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Your Online Presence: It Starts With a Website

An interesting conversation started on our Facebook page the other day. My business partner posted an article about an event that Google was hosting in Honolulu to help businesses build a website, for free! The shocking statistic that pulled everyone into this post was that Google reported 68% of small businesses in Hawaii don’t have a website.

You can see the details of the event HERE.

When I read that statistic, I was literally shocked. But then when I began to think about all the times I would search for a small local business online and find nothing it began to make more sense.

The catalyst for the Facebook conversation was in the details of the event that Google was hosting. They would get your business online, but use Intuit to design these free websites. While we all applaud Google for helping to lower the shocking percentage, a few of our local colleagues did not think that was the best solution.

Roxanne Darling Amazing stat. But PULLEASE do not build your website with Intuit! Google, darling, please go back to what you do well and leave the site-building to us!

Peter Liu Whether it’s called a website or anything else, you need a place for your content to live that you OWN. The technologies will evolve. But Intuit? Ew.

Jon Brown I think the vast majority of cases having any site is better than none. However if you except the premise that having a site is _valuable_ to any business then any business needs to get over the idea that it’s going to be easy and nearly free. I recommend WordPress or hiring someone to do it for you.

Gene Park I admit I was also taken aback by the promised use of Intuit. But if this is a do it yourself workshop, then I suppose it’ll do and it’s mostly just to get these small mom and pops online at all, not so much have a whizbang web presence. It’s more like a spark to start a fire, so they might want to improve their web presence even MORE and then seek out WordPress gurus.

Erik Blair As social media and blogs evolve they may become more alike and even more cross-functional. The result may one day mean less value having a hub we call a “blog”, and more value with brand reach across platforms. But for now, for most people just entering the “game”, a wordpress blog IS the best bet.

Read the full conversation on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/wahinemedia/posts/358008944277570

Is any website better than no website at all?
For anyone who has experience with WordPress it comes easy. But how easy does it come for a mom and pop business owner who spends most of their time running their business? From our experience, business owners are so busy they have a hard time keeping up with their email, much less the basics of WordPress. Intuit may not be the “right” way to build a website, but isn’t anything better than nothing?

So I’m putting this question out to you. Which is better? No website, or the best website?

If you were searching for a small business online, what are your expectations for an online presence? Is it forgivable if their website looks outdated, or less forgivable that they don’t have a website at all?

What’s in a healthy only presence?
I advocate for an online presence no matter how it’s done. It’s kind of a no brainer, if 97% of people are looking online for local products and services, you better be there. An online presence starts with a website but it is so much more. Google indexes most of your online activity including social media, so I’m leaving you with my checklist for a healthy online presence:

  • Website: should be your home base. Keep in mind it’s the ONLY place online where you set the rules. No matter what platform you use, always keep your website updated. Blogging is even better—posting regularly has a long list of benefits but requires a commitment.
  • Facebook: Fill out your profile completely; add a great cover photo and profile picture. Post regularly and always spend time in your home feed engaging off the page.
  • Twitter: is where you will make the most personal connections. Twitter is about conversation and networking and don’t be afraid to Tweet often!
  • Google +: a presence here will help your search rankings, but the content posted here won’t be too much different than what you post on Facebook. It’s safe to say you can have the same habits on Google + that you have on Facebook.
  • Instagram, Pinterest: Photos are one of the best investments you can make, so if you are a business that can tell your story using photos (that’s about 99% of you), invest in taking original photos or have someone do it for you.

This post was originally published on Digital Ethos HERE 

Here are some other great articles from some of my local cohorts to help you have a healthy online presence:

Where to Find a Free Photos For Your Blog | TaDah Social Media
http://tadahsocialmedia.com/2012/04/where-to-find-to-find-free-photos-for-your-blog/

Best Practices and Howto for a Twitter Hashtag Chat | Bare Feet Studios
http://www.barefeetstudios.com/2012/08/10/best-practices-for-a-twitter-hashtag-chat/

What’s the ROI of Social Media Silence? | Akamai Marketing
http://akamai-marketing.com/wordpress/2012/02/21/social-media-roi-of-silence/

How To Respond to a PR Communications Crisis | Kinoshita Communications
http://info.laura-kinoshita.com/blog/bid/58156/How-to-Respond-to-a-PR-Communications-Crisis

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About Gwen Woltz

Gwen Woltz is co-founder of Wahine Media, a local social media agency specializing in strategically building thriving and engaged online communities for businesses. Gwen is President of Social Media Club Hawaii, was a finalist for Pacific Edge Magazine's Young Professional of the Year, and is an instructor of social media at Pacific New Media Outreach College at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.