Small businesses have many reasons for not having a web presence. Some believe it’s not worthwhile since they don’t utilize e-commerce, others believe that they have a customer clientele that’s not online. Concerns about privacy also abound, and many business owners are put off by the high costs of higher-end services such as hiring bloggers or search engine optimization (SEO) that may not be economical for small businesses. The truth is technology has advanced to the point that average users can set up a website affordably with no programming knowledge. Both the low cost and ease of set up make the case for all businesses to have a bare minimum web presence.
Professional-looking websites can be very cheap nowadays, even free if one allows advertising on a site (though that’s not recommended if one wants a professional appearance). While having a website built ranges from $300-$1,000 plus maintenance fees for just a simple website, hosting companies such as Jimdo, Wix or WordPress allow users to set up a website free of charge with Jimdo charging only $7.50/month for maintenance. All packages have professional-looking, ready-made templates allowing for simple and quick site creation with little computer knowledge. Additionally, these packages include everything one could want for a simple business website – mobile compatibility, inserts for photo galleries or videos, contact forms, blogs, interactive maps, and many other features, including the technical support needed for creating and maintaining the site.
Social media links are also included with these website packages, and these social media pages are also important for a bare minimum web presence. In many cases, customers will look for a social media page before they look for a website. Setting up a business site on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other sites is free and can be maintained with minimal effort. As for which social media sites to utilize, the bare minimum recommended would be having sites on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is recommended because it’s the largest platform, Twitter for its simplicity and reach outside of one’s network, and LinkedIn because it’s the platform of business. While having more likes and follows on a site helps, merely having the site exist is the most important action. The social media sites serve as a low-cost way to periodically remind clients and customers of one’s presence or as an efficient way to relay non-confidential information. Depending on how many social media sites a business chooses to use, many software packages allow users to maintain all sites at once (Facebook and Twitter can also be linked to one another). If one is a minimal user using few sites, a copy and paste of postings to each site will suffice.
With low costs and ease of use, the case for a minimal web presence is self-evident. These sites can serve both as a form of advertising and a way to relay information for a small fraction of what traditional advertising costs. For a few dollars per month and a minimal time commitment, businesses can show that not only are they active, they are also engaged and ready to serve.