How small businesses can optimize their online presence

How small businesses can optimize their online presence

Written by: Athena Bakris
July 25, 2018


In my years of working in public relations and social media strategy in Northwest Indiana, there is always one question at the forefront of every client meeting: “Will I get more followers on social media?” As social media has evolved, so have strategies for business marketing on these platforms. While gaining followers is paramount, it is also important to remember to grow your online presence in the right way for your business.  

In January 2018, Facebook announced the “algorithm heard ’round the world” (or so it seemed) based on all of the responses following the news of the change. Many in the industry sprang to action and produced content to help explain the purpose of the algorithm and what it meant for small businesses.  

The key? Engagement.  

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In my years of working in public relations and social media strategy in Northwest Indiana, there is always one question at the forefront of every client meeting: “Will I get more followers on social media?” As social media has evolved, so have strategies for business marketing on these platforms. While gaining followers is paramount, it is also important to remember to grow your online presence in the right way for your business.  

In January 2018, Facebook announced the “algorithm heard ’round the world” (or so it seemed) based on all of the responses following the news of the change. Many in the industry sprang to action and produced content to help explain the purpose of the algorithm and what it meant for small businesses.  

The key? Engagement.  

These are a few tips to help update your social media channels for a much-needed tune-up:  

AUDIT
This term isn’t just for the IRS. By taking an account of your social media platforms (followers, analytics and more) you can see what has been working for your account—and what hasn’t. Remember your overall goals and refine your accounts as needed. This is an ever-evolving process and can be done at least once per quarter.  

ENGAGE
Facebook’s latest update attempts to get back to the original purpose of social media channels: staying in touch with friends and loved ones. In the case of small business, really connect with your followers. Of course, connecting in 2018 can look much different than in decades before, but the basic principle stays the same: People want to feel a connection with you and/or your brand. If you want to get your content in front of others, be present and engage with their content. When you receive comments, respond to your followers.

FRIENDS, NOT JUST FOLLOWERS
Picture it: You create a new account and get a bunch of new followers. Your excitement abounds at the sudden spike of those that are now seeing your content . . . until you revisit the next day and see that your number of followers has diminished. These are typically not your friends, but rather, bots. To combat faulty analytics, keep an eye on who follows your account and block, block, block those that are not valid accounts.  It is easy to get caught up in the follower numbers game, but also remember the purpose of your account.

Photo Credit: Michelle Hamstra
Athena Bakris
Photo Credit: Michelle Hamstra
Athena Bakris

These are a few tips to help update your social media channels for a much-needed tune-up:  

AUDIT
This term isn’t just for the IRS. By taking an account of your social media platforms (followers, analytics and more) you can see what has been working for your account—and what hasn’t. Remember your overall goals and refine your accounts as needed. This is an ever-evolving process and can be done at least once per quarter.  

ENGAGE
Facebook’s latest update attempts to get back to the original purpose of social media channels: staying in touch with friends and loved ones. In the case of small business, really connect with your followers. Of course, connecting in 2018 can look much different than in decades before, but the basic principle stays the same: People want to feel a connection with you and/or your brand. If you want to get your content in front of others, be present and engage with their content. When you receive comments, respond to your followers.

FRIENDS, NOT JUST FOLLOWERS
Picture it: You create a new account and get a bunch of new followers. Your excitement abounds at the sudden spike of those that are now seeing your content . . . until you revisit the next day and see that your number of followers has diminished. These are typically not your friends, but rather, bots. To combat faulty analytics, keep an eye on who follows your account and block, block, block those that are not valid accounts.  It is easy to get caught up in the follower numbers game, but also remember the purpose of your account.

Chances are that your goal is to drive followers to do something else—buy a product, sign up for a service, or take part in an event. The goal is to spark interest on social media, then direct your audience off the channel to further engage with your brand or business.

CREATE YOUR CONTENT
Now, more than ever, social media channels are focusing on the individuals that comprise their networks. Creating original content that is true to your business and resonates with your followers is important. However, the idea of creating original content and constantly posting can be completely overwhelming.  

Set aside time in your schedule to create content in advance, and then utilize scheduling tools to help execute your overall strategy. This helps to pave the way for you to have time to engage with comments and create “impromptu” stories and live videos for your business.

DISCONNECT TO RECONNECT
In a world that is connected more than ever, it is important to again remember the real relationships that got us into social networking. Take breaks from your social media (personal and/or professional) at least one day a week to recharge and reconnect. Grab coffee with a new contact, spend a day with family and friends—really be present. I call this my weekly “social media cleanse.” By going out and engaging with the world, my creativity and priorities are refreshed, and I am able to be more in-tune with creating connectable content for followers.  

Remember that quality takes time. Time to build a loyal following, time to maintain and time to grow. Start by taking an account of your channels.  

It is still about building relationships––not just followers.