It really doesn’t matter what kind of business it is you are running, who your customers are and how big you plan on being – without a seriously strong online brand, the chances are you are going to fail. There are a few industries and a few cases when being strong online is not that crucial, but for the most part, internet users need to know who you are and what you do and, in order to do this, you need to establish and build your online brand.
So, how do you do it?
Your Website is Perfect
Making sure that your website and everything about it is perfect can be a tall order, indeed. The web is changing almost daily and people’s tastes are always developing. Still, depending on which industry you are in and what your company does, there are some basic design decisions that you can always count on.
When it comes to your website’s functionality, it should always be about speed and comfort. It will start by finding a great hosting company with the best hosting features you can get for your money. It will also depend on the design of your website and all the other measures you have taken to make it as fast as possible. A website that is useful and easy to use speaks of a strong brand that isn’t trying to hide anything.
Your website should also feature certain things that will make your brand stand out. Your company colors should be featured prominently, as well as the message you wish to convey to your customers. You should promote your company’s store and the people who work for it on your About Us and Team pages.
Another good brand-building idea is to feature a blog where you and your employees will have the opportunity to display your knowledge of the industry and your expertise. If you wish, you can even share the brand’s stories on your blog. People simply adore a brand that is open and honest.
You are Smart about Social Media
The vast majority of companies are on social media. That is a fact. Another fact is that the vast majority of this vast majority has no idea what to do on social media. They are there because someone told them they have to be there. And now, instead of using social media to promote their brand, they are left with two or three accounts that only serve to make them seem unprofessional and lazy.
First of all, decide on a couple of social media channels. For companies, Facebook and Twitter are a must, while the rest will depend on what industry they are in and how they plan on promoting their brand. If you run a B2B accounting firm, you will have little use of an Instagram or Pinterest accounts.
The next thing to keep in mind is that social media is a place where you communicate with your customers and your potential customers; it is not just another channel to swamp with advertisements for your products or services. You will be doing that, but the brunt of your social media presence has to be about connecting and communicating with your customers.
Share the news from your industry, get into conversations about the burning issues (in your field), try to help people if they have questions, share news about your company (new hires, a new blog post) and perhaps even try to do some customer service on social media.
Your commercial messages should make up not more than 5% to 10% of all of your social media activity, if that much.
Do Online Reputation Management
We live in an age where every consumer has the right to say what they feel about any brand. Most of the time, people will be subdued and there will be no need for a company to defend itself online against attacks from certain individuals.
Unfortunately, most companies will encounter cases when their reputation is being dragged through the mud online, either deservedly so or without actual reason apart from someone getting irrationally angry at them.
Considering the fact that online review websites and platforms are becoming more and more important, especially for local businesses, it is essential that you do everything in your power to mitigate the bad reviews and promote those that are positive.
Sometimes this will be something you can do on your own by responding to bad reviews and explaining the background for all the negativity and sometimes you will actually need to hire a company that does online reputation management and let them put out the fires.
The important thing is that you address the “bad press” that you get online and that people understand what your brand stands for.
Establishing a brand and building it online is a slow and sensitive process. In the end, however, it will be same as building your brand offline – do good work, help your customers, connect with people and make sure there are no bad rumors about your business flying around.