Having a digital presence simply means that you occupy space online – simply put. 10 years ago this meant having your own company website. If you had one, you were probably quite content that your company was keeping up with the advances into digital. Perhaps you even considered your company to be ‘digitally savvy’. Today, you have social media, mobile, and all forms of online advertising to consider when it comes to creating a digital presence for your brand- and it encompasses so much more than just a website.
With the constant and rapid advancement of technology in all industries, online has begun to play an increasingly larger role in business, and it is vital that companies look at their current digital presence, and adapt it to best suit where their company is going, and how to optimally engage with their target market. Consumers now have many digital channels available to them at any given moment, which means that there are a lot more avenues and opportunities than ever before for brands to engage with consumers and build upon relationships and brand loyalty. And the reality is, even if you don’t have an official digital brand presence, your brand is being talked about online. Whether it’s positive or negative, any brand mention in a digital space means that you have a presence there. When you consider that fact, it’s hard to argue that your business doesn’t need to engage online.
Your customers and clients want access to information about your business offering when they need it, and they’re accessing it via a range of different devices. Businesses now not only need to think about making themselves available digitally, but they also need to consider how their brand is presented to the ‘always-connected’ consumer who is accessing information from desktops, smartphones and tablets – on the move, instantaneously.
It’s becoming increasingly imperative to respond to this ‘hyper-connectivity’, or risk losing relevancy to more digitally savvy competitors. The important word to note here, however, is relevancy. Relevancy is key in two ways; brands need to stay relevant to their target market by building a digital presence, and they also need to ensure that the channels they live on are relevant to the brand. As we’ve shifted away from mass markets and communication, and move towards more interconnected customer networks, just having a website isn’t enough anymore. Customers expect real-time interaction with brands, and businesses need to capitalise on the engagement that the variety of digital touch points provide. But this does not mean that your brand should exist on every digital channel available just for the sake of having a presence online.
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, WordPress- does your brand need to show face on all of these platforms to have a digital presence? The simple answer is “no”. The slightly more complex answer is “not necessarily”. Where your target market or clients are, should guide your digital presence. If they’re on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and WordPress, then that is where your brand should be; but setting up an account on every channel just for the sake of ‘being digital’ can also make managing your online presence difficult. If being online has become engagement focused, then remember that you’ll have to focus on creating engagement opportunities with your target audience on the platforms you have a presence on- whether it’s two or twenty.
Social networks contribute three of the ten most visited websites in the world (according to online analytics company, Alexa), which again highlights my point of engagement and the two-way nature of digital these days. However, this does not mean that online, business has just become about ‘hashtagging’ or punting your brand in 140 characters. At the end of the day, the reason you do business is to generate revenue. Your digital presence should do this for you. In fact, one of our larger clients at Flume (who operates within the financial services sector) only uses digital advertising to market themselves because they’ve seen the return on investment it provides. Their digital presence and correct management of it brings business to their business – which is important to the bottom line.
Defining digital presence is relatively easy and I hope I’ve conveyed my point on that. My second point, and an important one at that, focuses on the point that you should be in control of your digital presence. If your brand has a digital footprint whether you like it or not, then surely you’d want to manage any conversation that surrounds your brand online and nurture those customer relationships? Regardless of industry, your digital presence has a lot to offer your business- so understand it, embrace it, and make it work for you.
– Michèle Warbreck, Account Manager at Flume
The original article can be found in the March 2015 issue of COVER.