3 things to consider about the control you have over your business online branding and information.
Building your brand and maintaining it online is crucial to your business. A well designed and developed website with the right content is key. Creating and maintaining social media accounts for your business is also key.
What is important to remember when maintaining your brand presence online is the things you can control, and the things you cannot control. It is important to understand what ownership you have over anything related to your company and brand. Let's take a look at some key elements.
1. Website. If you worked with a firm or freelancer to develop your company website, do you have a clear understanding of who owns the code as well as who has control of the hosting? We touched on this back in July. With some companies, you lease your website as part of your hosting fees/agreements. If you choose to switch hosts or development firms you loose your website as you know it. With firms like SYDCON, we create your software and/or website to your specifications and once development is completed and paid in full you own it. Also, when it comes to hosting, it is important that someone in-house at your firm has all the correct access and logins to your hosting provider and any servers. If you part ways with a developer and do not have this information your software or website can be held hostage.
2. Facebook. Even though we are in the tech advanced year of 2016, many small businesses believe they do not need a website if they have a Facebook page. Consider this, if Facebook is down or changes their terms of services you may have zero control if your company page is down and when it will be back up. I understand that traditional websites go down as a result of a hosting issue, but you as the website owner have options in those instances. You can contact the host, you can move your website if you so choose.
3. LinkedIn. This is one that I am finding frustrating lately, and really is the sole reason for this blog. If you have a company page on LinkedIn (if you have a business, you probably do) you do not have as much control as you would think. For instance, anyone can state that they work for your company and will be linked to the company page and show up as "Employees on LinkedIn". You as the page administrator and/or business owner have no control or say in whom links themselves to you. At least, no control without jumping through legal hoops. We have experienced individuals overseas posing as employees. These individuals have "private profiles" which would require me to request a connection with to even email or view the entire profile. Or perhaps you have past employees still showing up as current, months and years later. Some may have left on good terms, some not so much. LinkedIn requires you email the individual asking them to update their profile or complete a "Notice of False Profile form". Please note that filling out such form comes with a warning of perjury and requires documentation. Really, anyone can say they work for any company in the world and be linked to a company page without verification or authorization. For a platform that is used for networking, recruiting and job hunting it makes it far too easy for someone to give a false impression.
It is important to consider these things as a business owner concerned about their branding but it is also an important factor to consider when doing research on potential firms to work with. For instance, when we have new potential clients inquiring about SYDCON, and they ask about our staff size and location we always answer truthfully. However, if that potential client does any online research about us it is possible for the LinkedIn company page to reflect something completely different. We have had discrepancies ranging from a larger staff to overseas staff. For some of our clients and potential clients, staff location is key and they may have specific requirements that our entire staff is in the US.
For the reasons mentioned above, it is key that the information contained on your website be kept up to date at all times. If you own the code and your website and have control of the hosting you can control the information about your company as well as the message you are sending. If a third party site has inaccurate information on your firm and potential client questions you, you can explain that you have little control over some of the content on other sites other than your own. Bottom line, do your best to monitor your company online as well as always keep your content up to date.