These days, everyone has a small business, am I right? Thanks to Etsy, Instagram and Facebook, it’s crazy easy to start your own business and find people to sell to. In such a saturated market, it’s so easy for small businesses to go unnoticed. Many customers don’t just want to go online and buy a handmade product or specialty service any more. They want to see the face of the person who made the product, they want to know the materials that went into it, they want to know that the person selling it to them knows their stuff. They want a relationship. Honing that relationship is useful a) because it makes the customer want to support the person behind the business, and b) it encourages return business. This is where an online presence is key.
Running a small business is a lot of work, and properly establishing a strong online presence can take time, but if done well it can really pay off!
There are a number of ways to get your name out there on the web, and you may already be doing some of them – but are you doing them well? Check our list and see what you can do to improve the online presence of your business today!
Quality Photos are EVERYTHING
No matter your selling platform – whether it’s Etsy, Facebook, Instagram or your own website – well-taken photos are a MUST for a strong online presence. Remember that saturated market I talked about? 99 times out of 100, when a customer is comparing two similar products and one of those products hasn’t been presented properly, they’re going to pick the other one… yep, purely based on a photo. It’s ingrained in us all to subconsciously believe that a well-photographed product = a more professional business.
Photography not your strong point? If you’re going to drop money on anything, I strongly recommend investing in your business by paying a photographer to properly photograph your products.
And now that you’ve got some great photos…
Not only is Instagram an amazing (and free!) way to interact with the world, some people are able to build their entire businesses on Instagram. No website, no market stalls, just a massive online following of customers waiting to snap up their products.
While I’m not saying to ditch your current selling platforms, I am saying use Instagram… and use it wisely. Your Instagram account isn’t just an opportunity to show off your products, but rather a way to build genuine relationships with potential customers and clients.
How to interact authentically on Instagram:
- Post a mix of product photos, behind-the-scenes photos and sneak peeks of upcoming products
- Use relevant hash tags. You can use up to 30 hash tags per post – use them all if you can!
- Set up your own unique hash tag, have customers post their photos of your products to the hash tag, and share their photos on your account – you could even offer a giveaway for the best customer photo each month!
- When people comment on your photos, comment back. Click into their accounts and like their photos. Engage with them!
- Connect with other local businesses – you never know who might be interested in collaborating down the track!
- DO NOT use bots (software) to follow/unfollow, leave meaningless comments or bulk-like other people’s photos. Nothing turns off customers quicker than non-genuine engagement.
Start a Blog
Regularly posting to a blog is a great way to establish your online presence. Even if your business isn’t online, giving customers a regularly updated blog that genuinely interests them will keep your business at the forefront of their minds. This means that when they’re in the market for the products or service that you sell, they will come to you first!
Blogs are meant to be authentic and friendly; you never want to come across too sell-y. So avoid too much informational content (eg “We’re having a sale!” or “We have new products in!”) Some examples of content that you could blog about include:
- Snippets of your life at home – I’m not talking anything super personal here, but a couple of snap-shots of your weekend or the studio you work in can go a long way in developing a relationship
- A post supporting another business you love (hopefully they will share the love too!)
- A DIY or How-To Guide that compliments your products
- Unconventional ways that your product/service can be useful
- The story of your business journey
Maintaining a blog can be a bit of a job in itself, but done well it can be a serious asset to your business!
Want tips on starting a blog? Everything you need to know is right here!
Facebook Business Page
A Facebook business page is a great, easy way to casually keep in touch with customers and clients, so if you haven’t set one up already, do it now! You can use your Facebook page to share information about your business, products and services for free. Facebook pages come under complex algorithms that reward active pages with lots of engagement by allowing the content to be seen by more people. However when pages don’t get much engagement and aren’t being posted to regularly, they won’t show up in many people’s news feeds – not even of those who follow/like the page. This means that a Facebook page isn’t just a set-and-forget avenue of promotion, but something that needs to be looked after and given constant attention. It sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re smart about it!
To make the most of your Facebook Business Page:
- Post regularly – at least 2-3 times per day – and make sure it’s a mix of your own content and others’ content. Luckily you can schedule posts ahead of time, so once or twice a week just sit down and schedule it all out.
- More post likes = more people seeing your stuff, so share memes and viral videos that are relevant to your business
- Consider running a giveaway… but ensure it lines up with Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines
- Offer occasional discount codes or secret sales to your Facebook followers
- Run paid ads and targeted promotions to enhance your reach
I have seen Facebook groups done really well, and I have seen Facebook groups done poorly. A thriving Facebook group is digital gold for small business owners, and a perfect way to enhance your online presence! Facebook groups are private, and in order to join a group you either need to be invited, or you need to wait for approval. Because of this, they can feel almost like exclusive little clubs. I have particularly seen friends with party plan/MLM businesses have great success with Facebook groups.
Some tips for running a successful Facebook group:
- Nurture it. Make sure you’re constantly checking in with your “groupies”
- Generate discussion. Your group members are there because of a shared interest, so put questions and discussions out there that everyone feels they can participate in (eg a make-up business page might ask things like “What’s your number one can’t-live-without-it beauty item?” or “What’s in your beauty bag right now?”)
- Share relevant content you find online, not just content directly relating to your business (eg an Intimo consultant might share information they find on breast checks or the benefits of a well-fitted bra)
- Videos are your friend – nothing is more personal than a group owner sitting in a well-lit corner of their house and getting conversational with their group members on a relevant topic (eg an easy DIY, a chat about a particular product of yours that you are loving right now, or a story of a happy customer)
- Empower group members to ask questions and generate discussions themselves – the more active the group, the more it is appearing in everyone’s news feeds, and the more reminders people have of your business.
- Treat group members as friends – a strong relationship means they are more likely to trust you and want to support you.
Are you a small business owner who has picked up some tips for bettering your online presence? Share in the comments – we would love to know what has worked for you!
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