It was not so many years ago that businesses were constantly being told that in order to survive, let alone prosper, it was essential for them to have an online presence in the form of a website. Today, almost all enterprises are online, and even start-ups make publishing a website one of their top priorities.
The internet has transformed the way companies do business. Some companies are entirely online, operating out of home offices or with premises located out of town to take advantage of lower rents and rates, while others have established mega-warehouses from which goods are dispatched all around the world. Websites have made it possible for even one-person businesses to reach a global audience and for individuals to stay in touch with friends and family, whether they live in the next street or on the other side of the globe.
So you may be thinking everything is fine, the company website looks great, it’s updated every week with new products and sales campaigns, what more is there to say? Unfortunately, there is quite a lot to say, because the days of the company website may be numbered, overtaken by those twin upstart new kids on the block, social media and mobile devices. In fairness, you may be wondering what social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have to do with the future wellbeing of your company, but the answer is actually quite a lot.
In the beginning, social media was exactly that, individual friends and family chatting to one another and exchanging photos and video clips. But with the growth of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs, all that has changed. It seems the whole world now communicates via these devices. As many consumers now order goods and services using mobile devices, they expect the convenience of being able to order, check delivery dates and contact the supplier instantly, in real-time, wherever they may be.
What’s more, consumers want to know something about the company they are purchasing products and services from. They want to see and communicate with the company’s management and feel special by being offered personalised discounts and invitations to in-store events. They want to know if raw materials are ethically sourced, if workers in developing nations are being paid a decent wage. In short, they expect to be involved, have their voices heard and noticed. If your company fails to respond, you can expect to see your customer base, turnover and profits begin to rapidly dwindle away as your competitors embrace these new developments.
Fortunately, designing and developing a mobile app for your business is not hugely expensive; there are dozens of companies that will do the job for you and then maintain and update it in much the same way as your existing website. In addition, it is also well worth setting up a YouTube presence; this is a great way to involve consumers by posting ‘how to’ video clips or images of new products and services. Add the clips to your Facebook or Pinterest page and wait for a response; you won’t have to wait for long. A good example of the uses a YouTube page can be put to is provided by the videos from Mukesh Valabhji, a Seychelles based entrepreneur who uses clips to promote his various companies.
To get some idea of what is possible by maintaining a presence on social media and mobile communications devices, simply take a look at the apps belonging to companies in sectors as diverse as retailing, high street banks, theatres and cinemas, and even the government.