Main Content

Back to Blog List

  • 31 July 2014
  • Joel D. Freeman

Your business image is online

If you operate a real-world, mom-and-pop shop, you might worry that your brick-and-mortar business image is stuck in the 20th century. The truth, however, is that you can use social media to gain advantages no Internet retail giant will ever experience. You can connect with your customers and forge strong bonds that last far beyond a browser session.

A brand used to be just a symbol identifying the owner or origin of a company or product. In today's media-saturated life, your brand now includes how people feel about you and your products and services, whether your business is candy bars, cleaning services, or computer peripherals.

In today’s media-saturated life, your brand now includes how people feel about you and your products and services...

The meaning of community has changed, too. Way back in the late 20th century, a small business often defined its market geographically — by neighborhood or town, for example. Bonds were often based on proximity alone. But in an always-on, Internet-fueled world, your market relies less on geography and more on individual likes and interests. This new market model is a complex organism that marketing consultants like to call a brand community.

So, where does your business image fit in? Everywhere. The brand community is all about your brand — Brand You, in particular. As mayor of that community, it is up to you to reinforce the way people think and feel about your business. Digital media — emails, tweets, web pages, or texts — can connect you with your market quickly and inexpensively.

People will talk

On the Web, what were once private conversations about personal opinions can now blow up into public discussions very quickly. Invariably, the first "speakers" often set the tone of any ensuing dialogue. Many business owners on the receiving end of a bad review on Yelp or Facebook can tell you how opinion battles among customers can turn into a black hole. The battle over viewpoints can become more important than your actual products and services. Worse still, it drives potential customers away.

The beauty of this situation is that you, small business owner and mayor of Brand You, can set the tone of that public dialogue by employing social media effectively. Start building your brand community by engaging — not snagging, hooking, or snaring — your customers in the ongoing conversation that ties the citizens of your brand community together.

Whatever method you choose to reach out to them, be sure you use their preferred method. And be sure you never send anything that is not important to them. (Digital spam comes in multiple flavors, not just email!) You could reach out to them about the status of their account or order, today's specials, or simply to thank them for their patronage.

It is who you know

Get to Know Your Customers Day occurs on the third Thursday of every quarter – the next one is September 19th – and it is the perfect time to begin reaching out to your customers through social media.

One of the great things about digital communication is its immediacy. If you have a special in-store event in honor of Get to Know Your Customers Day, reach out via your social channels to let your customers know. Your targeted electronic message (again, email, tweet, web page, or text) could be just the thing to bring them in.

A 21st century Brand You

Not that long ago, people thought online communication was impersonal — not something you would use to forge and maintain a close bond. Not anymore. Now, digital communications are a quick, efficient, effective way to show your customers you care about them and their daily lives. Show them by keeping them informed in the quickest, most efficient and effective way possible.

Make the people in your brand community feel good about themselves, and they will feel good about you. When you pay attention to your online business image, your bricks and mortar will never look better.

Back to Blog List