What if you have zero presence on the Internet - no Facebook Page, no Instagram Account, no Yelp account, nothing on TripAdvisor? Could you still run a business in these modern times with absolutely no Internet account. Yes.
I actually work with a business that is thriving without any Internet presence. It’s a retail operation that literally owns no internet presence whatsoever. It’s in a competitive business where the competition is all very tech savvy and everybody is all over their internet presence in just about every place you’d expect to find a business. Everybody but them, that is.
So what’s the secret of the business with no internet presence? Really, really great customer service. Some of the customers come in and hug the employees. Many of the employees know the customers by name - and vice versa. There are jokes being told, people ask about each others families and you feel like you’re with old friends when you go in there if you’ve been more than once.
The funny thing was that they came to me because they tried “the Internet” and it was a total flop. So they just deleted all the accounts and kept on keeping on. Why change something if it already works?
The reason they “tried" the Internet is that they got a lousy Yelp review due to a customer who wasn't used to they way they did things. So they complained. And it really, really bothered all the people who worked there as well. That’s how they found me. A friend of a friend type of thing - someone ratted me out.
This is the thing with these modern times. Even if you're not on the Internet, or think you aren’t, there’s a presence there. Some do-gooder will update Google and you’ll be “found” there. Another person will attempt to check in on Yelp or Facebook and that’s where it starts. Once you’re there, you’re on the Internet.
Unfortunately these people, whose business continues to thrive, treated their business presence differently than they did their own regular customers. On their Facebook page the only thing you’d find was sales and discounts and specials. The place itself is a beautiful, homey, and friendly atmosphere and nobody cares about specials, per se. They go in because the things they regularly sell are a great value and high quality and delivered with exceptional service.
So the Internet presence they tried was a total different experience and didn’t portray what they were like in the real world. Yep. They were firehosing!
While we might be stuck with this whole Internet thing, which is alright by me since I have a job that’s related to it, whatever your “face” is on the Internet should be similar to your reality in the world.
So we did get them an Internet presence. And not because they need more customers, but because they will get someone to put a page or presence up for them and the one they own should really be like how they run their business.
On their Page are things like customer successes, family updates, pictures from the neighborhood, new grandchildren, all the things that make their physical business so special.
What’s not on there are discounts, specials, slick photos, cheesy messaging, or anything else. If you know this business their social presence is just like their real presence now. And people are responding like crazy. They’re sharing their own pictures and success stories and family updates.
They’ve found former customers who have moved out of the area and who have shared what’s going on with them. And the owners and the staff actually are enjoying the social presence they’ve now built. They’re having fun just like they do in the real world. It’s no longer a chore to update their social media.
And that’s how it should be. Not frustrating. Not something have to do. Instead, grab your phone here and there and have a conversation with the people who help your business survive. That could really be the difference between hating “the Internet” and actually having a successful presence.
Now, again, the whole idea is a pre-emptive strike against people who feel compelled to create a presence for you to “help.” But this is the best example of how to do things that I can imagine.
If your business is Hawaiian shirts and shorts, that should be reflected in your Internet presence. We’ll leave the boring blue suit and tie presence to IBM. This should be fun or we’re not doing it right. Right? And, yes, they can survive without the Internet just fine until the Internet comes to them by way of someone trying to “help.” Fortunately, though, I’m happy I was there to really help.