The Small Business Website Guide

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Optimise your online presence – combine the power of websites and social media.

Making your social networks and website work together

Once you’ve registered your company’s domain name, there are a few ways you can use it to build your business’ online presence. Two popular options are: 1) Redirect your domain name towards another website. This could be your blog, for example, or your company’s page on a social network (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). As a general rule, it is easy to set up a redirection with your registrar, such as GoDaddy123-reg or 1and1, names.co.uk for example. 2) To build and launch a business website.

Let's explore each method:

Social Media

If you’re looking for an option that’s quick to implement and comes with immediate benefits, one simple technique is to register your own web address via a domain name, and redirect it to the social media page of your choosing. This method (also referred to as domain forwarding) enables you to have a business-branded web address that offers credibility and ease when promoting your online presence – much better than saying “follow me on Facebook.”

Deciding on your business social media strategy

There are an incredible 60 million small business using Facebook Pages worldwide.1

There are many multimedia platforms to leverage when using social media as your online presence, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Pros:

  • Quick and free – simple to set up and most platforms don’t charge a fee.
  • Low-commitment – you can start a new page or switch to a new platform at any time.
Deciding on your business social media strategy

There are an incredible 60 million small business using Facebook Pages worldwide.1

  • Engagement – access to more than a billion potential consumers, which allows you to easily communicate and helps build relationships and create communities. It also gives the consumer a voice and promote interactivity.
  • Growth – social media channels’ variety and reach can help businesses reach new places and find new customers.

Cons:

  • Lack of control/ownership – the social media provider’s terms and conditions control what content and promotions can be presented. Also consider what happens if the provider shuts the site down and if this is your only online presence.
  • Constrained creativity – social sites offer limited design layouts.
  • Open forum – these sites give consumers an open forum to voice their feedback and complaints, which necessitates more monitoring of the site.
  • Limited reporting/tools - the level of reporting and features available are often less than with a website.

    For more information please Check out this infographic entitled ‘5 opportunities to grow your business through social channels’ to learn more.

It may be best to simply start with 1 or 2 platforms that reach your target audience. Remember to try to reserve accounts or claim your branded profiles on all sites/platforms you plan to leverage to avoid confusion. And if you do engage on more than one social media site, try a management tool like Hootsuite, Percolate or TweetDeck that will save you time updating all your social media accounts.

Website

Getting a business website

77% of SMB respondents agreed that they prefer their website to a social media page or a directory listing.2

With a bevy of options, both paid and free, for creating a website for your business, it is easier than ever to build a high-quality website to showcase your products and services, and to establish your brand in a form you can control.

Pros:

  • Cost effective - there are a variety of options available. Free websites may be a good starting place as some are created for the non-technical user with easy-to-use templates.
  • Credibility – 86% of respondents agreed that a business with a website is more credible than a business that only has a social media page as its online presence.3
  • Full control/ownership – even if you decide against a custom build and use a website-builder tool with templates, today’s tools allow you to make a well-designed, mobile-capable site with minimal technical knowledge.
  • Greater branding and promotional flexibility – a website not only has more space to market your business; but more ways to market as well, such as videos, customer’s reviews, blogs, special promotional offers, etc.
  • Lead generation - great place to generate leads and seek for sales interaction

Cons:

  • Maintenance - depending on the size of the site, keeping content up-to-date will require some time and effort.
  • Increased complexity - sites with more sophisticated designs and functionality will most likely require more investment in time and money.

Social media offers great benefits to small businesses, through its simplicity, reach, and engagement with customers. However, it does have its limitations, such as, an inability to conduct sales transactions. Additionally, it is only just one part of the digital ecosystem. A website can profile your business like social media does but it also has other benefits, and should really sit at the center of the digital ecosystem.

Rather than just going for one option a company’s website and social media page(s) should be complementary, working together to create engagement and interactions with customers. The digital ecosystem is vast, and it’s about making all of the various tools work together – this is what can help small businesses will succeed.

1 http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/facebook-more-than-4-million-active-advertisers-60-million-plus-businesses-using-pages/645370

2 Verisign conducted an online survey in the UK in June 2016 with a sample size of more than 400 respondents who identified themselves as decision makers for companies with 25 or less employees.

3 Verisign conducted an online survey in the UK in June 2016 with a sample size of more than 1030 respondents.