Trust is one of the most important factors when it comes to purchasing decisions. If potential clients don’t fully trust you, it’s likely that they won’t buy your products – no matter what you’re offering. That’s why many businesses build a digital presence on a single goal: generating and maintaining trust.
A full digital presence generates a significant amount of trust, even before your client has engaged with your business in any way. All of your digital platforms combine to create authority and credibility for your business. That’s why it’s important to create a digital presence that has extensive roots.
There are two aspects to online trust. First, you need your online audience to trust you with unity across platforms. Second, you need search engines to trust you. If you can achieve trust with clients and search engines, this will combine for powerful marketing that works harder for your business.
Unfortunately, with all the options in the digital realm, it’s difficult to know which platforms and touchpoints you need to create a full digital presence.
Your website is at the very core of your digital presence. The other items in the content map pivot around this central point and feed back into it. Without a website, your digital presence doesn’t have an anchor. Without a website, people searching for your business online may not be able to find you. Not only are you missing out on an opportunity to gain trust, you’re actually harming your audience’s confidence in you.
Since it acts as an anchor, your website needs to truly capture the essence of your business. Before you do anything, you must develop captivating evergreen content – content that lasts a long time, doesn’t become outdated, and is fully representative of your brand image. In particular, your home page should provide a complete overview of the “why, how, and what” of your business. From there, the home page will direct website users to more information on additional website pages.
It’s also important that every other platform is tied into your website. Your website should contain links to all of your social media platforms, videos, and other content on different platforms. Likewise, these platforms should all contain links back to the website.
GMO (Google Maps Optimization)
Location listings are one of the most important (and most overlooked) aspects of the content map. Your listing acts as a solid connection between your business’ digital and physical presence. If your business doesn’t have a location listing, clients and search engines don’t know where to find you offline.
Blogs are often relegated to the “I’ll get to it one day” section in a business owner’s to-do list. It’s a highly neglected and highly useful marketing tool. Blogs help drive traffic to your website, develop brand awareness, establish your authority on a subject, and improve your SEO and visibility.
Website traffic, touchpoints and visibility are some of the most important effects of blogging. When your blogs are easy to share or link to, your content will travel a great distance in the digital world, creating more leads from the web. When third party websites link to your blog post, it also creates a backlink, which tells search engines that you’re an expert on the subject. In turn, this can cause your blog to rank higher in the search engine results for that subject, improving SEO and again increasing visibility.
As an added benefit, blogs are a way to contribute to an online conversation about your brand and business. While third parties may be able to comment on the posts, they won’t be able to change the post itself, which means your brand’s messaging will come across clear, controlled and unmodified for anyone who reads it.
Time spent on social media is crucial to developing a solid online presence. It’s one of the only ways you can establish a conversation with your audience and create a community around your brand.
Social media takes time to develop, and returns are often not seen right away. However, it rounds out your online presence, feeding back into the online trust factor your business is trying to develop. People searching for your business will see that there are real people behind the brand; this goes a long way for your brand value.
A few of the main social media accounts you should have (and their primary functions) include:
LinkedIn, which is especially important for growing your business network and for B2B marketing.
Instagram, which offers in-depth visual representations of your business and can establish a strong brand image.
Facebook, still the largest and most relevant platform for advertisers, it offers a well-rounded content platform with communities and conversations, as well as advertising options.
Twitter, which offers a news outlet for current events, and creates rapid communication and conversation with your audience.
Other Social Platforms to Consider
While several of the most popular and well-known social media platforms offer high traffic, there are smaller platforms that serve highly specific functions. These smaller communities are often tight-knit and highly engaged, and may centre around a particular hobby, interest, or product. If your product caters to a specific community, be sure to research the platforms where this community is most engaged and be active in those places.
For example, Blockchain businesses need to communicate directly with their Blockchain community on forums and platforms. Handmade items fit perfectly into Pinterest, while professionals may be interested in SlideShare to generate website traffic.
There’s no doubt about it; the future of digital art in marketing is found in videos. As far as content goes, video can capture an entire experience in a way that other mediums simply can’t.
