In this day and age, it may be difficult for a small business owner to decide what to do first when it comes to marketing and advertising. After all, during the start up period everything is a priority including but not limited to raising capital, finding a location, developing a product, hiring a good staff, creating expense reports and handling payroll. This is a critical phase for entrepreneurs during start up and I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed but you have to ask yourself, what should I begin first – a website or social networking?
Both are important and can act as a real asset to your new business and both are beneficial in different ways. A website is your online showroom, your new business storefront to the massive online community and can sometimes act as a source for selling your products (if that is what you’ll be doing). Websites are great to place on business cards and promote through community events you may be attending and/or sponsoring. Besides, everyone who is anyone has a had a website since the late 90’s, right?
But wait, isn’t social networking the latest and greatest trend? Isn’t it the best way to directly reach customers in real-time? Well yes, it is indeed. Social networking is perfect for small businesses, especially those who are starting locally owned and operated companies like coffee shops, stores, art depots and those like. Services such as Facebook Pages, Twitter and Tumblr are all free and can provide you with the means to reach out to your customers where they spend some of their time every day. Reach out to your community directly on Twitter by searching for related topics in your area or on Facebook by creating an ad for your Facebook page right within the Facebook website! There are millions of opportunities to be maximized for your business through social channels.
So what’s the real answer? Should you start with a website or begin your social networking campaign? Both.
If you’re a small business (or of any size for that matter), social networking and websites should work together. Use the networks to cross-promote your website and use your site to showcase your different networks and build a social community that is familiar with your business and its website. The more interesting you make the content on both, the more people will begin to reach out to you and seek your services. You may not know it, but every tweet, blog or status update related to your business is helping with your websites search engine marketing. To put it simply, most content online is search-able by Google and the more you have about your small business that is appreciated and re-distributed through your social networking efforts, the more ‘popular’ Google will rate your efforts and rank your website or network profiles.
The real answer, small business owner, is both. If you’re in a position to hire someone to help with this, I encourage you do so immediately as it takes time to build a social community. If you aren’t, you can find many helpful tips and hints online that can help to get you started on your efforts to create a website or dive into social networking. Don’t wait and do it now!