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What Not to Do With Your Online Presence in 2013

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Now that your business has survived the much-hyped "end of the world," handling your online marketing should be a piece of cake, right? But just in case you need some help, here's a list of 10 do's and 10 don'ts to keep your online presence on the right track in 2013.

Don't: Use blanket "Like Us" messages to drive people to your social media pages.

Do: Give consumers a reason to like you, follow you, circle you, or whatever other action they need to take when promoting your social pages in emails, blogs, or your website. Highlight unique benefits they get by joining your social community—exclusive offers, contests, entertaining or informative content—to show that you understand what they want.

Don't: Set up social profiles and leave them virtual ghost towns.

Do: Show off your business on social media by posting relevant, useful, and sharable content. Engaging polls, fun videos of new products or services, or fan/follower-only deals, specials, or events are great places to start. And if you're not sure what to post, go directly to the source and ask current fans and followers what they'd like to see.

Don't: Set and forget your online marketing campaigns.

Do: Create effective ads with strong CTAs (calls to action) and keep any offers, specials, products, or services listed in your ads up to date. An online ad can be your potential customers' first impression of your business online, so make it a strong one. Also, actively monitor your campaign performance to see what works to drive the most leads and adjust your efforts accordingly. Because who doesn't want better ROI?

Don't: Substitute a social media page for a website.

Do: Get a professional website. Social media pages are an excellent addition to your online presence, but they are no substitute for your own website. With a website, you have not only control of the content but also more opportunities to track activity, such as phone calls, visits, and clicks, which you can then use to optimize content and manage new leads. Plus, you can create custom landing pages on your own website to direct advertising to for even better results.

Don't: Abuse your business blog.

Do: Use your blog to demonstrate your expertise and leadership in your industry. Write optimized content with primary keywords in mind, but avoid keyword-stuffing if you want search engines and readers to find you credible. Also, don't leave your blog in the dark. Plan a schedule for posting relevant and fresh content for your readers, and keep to that schedule.

Don't: Build a "flashy" mobile website.

Do: Invest in a mobile-friendly website and skip heavy design elements, like banners or videos in Flash, which might slow down the load time, or not load at all for some mobile users. Today, more and more consumers search for businesses while on the go, so your mobile website should be easy to navigate and include features like click-to-call, hours, and a map.

Don't: Let your business go unlisted online.

Do: Claim your business listings on Google+ Local, Yelp, and any other industry-specific local directories. By claiming your business listings in these places, you can always make sure that your information is current and accurate. Plus, by optimizing your listings for search engines, you boost the chances that local consumers find you when they search online.

Don't: Leave consumers guessing about how to contact you.

Do: Display your business name, address, phone number email address and other information noticeably on your website, listings, social media profiles, and any other online space that you own. It's also a great idea to double-check that information, along with items like your address and hours of operation, for accuracy and consistency across your online presence. Doing so can help search engines recognize and better rank your business in local search.

Don't: Assume reviews don't matter.

Do: Create a plan for monitoring and managing your online reputation. Set up notifications, like Google Alerts, so that you are always aware of what consumers are saying about you online. Also, follow up with any negative comments in a timely and professional manner, and thank reviewers who leave positive feedback.

Don't: Forget that happy customers are your best advocates.

Do: Ask some of your best customers to share their positive reviews, whether written or via video, to use on your social media pages, company blog, and website to establish credibility for your business. Also, since consumers may be prone to sharing negative feedback online, make sure you are prone to providing excellent customer service.

What additional steps are you taking in 2013 to boost your online presence?

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Tara Banda is a content marketing manager for ReachLocal, a global online marketing firm. On the ReachLocal blog she writes about how businesses can reach consumers with local online marketing.


Twitter: @Tbanda

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  • by Yinka Olaito Mon Feb 4, 2013 via web

    Very apt and spot on piece. Thank you very much tara. The one that appealed to me most is google+local for search and visibility

  • by David Corle Mon Feb 4, 2013 via mobile

    I'm trying to really make people aware of the need to present themselves in a professional manner online. One way this can be done is by getting a professional headshot. If I've said it once I've said it a million times...a bad picture or no picture is death to your social media presence. Multiple studies show how important this often overlooked aspect is to creating confidence in those who are linking to you online. Get serious about your career. Get a professional headshot.

  • by Ashley Petrons Tue Feb 5, 2013 via web

    A really helpful set of 'Do's' and 'Don'ts' - thanks for the tips!

  • by Michael O'Daniel Wed Feb 6, 2013 via web

    The most valuable tip, worth all the others put together: Don't substitute a social media page for a website. To that I would add: Don't substitute a social media page for a good outbound direct marketing campaign. A friend who is a social media "expert' tried using Facebook as his sole marketing vehicle for pre-Christmas e-commerce sales offering one particular item and bombed horrendously. I gently reminded him that one needs to mix in a bit of traditional marketing as well -- even if just some sponsored links, adwords, whatever, rather than expect the world to come to you because you have a great FB page.

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