If you’ve just started your business or are fairly new to the entrepreneurial world, then building your online presence can be time consuming and, at times, frustrating.
But it’s also very important.
Building your online presence can be time consuming because it’s not just something that happens overnight; it can be frustrating because… well, it’s not just something that happens overnight; and it’s very important because your online presence is what allows people to find you, interact with you, and get to know, like and trust you.
But building your online presence can be less time consuming and less frustrating if you know where to start.
What is an “online presence”?
An online presence is the sum of all the identities you’ve created (can be both personal and business-driven) and the interactions those identities have established, and participated in, online.
Your online presence has a very broad reach, and when built successfully it can spread brand awareness and gain you fans, followers, leads, customers and anything else you could ever want for your business.
How to start building your online presence
Not sure where to start with building your online presence? You’re not alone.
There’s a lot that goes into building your online presence, from establishing your goals, to actually creating your different profiles and accounts, to building a website (your home base), all the way to figuring out the best ways to engage and interact across these different mediums.
To help with the overwhelm, let’s break down 7 ways that you can start building your online presence right now.
7 ways you can start build your online presence right now
1. Strategize: What are your goals?
First and foremost, it’s important that you understand what your business goals are – both short-term and long-term.
As you start to build and grow your online presence, you should be constantly asking yourself how each of your online efforts are helping you take a step towards your business goals.
Write your goals down so you can easily refer back to them when you’re checking to make sure that what you’re doing online is helping you take a step forward.
Don’t just build an online presence because you’re “supposed to”, build it strategically so that it can help your overall business goals.
2. Build a solid platform
For most small businesses and entrepreneurs, building a solid platform starts with your website (your home base).
Your website is your hub: a centralized place where people can go to learn more about what you have to offer, contact you, and interact and engage with your content.
Things like a clear message (what your business is all about), easy-to-use navigation, an opt in giveaway (so you can start building your email list), a contact page, an about page, and some type of valuable content are required.
SEO is an important piece of the puzzle, too.
Not an SEO expert? That’s okay. There are a ton of great resources out there that can help, including those who you already know.
Ask for help from those around you who have enough knowledge to help you get started. The Google Keyword tool is also a great resource if you want to start with at least finding out what keywords you want your website to rank for.
There is a lot that goes into building your platform, so much so that I’ve dedicated an entire post to it right here. Check that out to make sure you’ve got everything covered when it comes to building a solid platform.
3. Always be optimizing and improving
Don’t get stuck in thinking that you can’t put something out there until it’s perfect – it’s never going to be perfect.
Just start, knowing that you will always be improving upon your content and what you have to offer. Continuously looking for ways to improve and optimize your site and your content post-launch is 100 times better than not launching.
It’s a process. The longer you wait to start, the longer it’ll be until you’re able to reach your goals.
4. Provide consistent value
Whether it’s via your website, an online community, or through your social media channels, you should always be looking to provide consistent value first and foremost.
What content are you providing your audience?
It might be a blog, a podcast, videos or books; whatever form that content takes, make sure it’s consistent and valuable.
Creating consistent and valuable content will help you gain credibility and authority in your industry or niche, which is important for your online growth and visibility.
Providing value through the online communities you manage and on all of your social media channels is important for your online growth, too.
What type of content or knowledge can you share with your community and followers that might not be your own content, but that will still be of value to them? A mix of 80 / 20 is a rule I like to follow: share other peoples’ content 80% of the time, and your own content 20% of the time.
This will not only build trust with your followers (they’ll start to recognize that you’re not just in it for yourself), it will also help you build relationships with others in your industry or niche (through sharing their content with your audience). It’s also a great way to reach others’ followers who might be interested in your content, too!
5. Be social
One of the greatest things about the Internet is that it allows you to be everywhere.
Disclaimer: I don’t agree with the be everywhere strategy on social media specifically; however, I do believe in testing and then choosing two or three social channels that work best for your business.
Being social doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a Facebook page, Twitter profile, Google+ profile, Pinterest board, Quora blog, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile and so on.
But being social DOES mean you should have at least two or three of these profiles set up that you regularly post and engage on. Consistency here is key. If you’re not able to manage your social channels by posting regularly and being a part of the conversation, then it’s going to be hard to increase your following.
Social media can be a GREAT marketing tool to help you gain those initial fans and followers, and once you have those followers, it’s also a great tool to reach those who know, like and trust you.
6. Start building relationships
Something that’s really important when you’re trying to build your online presence is, of course, “being seen”.
If no one knows you, then presumably they won’t be looking for you on your website, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on.
So what’s the best way to draw people into your world?
Find a group or online community that is made up of individuals who share the same interests or who run similar businesses in your industry or niche.
Then, start building relationships with them through providing value and being an active member in the group.
If you’re just starting out, chances are these people are better connected than you are, and they might be able to help introduce you to others who are in your industry or niche.
You should also find a group or community of individuals who fit the description of your audience, or your avatar, because joining this type of community has the potential to give you priceless insights into what your avatar’s biggest pain points are. Knowing this can help you pivot and create the exact content your avatar wants and needs.
Again, always start by adding value for others FIRST. When entering a group or community, it’s important for you to NOT advertise yourself or your business. Once you start building strong relationships with others in the community, they’ll naturally become interested in what it is you have going on, and you can start to share your content over time.
You can start building your online presence today, but how do you know if it’s working?
You’ll know if you’re tracking your progress.
Every single week I look at the number of likes we have on Facebook, the number of Twitter followers we have, how many circles we’re a part of in Google+ and also our download numbers in Libsyn. Google Analytics is also a great way to track your website traffic.
If you’re not tracking these types of things, then you won’t be able to recognize trends or identify why a large spike in traffic (or a decreased number of visitors) may have happened. It’s important to test different things and figure out what’s working best for you.
For example, guest posting is a great way to get your name out there, build relationships with other bloggers, and show people the value you have to offer. Guest posting could result in increased traffic to your website, a strong backlink and a lot of social love, but only if you’re tracking these things.
Being able to track your online presence may not necessarily help you with ROI, but it will help you establish what is working for your business and what’s not.
As you can see, your online presence has huge potential to get you and your business known through various online channels. But it takes time, and so you have to be willing to be patient.
If you’re able to start building a strong platform, create consistent and valuable content, establish a presence on social media, and build meaningful relationships online, then momentum will be on your side.
Remember: the way you interact and connect with people online can help expand your reach (brand awareness) while simultaneously growing the number of fans, followers, leads and customers your business has.
You don’t have to be everywhere online, but you do have to be somewhere online.