Step 1 of the “Online Marketing Road Map” is Establishing a Web Presence and Staking Your Claim. In this step, we’ll discuss how to provide a central landing space for your visitors like your own website or blog, and then we’ll move into claiming your company name on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Creating your own website or blog should be your first action in this step, because you want to have a central location to send your visitors to that you own. Sure, you can claim your brand name on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube (and you should), but ultimately you don’t “own” those spaces as you would yourowndomain.com. Thus, the first thing you should do is decide on your domain name, and purchase it, preferably with a .COM extension. At this point in The Web’s development, a lot of the great .COM domains are taken, but that extension is still the most popular in people’s minds when they search and enter a web address, so your best bet is to find a .COM that works for you. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find your brand name online.
Travel over to GoDaddy or Domain.com, and see if your company name is available. If so, grab it! If not, try to think of additional words or dashes (–) that you can add to make the domain your own. Just be careful when adding words like “the” or dashes into really popular domains, because by doing this, you could ultimately be leading all of your intended visitors to someone else’s website (since people rarely think to add dashes or words like “the” when they type URLs). Sometimes people add LLC or INC to their domain names to make them work (presumably they are LLCs and/or incorporated), and at others, people add their locations, like yourowndomain-nashville.com as a way to brand their company to their hometown. Whatever you choose, be sure to pick something relevant and easy to remember and spell. This will certainly come in handy as you promote your site on business cards and social media sites.
After grabbing your domain, the next thing you’ll need to do is decide what to do with it. Do you want a website in its truest form? Or maybe a blog? Determining what your central web hub will be may ultimately depend on the conversion you want from your visitors, meaning what step do you want a site visitor to take that will justify the site’s existence (e.g. purchasing a widget, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a survey, etc.)? In future articles, we’ll discuss developing leads and site conversions, but now’s the time to think “What’s the ONE thing I want visitors to do before they leave my site today?”. Then, build a site that makes that happen. With your domain and purpose intact, getting your website up and running should be a breeze (at least in terms of staking your claim). Check out “5 Steps to Getting Online Fast” for the 5 steps you should follow to get a website built and on the web in a fairly short amount of time.
Your next task is claiming your brand name (and your name – especially if your name is your brand) on social media sites to hopefully avoid someone else taking it and brand squatting with it, perhaps to request tons of money to turn it over to you later. When you set up your account on these sites, be sure to include a link to your central web hub (i.e. your website or blog), and if you haven’t quite determined how you intend to use the account, add a note in the bio section of the account to where your most active online activity occurs, and let people know you don’t check this specific account that often, at the present time. This will help push people where you want them to go, and help ease some of the frustration from someone that follows your brand but gets discouraged after not seeing much activity on the account’s feed. So, with this in mind, visit the following sites and stake your claim:
- Facebook (You’re going to set up a Page for your business, not an account that lets you “friend” people).
- Twitter (Take the time to find a few of your industry’s leaders and follow them. This will help keep you informed on developments in your industry).
- LinkedIn (Great for professionals, and a great way to solidify your company name. You’ll need to set up a LinkedIn account for yourself, but this will be another great way to promote yourself as the leader of your company).
- YouTube (Even if you haven’t decided how Video Marketing may enter your overall marketing plan, grab your username on the World’s Largest Video-Sharing Website).
- foursquare (If you run a location-based business, setting up an account on foursquare will be great for converting online traffic into in-store sales and leads).
There may be other social networks that more closely relate to your field or industry like Pinterest or Flickr, so go ahead and grab your name on those platforms too. Also, if you already have your logo or primary brand colors, be sure to customize your accounts so that your brand imagery is consistent throughout each platform!
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