Freshen up your online presence for the New Year

Make sure your social media profiles are up to date for 2016.

Make sure your social media profiles are up to date for 2016.

The time to ring out the old and bring in the new is only a month away, so here are ideas for updating your website and social media to help your small business hit the ground running in 2016.

‘Tis the season to:

1. Update your information. If your personal or company description says “in business for X number of years, time to update that. Are your phone numbers and email addresses still current? And, if you’ve got a long bio, it’s time to add some recent accomplishments, and edit out some of the older ones. Your website should always be ongoing and up to date. Your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles should be refreshed annually.

It’s tough to edit accomplishments, but highlight the ones that are most relevant to your business today. And, speaking of updates, update your language. Something may have been “groovy” a decade ago, but face it, “groovy” is a flavor of yesteryear. “Advancement” is the current description for those who work in what was called “fundraising” and “development” a decade ago. Yesterday, we “positioned” our business; today, we “brand” it.

2. Refresh your photo. If you don’t have a photo, and you do see social media profiles without them, you’re missing the prime opportunity to market yourself. Profiles without photos are suspect, and it’s very easy to get a good photo. Also, if you’re using one from the 1980s, update it. A good photo showcases you without a busy background. You don’t have to be dressed super corporate, but conservative is always best. If you’re a personal trainer, tank top is fine, otherwise men, hide the skin. Women, cover the cleavage. And, although tattoos are fun, they’re not the best image to project in the corporate environment.

I alternate between three photos. One is ten years old, taken by a well-known photographer as my “official photo” when I was working in public radio. It has aged well. Another, one I personally like, is more informal, and a third, taken for work, shows me in an eye patch I wore intermittently between surgeries for a year. It’s a great photo, but now, I don’t like seeing myself in a patch.

3. Clean up your posts. The photos and statements you post have a way of achieving eternal life on the Internet, so if you’ve posted anything pedestrian or risqué, eliminate it because it may haunt you in the future. Case in point: A new executive of an organization “friended” a lot of area achievers, media, and decision-makers on his personal Facebook page. His Facebook feed is an ongoing litany of support for right wing political candidates and comments that will seem offensive to many people in the community who support the organization he works for. People will confuse his personal views for that of the organization’s CEO. He’s doing his workplace a disservice.

You have the right to “free speech,” but small business owners who offend the community lose the business to small business owners who are inclusive. Delete the posts that your customer base might find offensive, and remember to limit your posts about religion, politics, and other hot-button topics, unless they directly impact your product or service.

In my case, I have a personal Facebook page for my personal friends only. I have a business page open to everyone. The business page (Mark G Auerbach Public Relations) touts client accomplishments, industry trends, and my writing for newspapers, blogs, and magazines. On my personal page (open only to my friends), I wax poetic about my pool, the “White Shoe” rule, coffee, and musical theatre.

4. If you need to reprint business cards, letterheads or envelopes with new information, now is the time. For printers, the holiday rush is over, and December and January can be slow months, which means better rates, unless you need a rush job. And, if you pay for the printing this year, it’s tax-deductible now instead of in 2016.

Enjoy the season, and happy New Year.

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Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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