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Five Online Opportunities You May be Missing

by Lindsey Getz

We are in a digital age and that means many businesses are taking advantage of a variety of online opportunities to grow their business and manage their brand. But at the same time, there are also plenty of commonly missed opportunities out there. Here are five mistakes you should be sure not to make so you don’t get left behind.

1. Ignoring social media.
While most businesses are getting on board with social media, there are still plenty that don’t think it’s that important to their business. Jody Raines, president of Voorhees-based WebMarCom, an Internet strategy and marketing firm, says they’re making a huge mistake. “We’re getting to the point where if you don’t have a Facebook page, consumers may actually think you don’t exist,” she says. “Social media is also another way to be found on the Web. If someone is Googling you, one of your social media pages will likely pop up in the search.”

In fact, Liz DeNinno, vice president of Pinnacle Irrigation & Nightlighting in Haddonfield, says she’s found consumers are actually using Facebook as a primary search engine. “We had one potential customer call and tell us they found our company by doing a search on Facebook,” she says.

2. Not using the “Big Five.”
Most people think of Facebook as the poster child for social media, but there are other platforms, as well. Todd Bailey, vice president of digital strategy for the search engine optimization firm WebiMax, based in Mount Laurel, says social media used to be looked at in terms of the “Big Four”—Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter—but with the recent launch of Google+ Pages, it’s now the “Big Five.” “I’d say if you’re not participating in all of these five areas, you’re really missing out,” says Bailey. “People want an outlet—a space to connect—and all five of these places allow you to do that in a slightly different way.”

3. Failing to maintain your pages.
If you’ve made the effort to create social media accounts, then you’ve certainly taken a step in the right direction. However, Gerard Capistrano, MBA, an adjunct professor at Rutgers University — Camden who teaches a class on social media, says it’s not enough to just have the accounts. “This isn’t like the early 2000s when you put up a website and that was sufficient,” he says. “You need an active platform where people are commenting and conversation is being inspired about your products or service. If nobody is talking about you, it defeats the purpose of having the Facebook page.”

Roberta Scott, sales and marketing associate and manager of the Facebook page for Shades of Paper, a Mount Laurel digital printing supply firm, agrees and says she believes people feel very engaged by social media. “It’s an opportunity for interaction,” she says. “I can send out e-mail blasts and they may get the same information as they did on Facebook, but it’s impersonal. It’s not the same two-way communication where we start a dialogue.”

4. Skipping a website.
While all the experts tout the benefits of social media, to completely forgo your own website is also a mistake. People may find you on Facebook and learn more about you there, but they’ll likely also be searching for a link to your own page. That’s also a space where you have total control.

“Having a social media account is definitely important, but one day you may need to start all over, even after investing lots of time and energy into your Facebook page,” says Raines. “Mark Zuckerberg could wake up tomorrow and change the rules. Having all your information on someone else’s platform always puts you at risk. That’s why you should also have your own site that you have total control over.”

5. Having a site that can’t be found.
Of course, as beautiful and great as your own site may be, if it’s not being picked up by search engines, then there’s a good chance it’s not being seen by potential customers, warns Raines. “For example, you may have some beautiful photos on your site, but those are not read by search engines, so you need to think about also having the right text on your site,” she says.

Raines says that a lot of this has to do with search engine optimization—using the right keywords and understanding how your customers will search for your product. Businesses have to remember that their customers aren’t necessarily using industry jargon. “Your potential customers might be searching for your product or service but not using the technical lingo for it,” she explains. “Make sure you have some keywords on your site that will make you ‘findable’ to them.”

Going Mobile

The days when a cell phone was only used to make calls are long gone. Today, people are using their mobile phone as a computer on the go. Mobile apps allow businesses to keep up with their customers by posting daily deals, responding to customer queries, and managing reviews. Plus, consumers are using them to make purchases or check up on a company, among other functions. If you’re not already up with mobile technology, you may be missing out on a great opportunity.

“A growing body of data indicates that nearly three-fourths of consumers are using their mobile phones to make purchases or at least to assist with the decision-making process,” says app expert Raj Dandage, co-founder of Appguppy Mobile, a free site that builds mobile apps. “Today’s mobile apps can help businesses with any number of functions. Encamp, for instance, brings desktop Basecamp functionalities to the iPhone, while mbPointer can make your iPhone double as a PowerPoint presentation pointer during your next great pitch or slideshow. And of course there’s Square, the popular mobile payments solution.”

With all of the interest in going mobile, more businesses are looking into app development for their own companies. Using a site like Dandage’s Appguppy eliminates the costs attached to going through a developer. And once you go mobile, you’ll wonder why you didn’t sooner. Notes Dandage: “Mobile apps can not only help a small business reach new customers, but can also engage them, build their loyalty, and ultimately make a substantial return on investment.”

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 1 (January, 2012).
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