It’s common knowledge, an online presence is a must. Today, technology is rapidly changing consumers’ behaviour and the way business is done; yet there are numerous businesses that do not have an online presence as yet. We’ve set out two major reasons why now is the time to get serious about your business online presence.
1. Digital growth in South Africa
We are social’s January 2016 report reflects the growth of digital in South Africa.
Almost 50% of our total population have access to the internet. 24% are active social media users; 156% have access to mobile subscriptions. 18% access social media via mobile devices.
The frequency of internet use is depicted below:
We can only expect to see an increase in the number of South Africans gaining access to the internet, therefore the above data proposes that a responsive website, followed by a presence on social media is essential.
2. Affordable internet for all South Africans by 2020
South Africa’s national infrastructure plan sets out the government’s goals around communication technology and the provision of affordable broadband to all households by 2020. Blink and it’s 2020 and people are now sourcing information and conducting business differently to how it was done in 2016.
Whilst there are certainly some challenges to delivering on these goals, anyone watching the media for reports on the governments’ progress will recognise significant achievements and milestones reached towards attaining these goals.
As broadband and mobile devices become more affordable to South Africans, business owners should now be implementing strategies that ensure an active online presence that will enable you to compete against your competitors for your customers’ attention and loyalty.
A competitive online presence requires an on-going strategy towards ranking well within Google search results pages so that Google can serve up your web-pages instead of your competitors, this is another topic for another blog.
If you are serious about starting the process towards an online presence, here are a few tips that could help you:
i) A website is an absolute must for an online presence
Remember the days when having a landline gave any business some form of credibility and trust? A website does the same thing for your business. It’s your piece of online real-estate that adds a level of trust for new and existing customers.
Another must is to ensure that your website is responsive to mobile device. People no longer have the patience to scroll and zoom to read the content on your website and will quickly leave your website in search of another responsive website.
If your business cannot afford the cost of a website, spend the time learning how to build your own WordPress website or try WIX which offers free websites that can be customized to suit your business. We would however recommend a self-hosted website for the long-term cost savings, and for the flexibility that it offers compared to a WordPress or Wix hosted website.
Start a blog – by doing this Google recognises that your website is active and will index your website based on your content and keywords (plus a host of other SEO ranking factors). This is a good start to your journey of ranking within Google’s index of websites.
Don’t believe that having a Facebook or Twitter account is enough. As per the stats above, only 24% of the population are active social media users. In addition with technology driving consumers behaviour and with new social media platforms being introduced, your customers will be moving off one social media platform and onto the next because technology and trends invite them to do so, leaving you to re-start and build your online presence on the newest platform.
ii) Social media
Social media is best used as a marketing tool and should not only be used to sell. Use social media to communicate, engage, build relationships and learn more about your customers which in turn will assist and influence your sales.
Your brand does not necessarily need a presence on every platform. Identify the platforms where your customers spend the majority of their time and where you’ll get the most engagement in the form of likes, views, shares, comments etc,
Social media platforms can contribute to your website’s Google ranking. Make sure that you’re including your website’s URL links in your profile / bio pages.
Don’t make the mistake to think that a website alone is a good enough “online presence”. With more people gaining access to broadband and mobile, accessing various social media platforms will become second nature. Dedicate enough resources (time, people and money) to ensure that your business has an active social media presence that is available to new and existing customers.
Be consistently active on social media which helps to build trust and credibility for your business.