Thanks to the super-connected digital age we now live in, where a tsunami of information about all of us is available at any given time, the same care and attention you apply to your in-person presence must now be applied to your online reputation.
How much are we affected by our digital selves? According to eCommerce.org.nz, “Almost half of Kiwis agree they research products and services online before buying in-store, and almost 1 in 3 did product research online within the last four weeks.”
This New Zealand based study, along with countless others, reveals that people are Googling you, your business and your brand well before you come into contact with them. Opinions are being formed about you; your credibility is being assessed and a powerful and lasting first impression has already been made about your trustworthiness.
More than three billion people around the world now (that’s closing on half the global population) use the internet. Over 2 billion people have social media accounts. 70% of these people are online everyday. To not be aware of these change and how they impact on us in business, only makes us vulnerable to being left behind — to no longer being relevant to our consumers. To letting our competitors provide a superior customer experience. There is no question about it: A stand-out online presence is a must.
So how can you extend your reach in the digital world and appear as good online as you do offline? Begin by starting a Facebook business page. By sharing professional and relevant pictures, links, and updates, you will instantly improve your reach. Twitter is also a wonderful tool for salespeople to share industry updates and connect with clients, while LinkedIn is the place to show off your experience and business style. LinkedIn is like your business card online. It also allows you the opportunity to network with groups and communities relevant to your business. On each of these platforms you should be mindful not to ‘spam’ your connections with weak posts and self-promotions – you will not win business that way. A rule of thumb is to post and share content that both engages and educates your audience and is consistent over time. Keep the principle of reciprocity in mind and provide your audience value so they can see your expertise and appreciate your contributions. Simply put: give to get.
Many sales people who have mastered the online space are using video in their social media activities. Having a presence on Youtube is an excellent way to get you onto that vital first page of Google search results. Youtube is owned by Google and is the second largest search engine in the world. Ensure your videos have a clear and engaging message and use them also to show professionalism and personality. They are a great way of building your personal brand within your business brand.
Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom have also emerged as a preferred tool for sales people to hold video conferences when meeting in person just isn’t an option.The benefit of Zoom is that it can quickly and easily record your video call, converting it instantly into an MP3 and making it available for you to use again and again. Each of these tools can be utilised as short, snappy platforms to showcase your knowledge, share your interests, and to show photos of products you have available. Connecting with the world through video adds a humanizing element that can quickly create a rapport with potential clients you haven’t yet met.
It is human nature to want to buy from people we know and like and we flock to those we feel we trust. By showcasing your best self on social media and presenting your business and service in a positive light, you’re ensuring that those who come across you online will be much more easily converted into future clients. When people feel like they’ve already met you – and that first impression has been positive – the trust that otherwise can take months or even years to build has already been forged. Convert that then into a face to face meeting and you have a fabulous head start over your competitors. Using online and offline in an integrated and professional manner ensures that you remain relevant in a rapidly changing world, as well as creating lots of valuable new clients.
Sarah Pearce is a professional speaker, business coach and author of Online Reputation:Your Most Valuable Asset in a Digital Age.