For startups and small businesses just getting their feet wet, knowing how to maintain an authoritative online presence is the key to success.

“If you build it, they will come.” is one of the most disastrous advice for a startup. Unless your product/service is so unique, novel, or radical that it automatically drives crazy word-of-mouth (which ultimately attracts attention from the press), you cannot afford to overlook the importance of establishing a strong online presence for your business.

Simply put, your startup may have the best product or service in the market, standing head and shoulders above the competition, but what good is it if people can’t find your business. And make no mistake — your potential customers are all online searching for products and services that solve their problems.

So, a stout online presence enables people to find your offerings and confirm your business is veritable. Plus, your online interactions with your audience provide a glimpse into the quality of your products/services.

Not sure where to begin? Here are three actionable steps you can take right away to start building your startup’s online presence.

Build a solid social media presence on select platforms

Social media gives you an opportunity to show the human side of your business and have a real dialogue with your customers. In the long run, it is one of the best ways to lower your customer acquisition cost (CAC) and increase customer lifetime value (CLV).

What’s more, a strong social media presence gives your startup that all-important social proof. Before they part with their hard-earned money, clients want evidence that what you’re offering is genuine and sought-after by others. Earning reviews, shoutouts, and compliments on social media from your past clients can skyrocket your startup’s credibility.

While on the subject of reviews, the more the merrier. Of course, positive reviews are what you should aim for, but even negative reviews are a boon. They help boost your startup’s authenticity and serve as an opportunity to improve your product/service and prove that you care about your clients’ satisfaction.

Anyway, getting your social media game right is critical. First off, pick the right platform — for instance, if you’re a B2B SaaS startup, focusing all your efforts on building authority on LinkedIn and Twitter is likely your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re a retail e-commerce store, Facebook and Instagram is the way to go.

Next, do the following things on your choice of social handles to start gaining traction:

  • Post quality visual content related to your products, such as lifestyle images.
  • Ask open-ended questions to drive more engagement.
  • Show the behind-the-scenes of your startup, by vlogging or posting employee stories.
  • Tell stories and don’t be too formal, instead, be humorous and genial with your audience.

Also, apart from the conventional social media channels, try to provide original, valuable answers on social networking forums and Q&A websites such as Reddit and Quora. Engage with your target audience and help them without promoting your business. Do this consistently for a few months and you’ll begin seeing the fruits of your labor in terms of higher traffic, brand awareness, and authority.

Publish useful content on your own website

Let’s assume you took your time to come up with a great company and domain name, developed an amazing-looking, functioning website, and finally made it live on the internet. Now what?

Three words: publish useful content.

While being active on social media is pivotal to boosting brand awareness, creating useful content that’s exclusive to your own website has its own big benefits.

That is, website content such as comprehensive how-to guides, fun listicles, and interactive quizzes that just begs to be shared and bookmarked by the audience can go a long way in solidifying your startup’s online presence.

Moreover, such content is valuable to not just your audience but also to the search engines, such as Google. The more content you publish on your site, and the higher the quality of that content, the more likely your business will rank towards the top of Google search. That’s because content helps search crawlers better understand what your startup is about and makes it easier to crawl and index your site properly.

After all, having a powerful online presence is all about showing up on social media and on search engines.

Contribute content to authority publications and popular blogs

Continuing along the same lines, you must also plan content (in the form of guest posts and infographics) that you can contribute to external publications and niche blogs that are relevant to your business, as earning mentions and backlinks for your website is vital to attaining top rankings on Google.

Besides, distributing high-quality content will help you build a credible brand image, spread the word about your startup, and get you more site traffic and leads. In fact, for most websites, Google search is a major source of traffic. Thus, content marketing is imperative to your startup’s long-term success.

Over to you

Establishing a solid online presence is tough, but follow the above-mentioned steps and your startup will be well on its way to becoming a reputable online authority with a steady stream of inbound clients.

Sure, in terms of content creation and promotion, it’ll take a few months of consistent hard work before you see any tangible results. But in the long haul, the results will be so well worth it.

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