We live in a time where many resources for new and old business owners alike are amply supplied at a cost so low that it makes starting and running your business on the web ridiculously easy in comparison to what it was just 5 – 10 years ago. Added to today’s web landscape is social media, a behemoth that was not around in such a popular during the early days of the web. Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, BlogSpot, WordPress.com and a host of others offers many business owners the opportunity to quickly and easily get their business online and rapidly spread their message. I have personally run into several business owners who use social media very effectively. There are those who use social media as a supplement to their overall marketing strategy then there are those who use social media as their only marketing strategy. The later group is who this article is for.
A Vital Business Need
It never fails to surprise me when I talk to business owners and find out that they have no web presence or any type of plan to get on the web. If you are a business owner it is vital today for you to be on the web. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when a person wanted to bring business through their doors they would put out an ad in the local paper and have their business listed in the yellow pages. These local listings gave their business an opportunity to be seen by their local customer base.
The Old School Way
While local advertising listing and the yellow pages are still valid ways of advertising to your customer base I would say that the days are far gone where this is where the majority of people go when they look for services. With the advent of the search engine, especially Google, the tables have turned and people are now looking for their services through the search engines. If the search engines were not enough the introduction of social media has also brought the business closer to your home and experience through recommendation and referral marketing. If you know the person and trust the person who is recommending the service or product you are more likely to purchase the product or service. A revolution. Plain and simple.
The Social Media Revolution
The social media revolution has increased the recognition of many businesses who would have previously gone unnoticed . The logical thing for any business is to go to where the people are, on the social networks. Why in the world would a business even need a personal website when they can save costs by hosting a profile with any of the social networks for free? Several reasons many small businesses don’t think of when going the social media only route include: Actually Owning Your Online Presence, Establishing Your Site Authority With Google, Having One River of Your Online Activity.
1) Actually Owning Your Online Presence
Most business owners may not immediately consider this but just as you are the owner of your business off the internet being the owner of your business on the internet is also of vital importance. It is better to own a home than to rent a home & the internet is a humongous land grab. I like to compare several things on the net to real estate. The land is the server you rent or own, the house is equivalent to the actual files that make up your website & the URL you get is equivalent to the residence address. Now, with this in consideration what are the benefits of owning your home? You can do whatever you want to in it! You do not have to abide by anybody else’s rules. You can be as lazy or as excellent as you want to be. The same goes for having a website of your own. You can advertise, design or display whatever you want to on your website. You are not obligated or bound by a set of rules on your website that you own. On the contrary if you are renting a space in the real world you must abide by the rules set your landlord. In this way you must abide by the terms of service of each social network. Most of the terms of service are not bad but if you accidentally violate the terms of service you run the risk of having your content removed. You run the risk of being evicted from you own business and since you don’t really own your online presence there will be nothing you can do to stop it.
2) Establishing Your Site Authority With Google
Another reason you want to go ahead and grab your own domain and host is to begin to establish your own website’s authority. With Google, the longer your website has been active the more credibility you earn. If your website is powered by a content management system such as WordPress you will have the added advantage of easily updating your websites’ content, interacting with your audience and establishing back links. The benefits of owning your web presence to establish authority with Google far outweigh the costs upfront of developing this website. In the long run you will actually save more money and time. The more authority you build with the search engines with quality content the easier you will be found through the organic search listings in Google sand this will eventually convert to more business.
3) Having One River of Your Online Activity
The Final major reason for owning your own web presence is the fact that you want people there! Social media should not take people away from your business but bring people to you. Let all the streams of your social media flow into the one river of your website. This is the way you can make every social media account you own a servant of your business. There are many ways to do this and it is absolutely possible with all of the APIs that are available for web developers to even keep the look and feel of these social media streams in line with your brand.
Building your business on the internet is a very important task and one that you will want to do right. Hopefully if you were on the other side of the social media only argument you will now have a greater understanding of why you should OWN your web presence. Or if you know others who are of the Social Media only mind you can point them to this article. Can you think of any other reasons to have your own web presence? Add them in the comments below