We asked a number of experts (unfortunately Ryan Gosling was not available) what they thought were the essential things every new start-up must do to establish a Web presence. Here's the digital to-do list they came up with:
1. Register the domain.
If you have a web site, you should seriously consider registering your own domain name. A domain name is a name like “projecteve.com” or “imtoosexyformyshoes.com” (I think Becca Smith might want to claim this domain), which you can use to refer to your website. Note that you do not have to be a company or organization to register a domain name. Any individual can do it too. GoDaddy offers domain names starting as low as $5.95/year. Hurry, Someone might swoop in and steal the perfect dotcom. Just about every expert listed this first, knowing the domain is one of the easiest things to do, but also the one that can get you into a bind if you don't get the one you want.
2. Create your LinkedIn company page. Seriously.
Grow up. You have to do this even if you HATE Linkedin. If you are still not convinced I urge you to read Lib Aubuchon‘s brilliant essay LinkedIn Can Suck It and Here’s Why. A Company Page helps LinkedIn members learn about your business, brand, products and services, and job opportunities. Any LinkedIn member can follow a company page. To get started, just go to www.linkedin.com/companies. Or just click on the Companies menu link.
Add your Company Name and your company e-mail address. You will need to have an official company e-mail address (no gmail here, people!) to get started. Once your Company Page is created, you can always go into the Page and Edit it.
3. Get your Google on.
It's critical to start using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools right away. These tools form the foundation of online marketing. Look – I clicked around and set this up MYSELF. As many of you know I don't consider myself a technical savant. I watched a ton of Youtube videos and jumped off the proverbial cliff. I am fairly certain that if I can do it, you can do it. It's free. You can analyze your new domain for traffic, SEO, bounce rates (how long someone sticks around), and much more.
4. Claim your Google+ business page.
Speaking of Google, you'll also want to create a Google+ business page. At first I found Google+ to be a bit of an enigma. In fact, I asked Caimon Jones aka “Genius Startups” to write the article Why You Need To Like Google+ (Even If You Hate It) because I really didn't get it . You'll get exposure on this more technically minded social network, but more importantly your customers will see a well-organized summary of your company (one you control) at the top of search results.
5. Embrace social networking.
Truth be told I had no idea what twitter was last January. Now, Project Eve has almost 120,000 followers. At its core, Twitter is a public
forum where anyone can read, write and share messages. Twitter is made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. You can do a lot with 140 characters like include videos and photos. It’s an easy way to bring you closer to the people and topics you care about. This gives you powerful context to connect directly with present and future customers in real time. For a new business, experts say LinkedIn is critical (it connects you with other businesses) and Google+ helps with search engine optimization. Establish your company on Facebook and Twitter. It's easy and its free.
6. Start using MailChimp.
Most experts specifically called out MailChimp, the e-newsletter and mass email distribution service, as a critical step. MailChimp is a great way to manage contacts and keeps your company compliant with spam laws. You'll also start out with a professional image for email blasts and can track the success of these campaigns.
7. Start blogging.
An extra step that could help with marketing? Yes, but early on it serves other useful purposes. Project Eve's own Anna Colibri says blogging is critical for search engine optimization and generating buzz. You claim your authority on a topic and add credibility to your presence on the Web. But the best reason is to create links back to that domain you registered.
8. Choose a cloud storage provider.
This is a tough one, because there are so many options. Dropbox, Google Cloud Storage, and Carbonite are good options. One of the key benefits to a cloud storage service, other than the easy remote access, is low-cost disaster recovery.
9. Choose your SEO keywords.
Early on, you'll want to start thinking about SEO keywords–the search terms people will use to find your new business. You'll add these to your site when you get one developed, and you might use them if you start buying Google ads.
10. Create a back-up system.
Even if you do most of your business online or use cloud services, you'll probably end up with some local files storage. Most of the experts said a back-up system–even if it is a simple USB thumbdrive or an external disk connected to your mac–is critical as a first step. I also like the Pogoplug for cloud back-ups.
11. Create a way to accept payments.
Oh, and one last technical step: People will need a way to pay you. You can sign up for a service like PayPal.com or use one of those nifty iPad credit card scanners like Square. Make sure whatever service you use fits in with your overall gameplan for tech.
Images (and many chuckles) courtesy of: http://siliconvalleyryangosling.tumblr.com/