What you don’t know…

Pam here. I don’t have a fancy name like “Scoops” Braga. I’m wondering if I need one.

It amazes me how many people I talk to don’t understand the power and necessity of social communications. I always refer back to your overall online presence. As a business owner, think of all the places your customer can find information on you or your company. Your website. Review boards. Directories. Social networks. Your blog. Other people’s blogs. News. Articles. Video. Pictures.

Not knowing the scope of your online presence has you missing out on opportunities for growth and networking. Regularly monitoring web presence can offer a company information on their audience, their brand, their competition.

Your online presence takes into consideration the following:

1. Your Website – First impressions mean a lot. Does your website look good? Is it user friendly? Can it be found easily? You might have an easy to remember URL, but if it takes 6 separate searches to find your company on the eleventh search engine results page – that’s not easy

2. Your Brand – How does audience interact with your brand? Are people talking about you? Where are they talking about your company? Are you in the news? Are there reviews?  Maybe people aren’t saying anything? Is that a good or bad thing?

3. Your Message – How is your message being delivered? Are you on social networks? Do you blog or Twitter? Do you interact with your audience? Are you transparent? Do you allow customers to join in the conversation? We meet lots of people for whom this is the scariest thought . . . allowing the public to interact directly with your brand. The scariest piece for them is the idea that you cannot control the online conversation, and as a result, cannot control if someone is speaking negatively about your brand. I always tell them this: The conversation is happening whether or not you choose to get involved; whether or not you choose to acknowledge it. For some companies and organizations, it says a lot about who you are and what your message is when you opt not to drive and participate in these conversations.

4. Your People – Your business is about more than just brick and mortar. It’s also about more than just your C-level staff. How do you and your staff contribute to your company’s web presence? Are you active on Social networks? How are you contributing to the online conversation? Blogging? Commenting? Are you creating content? Are you active in your communities? Are you socially responsible? Are you a Little League Coach?  You might be wondering how this is important – but think about what people might find out about you if they throw your name into Google or Bing. How synonymous is your name with your company? If you are a content generator, is it for yourself or your company? Do you blog for your company or about what you ate for dinner last night? Maybe you don’t have time to Twitter on behalf of your company, but maybe another team member can.

5. Your Audience – Are they social media spectators? Contributors? Commentator? Content Creators? Are they Blogging? Commenting? Reviewing? Are they on Social Networks? How are they active on Social networks? We have clients that engage their social networking audience in contributing content on a daily basis; others that have strictly informative relationship with theirs.

Remember this: It’s OK if it’s not all positive.

In our experience working with companies, large and small – and really, really small – the biggest fear in social media monitoring is discovering something negative and then assuming that everyone is going to see that.

Monitoring your online presence shouldn’t be scary, it should be a learning experience; a chance for you to get a deeper understanding of your audience and what role your business plays with them. Monitoring your presence should be a mandatory part of your marketing strategy as it can reveal more to a business owner than expensive, time consuming research reports.

If you ever get the chance to see Adam Cupples out and about speaking on this topic – Do it! He’s great.