How to optimise your online presence

Kath Dawson discusses how to implement a solid social media strategy and navigate creative digital content, SEO and digital PR to get maximum exposure for your business.

Recent headlines are finally showing positive economic news and while even the statisticians are cautiously presenting growth, and the CBI is predicting a slowing of that growth the second half of 2014, there are certainly opportunities for businesses that use this period to ensure they have their ‘ducks in a row’.

But what does this mean exactly? Aside from being a slightly dubious expression for being organised and prepared for a situation, on a practical level it means that if a business has the chance to review the way it is doing things to make them more effective, they should definitely capitalise on it by looking at what they want to achieve and the methods they are using to do this.

We now live an increasingly digital economy, where the internet and social media have made commerce even more interconnected and immediate than ever. Any business that doesn’t have a digital strategy or presence is missing a huge opportunity to reach thousands of customers and potential customers using some of the most cost-effective methods possible. Furthermore, a business which doesn’t have a strong digital and social presence will quickly be surpassed by its peers and forgotten by its customers.

For example, an e-commerce operation might want to drive sales conversions by increasing traffic to its site, and gone are the days when this would simply be possible through link building across each and every available site on the internet.

Google has been wise to the old ‘black-hat’ tactics of SEO for a number of years now, and not only does it harshly penalise anyone employing these methods with plummeting search rankings, but it has also introduced a number of algorithms to wheedle out content it deems low quality, duplicate or spammy. 

This new world of digital marketing where Google is consistently updating the guidelines for what comprises acceptable digital content means it is vital that any business that wants to keep or build its search rankings keeps abreast of and adheres to these guidelines.

Equally as important is the need to have a social presence which fits the business and its target audience correctly. Part of getting the social side of things right is developing attractive, useful and highly sharable content to help grow that social following and increase brand recognition and ultimately sales. Strong social followings and traction also have an impact on brands’ organic search rankings.

Cut through the noise

The influence social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have on today’s marketplace is considerable, bearing in the mind the reach of each individual follower or fan when their own personal networks are taken into account.

However, it is also important to consider the amount of spam and noise throughout these platforms, and the amount of brands getting social media marketing completely wrong by bombarding followers with pushy marketing messages, and talking endlessly about their business and products without listening to communication coming back their way – essentially a one-way conversation.

Brands that get social media wrong alienate followers and customers and damage their reputations by doing so.

In order to cut through all the noise that social media has to offer, businesses need to ensure that firstly they are building networks of followers that match their target audience profile, and the only way of doing this is by piquing their interest. A good mix of entertaining, humorous and useful content interspersed with brand specific content like discount codes and competitions will help keep followers engaged and interested without turning them off. Convey the human side of the business using photos, a conversational tone and interactive content which encourages followers to enter into a meaningful online conversation with you. The key to successful social media campaigns is engagement and if you understand how to interest followers to drive and grow engagement and interaction you are well on the right path to this success.

Content is key

Although the term ‘content marketing’ is being used more and more frequently, there is an argument that the terminology should simply be ‘marketing’. The reason for this is that not only is the economy increasingly digitally focussed, but also the techniques used in content marketing draw strong parallels with those used in traditional or offline marketing techniques. Great content is developed by brands that really understand their target audiences, just as a traditional marketing campaign would establish target audiences and develop strategies and tactics to reach those audiences. In this vein, developing buyer personas and examining the journey they take in making a purchase decision in order to create on and offsite content is a key tactic for marketing success, as well as meeting the approval of Google to improve search rankings. Likewise, incorporating a heady mix of digital PR which identifies the key publications target audiences are reading and provides quality comment and content to them, and social media to effectively communicate with target audiences is crucial too.

As the economy rounds a corner and business has the potential to boom, there is a very real need for business owners to consider the impact of their marketing activity. The potential that digital marketing activity has for maximising brand exposure and loyalty, not to mention audience research, is enormous. For any business looking to increase its impact over the coming months and years it’s true to say this really is a ‘no brainer’.

Further reading on digital marketing

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