The dawn of “YouTube stars” has clearly demonstrated the power of videos. We can capture and hold an audience’s attention. We can truly connect with people.
While sites like YouTube and Vimeo offer a great platform for videos, the amazing thing about video content is how versatile it is. Many modern websites open with engaging videos. Blogs and media centres can have embedded video content, and of course, videos can easily travel the world when they’re shared on social media platforms. The future of online storytelling is in videos, and this is one aspect of a digital presence you will not want to overlook.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO helps people find you online when they’re searching for your products or services. Think of SEO as a GPS system for your brand. Search engines have their own algorithms to classify and rank content according to their authority – in other words, their “trust” factor. If your content is deemed highly trustworthy and relevant to a specific topic, you’ll appear closer to the top of the search engine results.
We’ve covered some SEO components in the above items, but it’s a complex process with many activities, which is why it should have its own place in your content map. A few easy ways to contribute to positive SEO are:
Having all of the above platforms included as part of your content map (whether or not you’re regularly using them). This especially includes your locating listings.
Creating new content regularly.
Sharing your content on social media and other platforms, and having it shared by others.
Establishing backlinks to your site from other authoritative third party sources (which can be accomplished through strategic partnerships, guest blogging, or targeted SEO management through an SEO specialist).
Once you’ve achieved excellent SEO, it increases your online trust factor or in SEO what is called "Authority". That means two things: that search engines have a high degree of trust for your content, and that your audience has more trust for your brand. In turn, each of these types of trust builds on the other. The result is that every action you take to build trust is magnified twice over in the digital world.
Pay-per-click advertising can help people searching for your services or products find you more easily. The first items to show on a Google search results page are the pay-per-click Google ads.
How does it work? Google AdWords offers a system in which you can bid on certain keywords, allowing your link to your website to appear before your competitors’ sites. Pay-per-click ads are a surefire way to stay on top of competition, especially when your industry is crowded online. If you back up your Google ads with great content, you’ll likely see massive growth in a short period of time.
What Does a Full Digital Presence Look Like?
It’s easy to see that none of the items on the content map work individually. They all feed into the overall digital presence you’ve created. Social media drives traffic to your blog, your location listing improves your SEO, and your pay-per-click ads drive traffic to your website. It all works together, which is why it’s important to create all of the pieces of the puzzle. If that seems overwhelming at first glance, don’t worry. Our next blog post will reveal how you can manage it all, without falling behind.
First, let’s review your current content map and create a new one to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
Evaluate Your Current Presence and Spot the Gaps
The content map shows you all the main options that contribute to a full digital presence. There may be more options to include in your content map, depending on your business and the competition.
Which of the platforms and touchpoints are you currently using in your strategy? Look at the platforms where you’re most active and put a checkmark beside them.
Then, take a look at the platforms you have left. Where did you fall short in the content map? Have you skipped over a few of these essential elements? If so, it’s time to start strategizing to round out your online presence. This may seem like a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you can, divide your tasks up by the actions you need to take:
Which platforms do I need to create accounts for?
Which platforms need some work to look well-branded and ready for content?
Which platforms do I need to post content on more regularly?
The first step is creating platforms, and it’s a vital step that you can’t overlook. Even if you know you won’t be able to post regularly on a platform, create it now. Set up an account, enter your details and some branding, and walk away.
Simply having that additional platform contributes greatly to the level of trust your audience and search engines will have for your brand. It adds another place where people can find you, and the more extensive your online presence is, the more credible you become.
Remember: Don’t Over-Complicate It
Once you can sit down with a full content map, rounding out your online presence shouldn’t feel overwhelming. If you have a few checkmarks on platforms you’re already using, you’re off to a great start. The next steps can take some time, but none of it has to be done in a single day. In fact, we don’t recommend rushing into creating content for all of these platforms at once! If you do, you’ll likely burn out and lose your enthusiasm, and that brings you right back to the starting point.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stay tuned! In our next blog, we’ll talk about how you can manage an extensive online presence, without overextending yourself.