Thursday, May 8, 2014

Entrepreneurs: Build an Online Social Presence, Go Beyond the Website

As an entrepreneur, you recognize the importance of going to market with a website, yet many entrepreneurs start their businesses with very little plans on how to manage an online social presence.  Online social networks and the exposure within online sources have become an essential component in the visibility of a company’s resources.  As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program, I have been researching ways for companies to create an online presence that goes above and beyond the typical company website.  I have found two great articles that articulate specific steps that you need to follow in order to be a successful entrepreneur with a strong social presence.

One of the first steps essential in creating your business' online presence, is to "be social".  According to the article, "Beyond Your Web Site: Nine Ways to Build an Online Presence," by Angela Hribar, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of GlobalSpec, Inc., "To compete effectively, it's necessary to expand and enhance your exposure in the same online sources your customers and prospects use while searching for products and conducting research."  Developing a deep online presence is critical in creating a strong company brand and a message that can relate to your customers.  Creating a more visible and recognizable presence online, beyond a company website, is the way that a company can generate attention about their products and services as well as create maximum visibility about their company.

When establishing an online presence, it is important to surround yourself with other professionals by joining online communities relevant to the products and services of your business.  According to the article, "8 Specific Tactics to Establish and Grow Your Company's Online Presence," by Sandra Morgan, Founder/CEO/Editor in Chief of Kalon Women, "Social media sites can increase your business' visibility, give you an opportunity to present a more personal side to potential customers, drive awareness through social activity and check-ins, and turn casual buyers into true fans."  Entrepreneur's need to connect with other professionals and communities in order to see suggestions for businesses to tap into new markets and to view recommendations on how to create your company's "digital checklist".

After reviewing these articles, I have developed three main action items that you should consider when marketing your business: 
  1. Be Social - Establish a basic online presence using social media sites (Google+TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, etc.) and participate in online discussions.
  2. Join Online Communities - Surround yourself with other professionals in your industry by joining online trade associations.  
  3. Advertise Online - Become more visible by advertising in e-newsletters and creating banner advertisements on social media sites.

As an entrepreneur, it is important that you keep your company competitive.  Use every tool within your marketing toolkit and every available marketing option online to connect with your high value markets.   

Kari McMullen is a Business Analyst on the Customer Communication Strategy Team for TEKsystems at State Farm Insurance.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communications and a Master of Business Administration, both from Bradley University.  She will soon obtain her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University and intends to pursue a career in Corporate Communications and Marketing Management.

Contact her on Twitter - @karimac23 
LinkedIn – Kari McMullen


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