What do you want to achieve with your website? With the internet currently running at over 19billion pages of content, how should small businesses and start-up companies develop a web presence and promote themselves? What is the point of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? The simplest answer is: followers. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to create a list of followers through regular status updates and drive visitors to your website. Your website can then help to inform them and generate enquiries and sales.
What you include in your status updates is very much dependent upon your organisation but if something has happened or is happening – shout about it. Include information on new website resources, clients, advice, practical tips, where you have been today, industry news snippets, events, exhibitions, articles and so on. Rich sources of information include industry association newsletters, blogs and user groups, all of whom can deliver exciting content to your mailbox each morning. Social media provides a very low marketing investment cost and high return-on-investment (ROI) but there are several iterative steps to consider.
One of the most exciting things about starting a business is naming the company itself. Should you opt for a trendy name or one that includes what you do? If the internet is going to form a fundamental element of your marketing, try to include what you do or a variant of it in your company name. This is important more so now than say five years ago.
How would you know what to include in the name? Think about your company and what it does. How would you find such a company on Google? What would you type in? If you make unique gold jewellery, search for this keyword phrase (and variants of it) and see if your competitors are listed.
As part of your naming process, you should check the name at Companies House (www.companieshouse.gov.uk/) to see if it conflicts with an established business. The next stage is to check with an internet registrar to see if the name is available as a website domain. Nominet (www.nominet.org.uk) runs one of the largest internet registries and can be used to check not only if a name exists, but if it does, who owns it and when it expires. If you can purchase the name do so and include any near variants with a service provider like (www.123reg.co.uk). Variants could include: www.uniquegoldjewellery.co.uk, www.unique-gold-jewellery.co.uk and so on. Imaging investing in a website domain only for a competitor to purchase something similar.
With three checks completed, the next areas to tackle include Facebook pages (companies, groups etc), LinkedIn company pages and Twitter. These generally fall under the banner of ‘social media’ marketing. A key point to note is their different use.
Facebook started out as a social networking tool for university and college students. Today its use is more widespread and the company itself has developed into a platform for promoting groups, organisations and businesses. The core concept is the same; it’s all about connections or in the case of pages the number of likes and followers you can attract. Facebook also offers Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising similar to that of Google. Using Facebook PPC allows you to generate click-throughs to your Facebook company page or an external website.
If you view Facebook as an informal networking device, LinkedIn is its professional sibling and is used by companies and individuals to promote themselves; as well as by professional industries bodies and associations. It is as important to have Facebook and LinkedIn company or group pages now as it will be in the future. LinkedIn also now offers opportunities for PPC promotion.
Twitter is also a key social media platform and one that can be viewed as a ‘texting’ news service that can reach just as wide an audience as Facebook. With Twitter there is also a shorter username length (currently 20 characters) to consider when selecting a company name and you may have to consider a viable shortened version.
If your name is available in all the areas you want, grab them. If not, rethink. Naming your company can be a very iterative process but it can be one of the most important parts of building your business. Why? Let’s assume your business is unique gold jewellery. Using the recommended approach would give you:
This looks great on your email and stationery and helps to promote your business itself. If you have gone to this trouble as well it is just as important to use an email address tied to the website domain rather than a free service like Yahoo or Hotmail.
One you have claimed these domains, pages and links no one else can. If you cannot fully link your company name to a keyword phrase don’t worry. Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to name your pages accordingly to include relevant keyword phrases so that people can find your products and services. For example, Unique Gold Jewellery Bespoke Designs.
When selecting names, it is also important to consider your exit route. Very few people start out in business with a defined exit strategy but a sound internet domain strategy can add exit value. High ranking website domains have value just in the same way as land and buildings. See www.sedo.com for an online valuation of your website.
Used correctly social media can help you to promote your business and engage with your client base. An organisation can decide to work with only one of the three or a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. All can be integrated to ease any burden issues of posting updates. Facebook can be linked through a one time setup App to Twitter so that anything you post on your company page automatically gets fed to your Twitter account. The same is true with LinkedIn. The benefit here is that one status update can be posted on your Facebook page and then modified or rotated with another on LinkedIn, with both feeding your Twitter account.
The key is to appoint someone in your organisation as the company spokesperson and let them get on with it. The more they issue status updates, the more creative they will become. If they have responsibility and ownership for the company website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, they will develop these as informative tools that will help to engage your clients and increase revenues. The golden rule is to allow them to make social media marketing part of their every day office routine. If you do not have this facility it can be outsourced to a marketing agency, who can generally help with the set-up and initial training.
Once your social media strategy is underway, you can link your website to the relevant platforms using icons, automatically republish Tweets on your website homepage and even introduce Facebook, LinkedIn and the latest Google+ share buttons. With a little further investment in a camcorder, you could also consider publishing content on You Tube to reach an even greater audience.
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