While visiting with Victor Guerra of LaMuneca Cattle Company recently, we discussed how today businesses need more than just a web site, they need a WEB PRESENCE.
The days of just putting up a web site and then forgetting about it are over. With the trend towards more viral, constantly updated online material, it's time to really take a good look at your web presence and bump things up a level. And as always, RHD is here to help our customers.
First, yes, definitely you need a web site. That's a must. With the affordability, speed, and ease of getting a new web site going, this is a no brainer. Having a web site costs very little, especially when compared to print advertising. Your web site cost for one year will usually be at or less than what you pay for one full page color ad. Web sites are instantly updated, allow for unlimited photos, and unlimited updates.
In addition to just having a web site, the top marketers will use a total online presence, of which a web site is just one component. Besides a web site, here are some other tools to use for your online marketing efforts:
- A blog - These are currently the "cool" thing to add to a web site. Everyone has a blog! The best blogs out there are the ones that are very frequently updated. While a blog usually won't replace the need for a web site, it gives a lot of advantages. One, blogs are a lot more casual. You can post things on a blog that you would probably never post on your web site...like funny photos, quotes, text messages, pictures taken on your camera phone, videos taken on your phone, etc. Most people can also update their own blogs through the easy to use web-based blog software. You can actually even update your blog from your cell phone. Blog sites like http://www.blogger.com/ (the one we use) are free, and easy to set up. RHD can help you in this area by designing matching blog graphics to go hand in hand with your web site. We can even do the initial set up of your blog, have it all ready to go, then just turn you loose with it.
- A Facebook page - I swear any day now I figure that even my dad will get a facebook account. Everyone has them. Businesses should create a facebook page where friends and fans can like and share with your business. This is also free. Through your facebook page, you can also use facebook advertising, which is also extremely affordable and extremely targetted. For example, you can place a facebook ad to target everyone who lists "showing cattle" as a hobby. You can also target by states. So to take it even further, you could place a facebook ad that only appears to people from Texas, age 18 and under, who list showing cattle as a hobby. Again, while these pages are very easy to set up and maintain, sometimes you just don't have the time to do it, or have other priorities. This is where we can help once again. RHD can set up your facebook page for you, design custom graphics, then turn it over to you to handle the updates. And, if you don't even want to do the updates, we can do that for you too!
- A Twitter account - Twitter and Facebook are different, and it's important to understand that. To me, twitter is more news, information, and discussions with people that you most likely don't know, and never will know. For example, last week I re-tweeted a twitter post by Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Pretty sure if I asked to "friend" him I'd get a big IGNORE. But with twitter, you can follow, or be followed by, just about anyone in the world. For me, Facebook is more for connections with my friends that I actually know. Like know well enough to go to lunch together. My personal rule for accepting friends is that you have to be someone I know well enough to know to have a real live conversation in public. For my stock show friend invitations, my rule is that I would at least say "hi" to if we were standing in line together at the Louisville Freedom Hall concession stand.
- Patricipation in the online community - It's all about social interaction! So get involved! Don't be afraid to hit that "like" button in facebook, or to re-tweet something. Or better yet, post comments on some of your favorite blogs and join in on discussions on message boards. These are great ways to interact with others in the online comunity. Remember that comments should be relevant, useful, polite (even if you disagree with the posts), and not self-promotion.
Now of course, we're all strapped for time. And these four tools are just a few of the thousands of ways you can build your online presence. We recommend trying one or two out, until you feel comfortable with them, then maybe try adding more. As we always say, if you're going to put yourself out there on the web, you have to stay involved and stay current. Nothing is worse than a blog that hasn't been updated in a year. So, make the commitment, and give it a try. And remember, we're here to help along the way!