No brand is complete without a decent online presence. If you want to be easily found by your customers and prospective customers, you’ll need to establish your brand online.
But where should you start?
Paying an expert to help with your online presence is one way to start. There are plenty of credible SEO, web development, and social media experts who can help you attain your goals; however, it isn’t always affordable when you are starting out. Advertising outside of the shop isn’t always in the cards either. So I’ve described five steps to get your start economically that anyone with a little bit of know-how and experience online can do on their own.
You can establish your brand online by following these five steps:
- Create a website to establish your brand online.
- Set up a Business Profile through Google My Business.
- Get on social media.
- Blog helpful evergreen content.
- Establish partnerships with other brands online.
1) Create a website to establish your brand online.
Fewer steps are more critical for a business than starting a website. Your website is a 24/7 treasure trove of information about your business and brand. It adds credibility to your brand and gives you a competitive edge over other brands that don’t have a website. Before you even open a shop or start selling to customers, you’ll want to have a URL that is indexed, searchable and full of branded content. Your website is likely the first touchpoint for your customers, so make it count! People often use their mobile devices to search for things before using their own recall for information. Your customers won’t find you if you’re not on the searchable list.
These days you don’t need to know much about web development or web design to start a website. Plenty of good website builder platforms take care of backend coding, SEO, security and all that other important stuff that makes your site function. Some of them have free versions as well. Before committing to anything, you might want to check out a few like Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, and Shopify (free trial). Each website builder has its own strengths and merits. It will be up to you to decide which website builder works best for your brand goals. Of course, free versions are never as robust as the paid versions, and you will have less functionality and tools until you upgrade. You will also likely not be able to use your own URL until you become a paying subscriber.
Once you have your website up and running, search engines will index your website, and it will become “searchable.” You can improve your “searchability” by having good content and using keywords that your customers would use to describe your brand. Having backlinks and linked pages also enhances your site’s searchability. The greater the number of connections your website has online, the easier it will be to find.
2) Set up a Business Profile through Google My Business
Google is the world’s best-known and most used search engine. It is continually crawling the internet for new URLs and indexing them accordingly. However, to add an extra layer of legitimacy to your online presence, it is best to set up your own Business Profile through Google My Business. It is a free service from Google that allows business owners to add their location, business hours, contact info, images, and valuable attributes that help their customers.
It’s also another way to communicate directly with customers. Which helps make your brand more accessible.
There’s not much more to say about Google My Business that can’t be found on their site. The following link goes to the Candian version.
3) Get on social media.
The most challenging part of social media is getting started. There are so many platforms for reaching different audiences that it becomes overwhelming to pick one. However, social media gives your audience another way of engaging with your brand. It also provides search engines with another way to find your business to establish your brand online.
Social media is a commitment that most businesses neglect. It is essential to select a few social media platforms to join and make an effort to be present on them. Choosing which platforms you want to use is based on where your customers like to spend their time and how your brand is best consumed. The following paragraphs will discuss the most popular social media platforms and their uses.
Sprout Social has an excellent article for demographics and statistics that might help you decide: Social media demographics to inform your brand’s strategy in 2021.
Second to Facebook, Youtube continues to be a popular platform for content creators and vloggers. Youtube offers its users the ability to post long-form video content well over 10+ minutes long. As a result, it has become a wealth of DIY, coaching, entertaining videos and movies. It is also often used as a search engine for finding video content, second even to Google.
You don’t have to be a videographer to be on Youtube; however, creating good video content takes time, planning and effort.
Pictures and videos are shared publicly with your followers and individuals that may be interested based on their search habits. Instagram users still use the platform to share images like a continuous life-documenting photo album and as a video-sharing platform.
Instagram does not allow for link sharing, a curse and a blessing. The idea is to share your own visual content authentically.
