Your digital presence – why it’s important to nurture it

By Steven Saltmarsh

When we talk about digital presence, we’re talking about your footprint on the internet. It is the mark that your business or organisation has left, whether that be on Facebook, in Google searches, or even just general brand awareness of your product or service across the net.

Whilst it has always been important, it’s even more important now, critically in fact.

The reasons behind this are numerous, but it is ultimately because more and more of us are engaged in our internet usage. We now reflect online shopping and business enquiry trends that were seen overseas but not necessarily here on our shores initially, and overall, we are as a country becoming more net savvy.

Basically, because as individuals we’re now more in tune with the net, and our usage of it is becoming more sophisticated, your website, social media profile, and your overall digital presence needs to be following suit. In this article, we’ll briefly touch on how we came to this point, the greater opportunity that comes with having a good digital presence, plus a few tips and tricks from our digital gurus on little things that the average business owner can do to keep the momentum of their online presence going on the right track.

So what changed to make it important now?

t’s important to note that, as a nation, our internet patterns have matured and evolved. However, and critically for the Tasmanian business community, it is locally that has seen the greatest gain.

Over the last three census gatherings, Tasmania has frequently added to its total of households with an internet connection, with the last census recording a jump in this number by 6%. Per state, this is only below the Northern Territory on 22%, and way ahead of the more populated states in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.

Household Trend with Internet

What that means, essentially, is that Tasmania’s digital world is growing, and it’s growing fast. So much so that, if the numbers continue, the percentage of Tasmanians that do have some form of an internet connection will be well over 80% by the time the next census comes about – above the national average.

Basically, it’s get on the boat or start learning how to swim on your own.

Businesses, however, shouldn’t be afraid about exploring this brave new digital world. In fact, it is the perfect time to embrace what will quickly become Tassie’s prime advertising space in the not too distant future, if it isn’t already.

The digital opportunity

The digital opportunity here in Tasmania is huge, largely untapped, and is waiting there to be seized. The reasons for this are numerous, but for now let’s focus on the two majors; geographical, and community.

First off, Tasmania’s geography. Now whilst it may seem odd to use something physical as a positive for an otherwise virtual realm, it is perhaps the most important reason why your digital presence needs to be in top shape.

As Tasmania is uniquely located on its very own island, there is less competition from other states in the country. This means that Tasmanians as a whole are unlikely to look interstate for products or services, and would much rather stick local.

This is something that cannot be said for many places across Australia, where businesses are frequently launching barbs over state lines trying to get a foothold in each other’s respective commercial ground.

Having such a digital presence to tap into the “think local, shop local” mentality is critical, not just for tapping into the potential customer and client numbers, but also to establish yourself as being a local producer, a local supplier, or a local adviser.

Secondly, let’s look at the community aspect, which is really diving into the micro factors that drive the geographical reasons.

Unlike other states, where its populations are much more concentrated in their capital cities, Tasmanian businesses are in a unique position to really carve out their own digital real estate supported by a strong local following.

Our population hubs abound right across the state, from the Huon Valley in the South, to Burnie and Devonport straddling the Northern coastline. Each of these areas have created mini business centres within themselves, and having a strong digital backing behind your business can allow it to really take the lions share of this crowd.

From regional tourism hotspots, to simple brick-and-mortar stores cornering their local audience all for themselves, the potential for extra customers and clients coming from a good digital presence is huge on the micro community front.

Capturing that potential, however, is the stumbling block, especially in the hyper competitive market that is the digital advertising world.

There are three non-negotiables, however, in making sure that your digital presence is healthy, vibrant, and attracting the crowd that you need to thrive. What are they, you ask?

Keeping your website up to scratch

Your website is the bread and butter of your digital presence. So it goes without saying that not only does it have to be in good shape, it also has to be nurtured and grown over time. Neglected websites are obvious to spot, and your audience will simply go somewhere else that is cleaner and more attractive – more often than not your direct competitors.

If you have a blog, make the most of it and keep your audience updated on your thoughts and musings on what you know best – your business and the industry it resides in. Make sure your pages are clean, written well, and address any points that you want to really hammer home in selling what you do.

Also, if your business trades off of its visual image, such as a bar or a restaurant, make sure that your website has plenty of photos. A website is a great platform for such businesses, as it allows them to really sell what makes them unique and special, the physical space that they offer.

Get active on social media

This one might seem like a no brainer, given that social media has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds for quite some time now, but you would be surprised how many businesses are still neglecting this powerful tool at their disposal.

Social media is a chance for you to connect with people in a way that an advertisement on TV or in a newspaper cannot. It allows you to directly speak to them, share with them, and basically keep them updated on the latest activities and goings on around you and your business.

Social media is ideal for talking about what makes your business unique, and you really should treat it as an extension of the unique character that is part of your selling point.

What’s more, those already on social media love new stuff coming through, so chances are there’s an audience sitting out there that is waiting for you to fill the void.

Keep it going!

By far the biggest problem around digital efforts is that, for many, it is a once-off.

Granted, time can get in the way, and there are so many other factors behind running a business. However, you wouldn’t neglect your storefront if the paint was peeling off, and neither should you neglect your digital presence.

The most successful digital ventures are those that have kept it going. Going viral once is great, but if it isn’t followed up with a concerted effort to maintain the rage, then those people you attracted the first time are simply going to drop off.

It pays to keep your digital presence going, and in the long run, you’ll be well ahead of the rest of the pack if you continue to devote some time and attention to making the most out of your website and social media profile.