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Kellee Gabel, President

When we started out in the Fall of 2000, websites were the main staple of a good online presence.  The commercial nature of the web had already gotten its groove, in fact the dot com bubble had already burst.  A business lacking a website was not quite cause for shocked exclamations.

In fact, today I still run across businesscards without a web or e-mail address.  And, some are still using Yahoo and Gmail accounts to conduct “professional” business.

So, is a website enough?  It could be, if your budget is very, very restricted.  However, there’s such a wide selection of affordable options available to create the optimum online presence.  Many of which fall under the umbrella of social media.

Let’s review social media by definition.  According to Wikipedia:  Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Social media is media for social interaction as a super-set beyond social communication. Enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques, social media has substantially changed the way organizations, communities, and individuals communicate.

Two key phrases resonate for me:  “interactive dialogue” and “user-generated content.”

There are numerous social media options.  Let’s take a look at the three most prominent at this point in time:

  1. Facebook Fan Page.  You can get a facebook page for your business without paying someone else.  Generally, people familiar with the Facebook interface and who are comfortable experimenting will be able to manage this themselves.  That said, don’t get me wrong.  Not all Facebook Fan Pages are created equal!   There are many wonderful ways of optimizing your fans’ experience, so naturally you’ll want to make this a sleek marketing tool.  If you’re busy doing your business, hire someone to explain your options and then have them make it happen for you.
  2. Linkedin Profile.  Yes, it’s true that your company can have a Linkedin Profile and it’s free.  Do you need to pay someone to do this for you?  Not necessarily, but it’s nice to know what information you should have in hand before you begin.  Click here to get our free Linkedin whitepaper>> A professional online marketing company can help you with this, and there are plugins that make it an even better marketing opportunity for you.
  3. Twitter.  Yes, Twitter is free, and while there’s a learning curve, if you can figure out how to write a message of 140 characters or less, you’ve got at least one part licked.  One thing about Twitter that is often an issue for small businesses is the amount of dialoguing involved.  And, make no mistake, it is a dialogue.  Is it right for your business?  It should be considered along with other initiatives already in place, along with the staff resources required.

Other social media options: Google+, FourSquare, Pinterest, Yelp, blogging, to name a few.

Which one is right for you and how do you manage this task?  If yours is a large corporation, undoubtably you have a marketing department to effectively tackle these initiatives.  However, if you are a small business, just the idea of adding social media to your already staggering list of duties is probably daunting.

The first approach to social media is reviewing how it fits (or doesn’t) with your company’s marketing strategy.  We recommend an overall review of both traditional and online marketing to ensure your message has continuity, and your brand uncompromised.  To effectively use social media, setting up an editorial calendar is critical, because:

  • Social media begs to be tended with the right stuff – content and timing.
  • People who like or follow you will want a reason to keep doing so.
  • Measuring results in sales and the creation of real business relationships is critical.

Seek out marketing advice from professionals to maximize social media as an online marketing opportunity and you will go far.  The pie just keeps getting bigger each day.