Twitter started as a platform for in-the-moment quick messages or “tweets.” Tweets are then sent into the Twittersphere for other users to like and “retweet.” Everything on Twitter is intended to be short, digestible nuggets of information. Most companies use it as a broadcasting channel for up-to-the-moment news and updates.
The hashtag was created by Twitter as a way to categorize tweets and follow trends. Hashtags have since been adopted by other major social media platforms. Everything on Twitter is searchable by Google (and other search engines), and anyone on the platform can interact with anyone else on the platform (if they so choose).
If you make business-to-business sales, need more employees, network for leads, or are looking for business partnerships, LinkedIn is the platform for you. In fact, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you have; there is likely a good reason for you to create a professional profile on LinkedIn.
This is where you can talk about business accomplishments, post jobs, talk about charitable work, post valuable articles, learn and discuss important things to your business. If you serve the business community, be here.
One of the main ideas that makes TikTok so attractive as a social media platform is its digestibility. Nuggets of video fun served up in 15-second to 3-minute time chunks. Most people are using it as a way to express themselves.
TikTok’s algorithm tries to identify viral videos before they become popular. It also personalizes a user’s feed based on what they watch, like and share. As a result, TikTok is better geared towards connecting users with content they might value. This means people tend to experience greater equality of post engagement than on other social media platforms because the content a user is served is not strictly based on who they follow.
Other social media platforms
There are other social media platforms that are worth exploring. For example, a Snapchat or Pinterest account can be fun for customers to explore. We also know there will be new social media platforms in the future that will be unlike platforms yet experienced. The main thing to keep in mind is how your customer will consume your content best; this depends largely on their social media behaviours, which may change over time. So don’t be afraid to try new things when it makes the most sense for you.
4) Blog helpful evergreen content.
Your blog is an unfiltered look at your brand that also helps make it more “searchable.” It is your opportunity to show your personality without a word count or maximum image size restrictions. Nothing helps a search engine more in establishing your brand online than good content.
Blogs get indexed by search engines and can be shared as links on social media. If people find your blog of value, they may follow you and/or become customers and fans of your brand. Be sure to post long-form and short-form content on your blog regularly for sharing on your social media channels.
Set yourself apart from your competitors by using your unique voice to tell stories and present useful content that is “evergreen”. For example, recipes, DIY, advice, processes, guides, and checklists will always be valuable. They are considered evergreen because they should remain relevant over time. However, current trends, the latest gossip, events, news, fashion and pop culture are all examples of timely content that won’t maintain its relevancy for long.
5) Establish partnerships with other brands online.
Add more legitimacy to your brand through external links to your website, blog and social media channels from other businesses and vice versa. Linking to other brands and having them link to you in return adds legitimacy to your site and increases the likelihood of others finding you in internet searches.
Be sure that the partners you engage with share similar values and make sense for your brand. Good partnerships are mutually beneficial and help to amplify your collective reach and messaging. The results can be something truly inspiring.
These 5 ways to establish your brand online are only effective if you follow a good brand strategy and prioritize consistent design.
Most people understand what a brand strategy is but don’t start one. To read more about why you could use a brand strategy check out my blog post – 10 Reasons You Need a Brand Strategy.
There are many more ways to ensure your brand gets noticed and established within Google rankings and beyond. I’ve simply provided the easiest ones to effectively start your organic rise to the top. Your next steps should involve consistent content creation, good SEO (I recommend working with a specialist for this), and social media participation.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Scheduling and creating can be time-consuming, so if you plan to do it yourself, be sure to make goals you can complete. The easier, the better. Consider working with a content creator or social media expert if your day-to-day business takes up much of your time.
My final tip is to keep it light and fun. Engaging your audience should reflect your brand’s best personable qualities. As soon as it becomes a chore to keep up with the brand you’ve built, it will start to show in your interactions. Send out positive vibes, and you will get them in return.
Need help establishing your brand online? Email me to inquire about a business start-up package to help you with the steps I’ve listed in this blog.