When you know how to do something it is almost unimaginable that others struggle with the same topic.  What you do, every day in the course of your work, becomes the norm and explaining it to other people can become frustrating.  I would not have a clue where to start if I was asked to replace a clutch, that’s what mechanics are for, so why, why was I surprised when I had a conversation with a client who was pulling her hair out trying to organise her website, social media and email platforms?  It all seemed so easy to me, but it did get me thinking.

She runs a pet shop, it’s her business, she has a database of over 2000 customers, she has accessories for sale, she has a veterinary practice in the shop, she has a poodle parlour and, of course, pet foods. The business has repeat customers, walk-ins, emergencies, booked appointments, in fact all the processes could be transferred into any retail business.

She had a domain name (that’s your www. bit), had paid a web development company £400 to upload a static copy of her business card to a home page, which included a contact us button which went, would you believe, to an hotmail address!  She had set up a Facebook page but wasn’t sure what to do with it and the same went for Twitter. In short, she knew she needed all these things to communicate with her customers, but in reality everything in her business continued as if none of these platforms existed. We soon changed that.

But what if you are in a similar fix and I suspect many of you are.  How do you go about finding someone reliable to put this together for you?  What should you expect to pay? What should expect the website and social media to do?  How do you ensure you, or a colleague, do not spend all day addicted to counting likes, replying to messages or posting general rubbish?  If you have a decent web presence, you want it working for you and not vice-versa and that is a tricky tightrope to walk.

What do you want from your internet presence? Let’s face it, it is the World Wide Web and your marketing activity should be concentrated to the geographical area you operate and one could reasonably assume that this is fairly local – maybe within a 20 mile radius.  What’s the point of having somebody in Michegan following you on Facebook or Instagram, they are hardly likely to pop over see you!

Your website should be at minimum, a brochure type website.  By this I mean that it should be a static advertisement for all the facets that make your business what it is. People in your town or nearby should be able to find you easily on Google and then get an understanding of the services you offer, hours of business and a feel for your business. It will need contact information and a highly visible telephone number and, as stated, this really is a minimum.

Keeping the website fresh is also important and you can do this by submitting posts – let’s call them news. News is what you would tell your mates in the pub after work, if you think they will find it interesting then tell your customers and potential customers. It might be you have a promotion, special offer, have recently installed new equipment or have just completed a job on a rare vehicle or experienced something out of the ordinary.

Do you need Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc? Yes, you do but why and how do you make it work? So many people use social media platforms that you would be foolish to ignore them – it is a really valuable tool for distributing information quickly to you audience.  Make sure you limit your posts to items that are relevant to your business, this is why people follow you – they don’t want to know what you thought about last night’s football. You will have direct messages sent via these platforms, treat them as email, reply swiftly, if someone has taken the trouble to look for you, connect with you and then send you a message, reply and reply quickly.  With the correct set up for your website this can all be managed from one location, ie you do not have to duplicate your effort. Write your news for your website and let that repost across your social media platforms.

Our sister company Sites43 built a new site for this client.  They linked all the social media accounts and gave her an easy-to-understand handbook she has quickly mastered keeping her website fresh.  Check it out here.

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