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Find yourself: reviewing your online presence

There are multiple factors contributing to how customers see you in the digital realm – many of which you can control. DAVID BROWN asks if it’s time to conduct an online audit of your website, listings and social media.

I was chatting with a friend recently about the ‘good old days’, back before the Internet was a part of our lives. We didn’t have data in our pockets and if we needed directions, we’d use a map.

Our spare time was spent reading or watching television rather than looking at videos or surfing through Facebook.
Words like Google didn’t exist in our vocabulary and swiping was something you reserved for flies and insects that bothered you!

Now the Internet is a part of our lives, yet some of us are still of a generation where we occasionally forget it is there and the impact it carries as our ambassador to others.

For many customers, the first experience they have of your business is online, often when searching for you in Google
or Facebook.

So, how does your profile stack up?

The online audit

A quick online search for your company should show your business appearing on various platforms – some of which you can control, such as your website, and some of which you can influence, like social media.

There could be several other platforms you may not even be aware of, such as review sites or blogs.

This is your online profile and it’s important you are aware of it and manage its impact, as it can be just as important to your business and its brand image as your store windows.

Fix your digital presence

Here are the elements you need to review to get your online profile in great shape:

Your website – How close to the top does your website appear in Google’s search results? If customers have to go to page two of Google to find it, or even further, then that’s an issue.

This should be your main online presence and customers can’t find you if you are buried at the bottom of the list.

Business social media – The key social-media apps are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you post images to Pinterest
or your customers have shared images of your products there, you can add it to the list too.

You may also publish videos for your business on YouTube or Vimeo.

The good news is you can influence how you appear in any of these areas of the Internet. Are you managing your social-media pages? If so, when did you last post any updates?

Are you interacting with followers, including responding to questions or complaints in a timely manner?

If your social-media accounts have turned into ghost towns then it doesn’t reflect well on your business. Customers might even think you’re no longer trading!

Update your pages regularly with engaging and informative content about your products and services including updating your opening hours.

Be creative but remember to comply with the terms of use. Big companies control the space – Facebook owns Instagram and Google owns YouTube – and they can shut down profiles that don’t play by their rules.

Private social media – As a business owner, you may be well-known to people in your area and some of your customers may even be friends with you on social-media. Remember that your online actions can always be seen by others.

This means last Friday’s drunken photos may be seen by your customers as well as your friends!

Your LinkedIn profile is another important personal profile that can have a positive impact on your business.

Make sure you have a good-quality professional picture, an up-to-date profile and a description of yourself.

"Positive coverage is great but if there are unfavourable reviews or articles, you should take action to deal with them – show that you are listening and that you are ready to fix the issue"

Build a wide network of contacts too, as this could make life easier when it comes time to hire new employees.

Other sites – Where else do you appear online? You might be in a local directory listing like TrueLocal or you might appear on review sites such as

Perhaps an article has been written about you or your business is mentioned in an influencer’s blog post.

Think about how you appear on these pages and the impression potential customers might get of your business if they were browsing these sites.

Positive coverage is great but if there are unfavourable reviews or articles, you should take action to deal with them. If there is a customer complaint, give that customer the courtesy of a reply. Show that you are listening and that you are ready to fix the issue.

Customers know there will sometimes be problems and misunderstandings; it’s how you deal with it that defines your business.

Reviewing your online presence is a task you should complete regularly and it pays to keep a constant eye on your social media platforms at all times.

Many of your new customers will discover you via these mediums, so be aware of what they see and the impact it can have on your business.

David Brown

Contributor • Retail Edge Consultants

David Brown is co-founder and business mentor with Retail Edge Consultants. Learn more:

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