by Martina Iring | Featured Contributor
With the incredible amount of transparency that comes with being online as an entrepreneur or small business, what you say and what you do is out there in the open for everyone to see, and affects your credibility at every turn. You need to be conscious of how you present yourself.
What should you have on your radar? Here are some areas I consider to be important…
You don’t deliver
One thing I always caution entrepreneurs – don’t bite off more that you can chew. When it comes to online communications, and deciding to take on certain channels, you are making a commitment. You are saying that you will deliver something.
Think about a blog or a Facebook page that hasn’t had a post in years or an email newsletter that never gets sent out.
At a previous marketing job of mine, the business was collecting email addresses for a newsletter, but not actually sending anything. They were not making it a priority. My suggestion that we stop collecting the addresses? Not that well received.
You ignore people
When it comes to online communications, I’m big on reciprocity, being present, being friendly and generally showing a willingness and desire to communicate and connect. I recommend being responsive when someone has taken the time to interact with and initiate a conversation with your business.
It’s really obvious on blogs, or platforms like Facebook or Google Plus, when someone has not been responded to. This especially affects credibility when what comes through is a question about your product or service, or a piece of praise that would certainly warrant a thank you. I see this all the time.
Your online presence is lacking
One of the biggest areas of concern that entrepreneurs come to me with is what exactly they should be doing online. An online presence can be so overwhelming. You can get yourself into quite a tizzy trying to perfect your profiles and your website.
So where to start? Ensure your foundation is decent. It does not have to be mind blowing right off the bat – this is something that you can perfect over time.
Your website should look clean and present your business in a classy, informative way. Your logo should be professional and be a good representation of your business. Your personal photo should be on brand – approachable and friendly is usually a good way to go.
You’re not discerning in what you promote
If you are going to promote other products or services, or ally yourself with another business or organization, it’s crucial that you carefully vet these relationships.
I was following one blog that I was finding quite useful. When they started pushing a product, I thought I’d check it out since I trusted them. It turned out to be one of those awful, aggressive, full of hype, won’t let you leave without closing a bunch of pop up windows websites. Yikes. I unsubscribed from that blogger’s list faster that you can say spam.
You overdo it on social media automation
Automation tools for social media can really help to save time and they make maintaining your profiles more manageable. Relying on them too much though, or using tools that aren’t ideal, can backfire.
One example I go to again and again is automatic Twitter direct messages when someone follows you. They are so impersonal and obviously automated. I find that they are ignored most of the time. And sometimes they can make you look downright silly. I had found one business online that I thought was neat. So I liked their Facebook page and followed them on Twitter. And then the Twitter automatic message came through to like them on Facebook, when I already had. See what I mean?
On to you – what do you see businesses doing online that makes you cringe? Meet you in the comments.
Martina Iring – Internet marketing consultant & small business cheerleader
Martina Iring is a marketing consultant who works with small businesses and entrepreneurs unsure of how to make the internet work for them and their success. Whether they need to take their online presence to the next level, bring it up to date, or even get something going in the first place. This can be super overwhelming, especially if web stuff isn’t your thing. She’s on a mission to help the little guys make sense of internet marketing, teaching small biz owners how being online is not only profitable, but enjoyable! She is based in Vancouver, Canada but works with businesses all over the world.
She loves marketing. She loves small business. Bringing them together is her bliss. You can call her the small business cheerleader!
As a small business owner herself, Martina can relate to the whole magical journey of entrepreneurship – the challenges and the struggles, but also the joys and the amazing freedoms. Her blog, Small Business Bliss, offers up plenty of marketing info and doses of inspiration. Be sure to get your free website improvement guide here.