by Sam Barnes
I’m always getting asked about businesses’ so called “web presence.” The phrase covers such a multitude of disciplines and outlets. For some businesses a web presence will be a Facebook page or a basic site on a humble domain name. For others, it’s the entire reason they’re in operation! They’ll have a huge range of social profiles, numerous websites, blogs and online advertising channels.
What’s undeniable however, is the importance of an online presence.
Here are a few figures to whet your appetite:
- There are in excess of 2 billion people using the Internet in the world today (internetworldstats.com)
- In the United Kingdom and United States, Facebook’s penetration is now more than 50% (socialbakers.com)
- During any 60 seconds there are over 100,000 tweets sent. (mediabistro.com)
- There are more devices connected to the Internet than people on earth! (mediabistro.com)
Just looking at these and the millions of other statistics that can be found in the media, it’s clear that the Internet is becoming a central part of human communication.
Your web presence gives you the chance to take advantage of this expansive network. You can reach any customers, at anytime, anywhere in the world. There is simply no other medium that has the power, reach, and flexibility of the Internet. Without a web presence, you’re missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime.
What are the components of an online presence?
A combination of a domain name and web hosting creates your website.
Domain Names – Securing a great domain name can make a huge difference. Firstly, it can define your brand. If your domain name is short, snappy and memorable, you’ll find it easier to make an impression online. Think about Google, Twitter, Facebook or Intuit. What do they all have in common? Their domain names are short, snappy and incredibly memorable.
Web Hosting – Web hosting is the “always online” data storage which contains the code, images, text, videos, or any other files that make up the content of your website.
It can be had from a multitude of companies and in numerous different formats. If you’re only just starting out, a shared hosting package will be absolutely fine. Is your business gaining ground or do you want to start out with a bigger site like an e-commerce store or a site with lots of different service pages? Take a look at a VPS (Virtual Private Server). If you’re established and want things completely customizable, and demand stability beyond measure, look into dedicated hosting.
2. Tailor your Website for your users!
A domain name is the identifier by which your web hosting is accessed. Getting the content on your website right is essential too! You’ve got to think about why people are going to be using your site. Are you using the website solely to generate leads? Does it also serve as an information source to help you become an authority in your industry? Is it designed to generate feedback from customers on your products, services or ideas?
All of these different purposes are best served by different kinds of websites. If you want different pages to achieve different objectives, then for goodness sake don’t design them all identically!
3. Social Media
Social media is becoming one of the most powerful tools in any business arsenal. Some of the stats I mentioned at the start of this article highlight this fact.
Real Time Feedback – With Social Media you can not only be social with your prospects, but you have a wealth of information and feedback which can come at you in real time. In the last 3 years social media has become as important as your company website. Generally, a lack of any social media accounts at all is perceived as ‘behind the times.’ Nobody wants to look that.
Increasing Brand Awareness – One of the biggest advantages to using social media is the feedback you’ll receive. Existing customers or clients can tell you exactly what they think in an instant. Both good and bad! You should always be looking to refine your business, improve areas that are underperforming and really emphasizing the areas in which you excel. Social media can really help you focus on what’s going well and what needs work.
Spreading your Reach – Another big advantage of using social media is the possibility to spread the reach you brand far and wide. One little blog post which you Tweet about and post on your Facebook wall can really create a buzz around your brand. Social media takes content from unnoticed to viral. If your company uses social media correctly and executes a strategy appropriate to your target audience, you can increase your brand recognition millions of times over. (I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean LITERALLY … e.g. @OMGFacts @Notebook @zappos). There’s nothing that can reach quite as globally as a well-honed social media presence.
Social media is a truly global phenomenon. A good social following can take your brand all over the world on the wings of your fans. Indirectly, you can reach an international audience, via influencers that are already trusted in those markets. That really is invaluable for a business that’s attempting to spread its wings!
I could also talk about your email newsletter, your RSS feeds, your offline advertising and a thousand other aspects of your online presence. But look at the subject broadly and you’ll realize how powerful your online presence can become and how vital it is to every business on the planet! There are thousands of blogs and websites out there than can help you improve your online presence, just take the time to read them!
Sam Barnes is a Chief Evangelist at Domainmonster.com. Primarily he works to enhance brand visibility online through a variety of means. He assists the technical and accounting departments in developing online marketing strategies and helps build a community through Social Media. Domainmonster.com is an ICANN accredited Domain Name Registrar which also offers Web Hosting and Website Builder.