There’s no better way to grow a business than going online. The digital world opens your business to the world, making your brand more visible and allowing online transactions. However, the digital world is also home to unscrupulous individuals waiting for the chance to bring any individual or brand down.
Create a Digital Presence
Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are great places to connect with potential customers or clients. Most social networking sites are free, but some will offer options to increase visibility or targeted promotions. Individual entrepreneurs and smaller businesses can usually get by with just social media. Various messenger programs and apps allow them to communicate with clients, although transactions are indirect in nature. Larger businesses and corporations will have their own websites.
Acquiring a website or particular domain is fairly easy. A domain name typically costs $20 a year. However, designing your website can cost $500 to $5,000, depending on complexity and features. A dedicated website allows potential customers or clients to see your brand as you want them to without the trappings of a social media platform. You get to control every element and content of the website, and you are free of ads that may even come from competitors.
Open Avenues of Transaction
Digital transactions are slowly becoming the primary avenue for buying and selling non-essential goods. Why go to a store and wait in line only to find out that the item you want is not in stock? With a dedicated website, your business can open an online store without steep overheads or personnel. Almost everything is automated; you’ll only need to choose what items go in and at what prices. By integrating e-commerce platforms into your site, you can hold direct transactions with online buyers. Platforms like Shopify, 3dcart, Ecwid, Magento, and Volusion can be accessed for less than $20 a month, although you can pay higher premiums if you want to expand your store to hold more items or open more features.
In 2019, global online sales reached a high of 4.7 trillion. 11 percent of the total sales in the US were online, with Amazon bringing in close to $55 billion by itself. Opening an online store is less expensive and more cost-effective than opening a second physical store or branch. It has none of the location-based limitations of physical stores, allowing anyone with an internet connection to make transactions from anywhere in the world.
Air Your Advocacy
Social media is inherently political. Most companies will support certain causes to appease the crowd and not seem like fence-sitters. Supporting the right cause can also attract a significant following that can eventually lead to interactions or actual transactions. Caring for the environment is fairly safe advocacy. It has little to no detractors, and the cause is apolitical. Donations to charities are largely tax-deductible, so supporting a few groups pushing for actual change shouldn’t cost you money. Buzz on your advocacy can attract like-minded individuals into buying or doing business with your company.
Be Wary of Cancel Culture
Say the wrong thing or promote the wrong product, and you can have hordes of angry individuals bashing your company to no end. Urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles are susceptible, forcing corporations and large companies to rely on public relations agencies to ensure all their material or promotions won’t offend particular groups.
Cancel culture has evolved to absurd levels, to the point that math (or saying 1+1=2) is considered offensive in some cases. It targets small and vulnerable businesses but even larger brands like Domino’s and Goya. Stable businesses are largely unaffected. Apple has been criticized for having underage and underpaid workers overseas, but the protests and calls for boycotts largely fall on deaf ears.
But Don’t Pander to the Mob
Avoiding cancel culture by pandering to the mob can also have detrimental effects. Abiding by the internet mob’s wishes, particularly if it affects your products or business, can create pushback from even your most loyal patrons. PepsiCo buckled down and changed its branding of Aunt Jemima, eventually leading to its complete shutdown. Marvel and DC comics have tried appeasing their loudest detractors on Twitter by changing storylines and characters, alienating their usual base to pander to people who don’t buy their products.
The digital world offers a wealth of opportunities to expand your business. However, it also contains a hidden undercurrent that can drag it down. Monitor your content to make sure it adheres to stricter guidelines or hire professionals to steer your brand’s image in the potentially tumultuous waters of the Internet.