The Online Presence of a Local Business

Businesses may feel more helpless than ever to control the conversation about their brands. People speak their minds, and it is shared and presented and there is nothing that a business owner can do to stop it.

An Actual Business Discussed on Facebook Today:

Now obviously the sentiment is not what Joe’s Crab Shack was looking for, and there is little they can say in this situation to repair it. In fact if they entered into it they would either seem like they were pandering or making excuses.

So what can a business do to build positive commentary about their brand online?

Engage people, be present, shine the attention on people making good comments. (If there are none that should tell you something else) Those are all great ideas, and you have heard them before.

What I really want to tell you is if you believe in your product or service, be the star that champions it. If you are willing to put your face on it, do the same online. If you wont say something good online about your own product who the hell else will?

What we have as small business owners is a world where we must do the same things, convey the same feelings, take the same responsibility, and deliver the same quality as we always have. We just have to do it via a different set of tools.

Yes Social Media is one of them, so is your website or blog, and so is your email list. They need to go hand in hand with the rest of your business communications. This is not hocus pocus, it is just the way things get done right now.

This Technology is just a more efficient way of doing things, efficiency is good if you are the one using it.

Too often we dumb it down, take away 90% of its power so that we don’t have to learn it. Examples: RLS2000 for Realtors or another is Tumblr for Bloggers…

RLS2000 for Realtors: Every realtor needs to have a website right? I think so. This is the deal: YOU ARE THE BRAND. You are selling your name, not houses, you are selling your service, not condos, you are selling your knowledge/experience/connections, not land. So what does that mean for your website? You need to do a series of things for the people that are going to be checking the agent they (theoretically) are giving 5-6% of their home to.

Things a Real Estate Agent must do Online:

  1. Demonstrate your knowledge of the market, activity in the market, and results in the market.
  2. Be the real you that people will get to know through what you share online.
  3. Market the homes you sell in ways that people would want for their homes and that others are not doing.
  4. Make it easy for them to see more, and learn how to contact you.
Which of these things does RLS2000 make it easy for you to do? Not 1,2, or 3 and  a partial on 4… ok so 25% and that one is probably the easiest of them all to accomplish.
The fact is when you have a website that is virtually identical to 500 other agents in your state, one that makes it a chore to add a page, and impossible to craft modern looking blog posts, you are not standing out for any good reason. Not when you could be creating content like this example from one of my client’s blog.

TUMBLR for Bloggers:

TUMBLR for Bloggers is like the hearing the best album you have in a long time and making a copy of it, then handing that copy to your friends and telling them that you wanted them to hear YOUR new album… it still sounds amazing but it’s not really your music right?
Your TUMBLR is not your blog, its your TUMBLR, and to use a service that homogenizes the style and content you have, hosts it on their servers, and makes that collection subject to them going under, being bought by Apple or Google and being shut down, or simply just falling out of favor to a newer cooler platform is silly for your blog, cause its not your blog, its your TUMBLR.

Takeaways From All this?

You have to be comfortable in your product or service, you have to be present to support it, and that means online too. If you are missing in those conversations who is going to be building positive relationships around your brand? Reasons people don’t do this that I want to shoot down right now:

  • If you are too worried about who might be looking at your Facebook to use it to propel your business forward you are letting that fear take one of the most powerful marketing and communication tools out of your hands.
  • If you don’t want to learn how to use Twitter and therefore give up on the best way of getting the attention of the press today you are missing out on that free exposure too.
  • If you want to take the easy way out and make a cookie cutter site like RLS2000 for realtors or TUMBLR for bloggers, or the myriad of others, you will end up blending in and being a prisoner of a platform that by its very nature creates uninspiring homogenous online brochures subject to the whim or profit motive of its owners. You are a tenant without a lease.
  • Small Business = Your Business, Your Name, Your Brand
Unless you are hiding from the law, in which case its really cool you are reading this, you should be confident enough in your skin and your business to represent it online (social/site/email) as yourself.

If you are not, please tell me what are you afraid of?

Join my email list at the top, leave a comment below, or shoot me a note on twitter @spirocks. Much love for reading this far.