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MANAGEMENT + SYSTEMS Establishing you.com By Cresta Norris


Never before has a small business had the opportunity to punch above its weight in the world. Through the Internet political movements have mobilised online, governments have been shaken (if not actually toppled), and there has never been a more powerful time to make your voice heard around the globe. Businesses are using the online world to communicate directly with other businesses as well as with their customers.


A


s you will know, online consumers can express an opinion on products and persuade others to buy a particular brand – or not. Amazon encourages readers to review books they buy from the site. Almost any


online selling operation has links to product reviews posted by individual consumers, who do not mince their words if they do not like a particular product. There used to be an old adage in business that one dissatisfied customer could lose you, on average, eight other potential purchasers via word of mouth. Today, the same principle can be numbered in thousands. There is no refuge for the business that messes up.


“Online conversation, at whatever level, is going on all the time. No one is isolated from it.”


But now there are opportunities to communicate on a


business to business basis as well. It can be argued that the majority of online conversations are trivial in the extreme, and often time wasting. Indeed it is hard to disagree with that view, should you happen across one of the online entertainment chat threads, but to sneer at online conversation because in some instances the level of discourse is less than brilliant is to miss the point entirely. Online conversation, at whatever level, is going on all the time. No one is isolated from it. The minute you have an online identity of any sort, you too are out there in public space. This is not always to your advantage and your online reputation is crucial to your business life. Research published this year by the international PR company Edelman shows that people use search engines as their first source for finding information about a company. The technology and techniques of controlling information online can improve your business profits, Googling your


company name is not an act of vanity but an essential strategy in discovering what is out there about you. Monitoring what’s being said where and by whom is the starting point for moving to take control of your online profile. By itself, though, monitoring is not enough. You need to understand how to use Google and other search engines so that when a business searches for information about your company online, they will be directed towards positive sites rather than those that might cause you embarrassment. You also need to understand how to use social networking sites so that you are pro-active in what is being said about your business brand. What does your online business profile say about you? If you


are hoping to attract a financial backer for an entrepreneurial idea, it will sum up both your vision for your project, and what is driving you to make it succeed. If you are trying to create a profile for a product or service it will be about why you feel so strongly about its value. I am not going to pretend that getting either of these written elements right is easy, and if it feels easy, you are probably not doing it right, because it requires you to do one of the hardest things in the world – sum up your aspirations in a paragraph or two, objectively, honestly, and realistically. If your company already has a website it will contain a summary paragraph that describes what you do, now is the time to make sure it really represents your brand. Using the same paragraph as the basis, make a video version.


Research shows that video brings your website or web page to the attention of many more people than simple words or pictures. When you have prepared your paragraph and your video, you


are ready to develop your business to business social networking, it will not cost anything except your time. It will enable your business to develop close connections with other companies that are online, and trust me, they all are already there.


Step 1. Open a company Facebook account Facebook is probably the largest and most popular social


networking site online with over 500 million users worldwide - and many of them are businesses. It’s free to use, because it is funded by advertisers. To start your account you need a username and password. It is a great place to find customers who are interested in your product. It will provide a simple and straightforward place to describe your company. On your Facebook account, upload your carefully written company information statement.


Step 2. Set up a company blog A blog is rather like a website, or part of a website but is


written by one person (that is you) and then added to by regular commentary – usually describing events or activities. So on a


134 Fastener + Fixing Magazine • Issue 71 September 2011


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