In the olden days, and I mean the olden olden days, people willing to adopt new tools ended up being the most successful. The difference between the hunter using his hands to catch prey or a spear meant the different between eating dinner and being dinner. Although we have progressed far and wide since the days of the hunter/gatherer, the idea of adopting the most appropriate tool to suit each task has never changed.
If you had a loaf of bread in front of you, and a knife was lying right next to it, and using the knife to cut the bread was free, would you use the knife or would you try to cut the loaf of bread with a swift karate chop? As amusing as the latter option sounds I’m sure you’d use the knife. With this in mind, if your business has limited or no online presence, and there are programs available for you to use for free to raise your online profile, would you use them?
Sadly, for a lot of businesses the answer is no. Whether it’s a lack of understanding, a lack of confidence or a distrust of all things online, a lot of businesses are suffering because they’re not using the right tool for the job. I have heard excuses from “I don’t have enough time” to “I don’t trust X program” to “online marketing is dead” and the people providing these excuses are often struggling to make ends meet. The key to success in your business lies with knowing what you need to make your business grow.
Here are some free programs your business should have:
1. Facebook Business Page: This is not be confused with a profile page. The difference is massive. Firstly, a profile page which is functioning as a business page can be removed from Facebook at any time and you will lose all your Facebook friends in the process, thereby leaving your business in the dark. Secondly, a business page generates “Likes” instead of friends. More “Likes” = more likely to turn up in search results. You can also “check-in” to business pages which means your clients who use your business can let others know about it simply by saying “I was here”. Best of all? Absolutely none of these features require you to pay a single cent. You’ll also be provided with analytics for your business page which will help you to understand your online presence. You can find a good guide to Facebook business practices here: http://blog.mysquawkbox.com/
2. LinkedIn/Twitter: These are secondary for most business however it depends on the type of business. If you’re a pub you may prefer the Facebook method of pretty picture + text however if you’re a club or you’re dealing with a predominantly younger demographic then Twitter is a great asset to your business. LinkedIn is a great tool for you to use if you’re looking to liaise with other businesses or business professionals. Make an account, fill out the details and get networking!
… and those are just some of the free ones. The opportunities for you to raise your online presence are almost endless. You just need to use the tools you have available to you. As new technology comes to light it is important to understand how they apply to your business. Do your research. Find out if you should develop that iPhone application you’ve been thinking about. Maybe it is time to update your website with that RSS feed and integrate the Google map showing your location. If your business fails to adapt to new technologies then you will end up going the way of the dodo: eaten by Charles Darwin and his crew.