In today’s mid-Covid reality, maintaining an online presence is arguably more important than ever before, and that is true of all industries, including the events & hospitality industries!
The internet has become our office, our boardroom, our shopping mall, and our social scene.
When was the last time you really thought about the role the internet plays in your life?
From targeted ads influencing our shopping choices, to influencers and trends dictating how we spend our time and money – the internet has a tangible, real-world impact on our lives.
This really should serve to remind us how important it is for our businesses to join in the global conversation.
There are millions of people online just waiting to consume the content you could put out!
You wouldn’t want to miss out on potential business due to a lacklustre online presence, would you?
What is an Online Presence?
Maintaining an online presence doesn’t need to be a costly affair.
If you have limited resources, or time available, it is easy to make use of free, standard format offerings, including social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
However, arguably the most important online home for your business is your website.
An up-to-date, functional and aesthetically pleasing website lends credibility to your business on all other online and social media platforms.
The more platforms you are active on, the greater your potential reach, so you may be tempted to aim for quantity over quality, however, quality remains king.
This means that it is more important and beneficial to maintain an active and engaging presence on a handful of online platforms, than to have inactive accounts on more platforms.
In the events and hospitality industry, it is also important to remember that potential clientele shop with their eyes – showing them examples of your previous work will go a long way towards converting “maybes” into a world full of “yes!”.
What is an “Owned” Online Presence?
Your owned online presence is everything on the internet published by or that is within your business’s control.
For example, your website, your Facebook page, the company blog posts, and LinkedIn accounts all form part of your owned online presence.
This is the online identity which you can control, and which allows you to curate the public perception of your business.
Taking ownership of your online presence should include ensuring that your website is user friendly, and that you showcase the very best of that which your business has to offer!
What is an “Earned” Online Presence?
Your earned online presence is what the internet has to say about your business.
Your earned online presence is entirely outside the business’s control and includes things like reviews, consumer interactions and mentions, and even listings in online directories or rankings or similar lists compiled by other businesses.
This is like the “word of mouth” of the digital age, and your earned online presence simply means people are talking about you!
What does an Online Presence allow you to do?
Build Brand Awareness
Maintaining an online presence, especially if you’re making use of free-to-use online platforms such as social media platforms, allows you to get eyes on your brand without having to make a large capital investment.
Maintaining an active presence on social media can also end up doing your marketing work for you.
Shares on Facebook and Instagram are the new “word of mouth,” so creating quality content that followers will be keen to talk about and share with their friends and family is a great way to boost your “earned” online presence.
This can all be done without spending money on expensive paid advertising solutions.
To find out more about The Aleit Academy Diploma in Event Coordination, visit our page.
Maintaining an active social media presence and online presence reflects well on the reliability of your brand, and fosters trust between your business and your target market.
You can use your online presence to boost your credibility by posting expert knowledge for public consumption, often in the form of blog posts, for example.
This can also be done by connecting directly with clientele and answering their questions in a public forum, such as in the comments section of Facebook or Instagram.
People like businesses who aren’t just faceless corporations, but who share the inner workings of the company.
Connect with Customers & Clientele
The easiest way to reach people across time and space is online – from Zoom meetings to live watching parties, from Twitter to LinkedIn and Facebook and everything in between – connecting with people has never been easier.
This is why it’s key to get chatting and get connected with your target market.
Nobody can tell you your target market’s wants and needs better than they can themselves, and there’s no better way to listen these days than by engaging with them online!
Why Should I Maintain an Online Presence?
In a nutshell:
Because your target market is already there and primed to consume your content.
If that’s not reason enough, maybe the fact that your competitors are already there?
If your target market is searching for a service provider near them, wouldn’t you like to be the one they find first?
Or the one they can see comes highly recommended?
Your owned online presence shows them you’re there and ready to assist them.
Your earned online presence is what sways individuals and entices them to select your company as opposed to a competitor’s, and the only way to improve on or establish an earned online presence is to begin by fostering your owned online presence.
To find out more about The Aleit Academy Diploma in Hotel & Tourism Management, visit our page.
Where do I start?
Your Website – Your Digital Home
You can’t build a house without strong foundations, and you can’t build an online presence without a website.
It needn’t cost a fortune, and it needn’t have all the bells and whistles if you can’t afford them, but it does need to be easy to navigate, and contain all the crucial information pertaining to your business, its operations, and how to reach you.
Search Engine Optimization
Your next step is optimising your website for search engines.
This means creating content on your website that Google can understand and index, which improves your organic search rankings.
Basically, your goal is to create content that Google can understand and decide is relevant to your potential customers’ Google searches.
If you cannot afford to pay professionals to do your SEO, start by asking yourself what your customers are likely to search for on Google when they’re looking for your business, or a business operating in your sector, or offering your services, and start by creating quality content using those keywords and answering those questions etc.
They say Facebook has gone the way of skinny jeans – apparently both are no longer fashionable among today’s youth; meaning you best maintain a Facebook presence if your target audience is over 25 years of age, and/or that you need to get hip with the kids and explore other social media platforms like SnapChat and TikTok if your target market is broadly teen-based.
Maintaining a social media presence can be extremely time consuming, and with so many platforms to choose from, it’s important that you make sure that your target audience are using the apps you’re posting to, and that your content is geared towards your social media platform of choice’s audience.
Instagram, for example, is a great place to advertise your products and reach visually-driven audiences if you’re selling beautiful products like jewellery or clothing. It is a less-ideal social media platform for those advertising services, like accounting.
LinkedIn, in contrast, is a great platform to leverage to build brand awareness for, for example, law firms or other large corporations.
Pro Tips for Perfecting your Online Presence
You Eat With Your Eyes First
By the time we open our social media platforms, or the shopping application of our favourite store, our number one goal is to look at beautiful pictures and we are immediately drawn to the ones that are captured in the most aesthetically pleasing way.
The caption, and even the price tag, plays second fiddle to the eye-catching images on our screens.
This is why it is important to remember that social media platforms today are, first and foremost, visually driven platforms.
Visuals are therefore the key to engaging with your audience – especially given the attention deficit and short attention span of consumers today.
Engaging with your audience is a great way to prove that you are accessible as a business, and that people can reach you in real time without the social anxiety of a phone call, or endless hours of waiting on hold.
When it comes to social platforms, it is important for you to sell your aesthetic and build relationships with your audience – this is the place to be personable, not to drive a hard bargain advertising-wise.
Approaching your audience with personality is a great way to do this; use humour, be relatable and forthcoming, and invite criticism and suggestions for improvements – this can really only work to your advantage.
It is more important now than ever before to maintain an online presence, and this goes for the event and hospitality industries as well!
Maintaining an active and aesthetically pleasing online presence can mean the difference between business booming, and a post-pandemic slump.
Get your business out there, post examples of your work, and engage with your followers in the hopes that they may become future clientele!
Here at The Aleit Academy, we can testify to the powers of maintaining an optimum online presence – posting on social media, maintaining our website and engaging with prospective students means we always have a full roster of students at our institution, and that we can cherry-pick the best of the best applicants from all over the world!
Ultimately, life in the Covid-age is increasingly being lived online, and if your business doesn’t have an online presence, you’re missing out.
Join the conversation, get connected, and get online – the world wide web is waiting for you!
To find out more about The Aleit Academy Diplomas in Event Coordination or Hotel & Tourism Management, visit our page.