Online assets or real estate is a paramount concern for small business owners -- and for a variety of reasons. Have you ever sought to register a URL for your company website, or perhaps sign up for a corporate e-mail address, only to find that the desired online property has already been claimed? This is frustrating, but there are even more practical concerns in play.
For example, possessing the online real estate that matches your branded terms -- for example, YourCompanyName.com -- is the best way to ensure that, when a consumer searches for your business on the Web, he or she finds your company website. Laying claim to this online real estate is also important for reputation management; a business rival or disgruntled employee could seize one of these digital properties and use it to embarrass you, and the only way to prevent this from happening is to claim these online properties before they are snatched up!
What Are Your Key Online Assets?Domains The first thing your company should consider is buying up online domains. There are some search engine authorities who warn against using too many "exact match" domains -- which might include YourBrand.com, .net, and .org. Even if you do not wish to use each of these domains, it is a good idea to obtain the rights to each one of them, simply to prevent others from using them against you!
Social Media You will want to lay claim to the matching account names for all of the major social media outlets, as well. This includes Facebook and Twitter -- which your company probably uses in its digital marketing endeavors -- but also Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and so on. You may or may not have a real use for these accounts, but again, claiming them prevents them from turning into "phantom" accounts down the road!
Your Executives A final note: In addition to buying the domain names and signing up for the social media accounts associated with your company name, you may wish to do the same for the names of your key executives. This is a good way to protect the online reputation of your business, as the most visible executives are the ones most likely to receive attacks or online complaints. Some companies may even wish to buy up the domain names associated with their branded products; do so if you have a product with a one-of-a-kind, distinct name (i.e., iPhone).
The bottom line is that, for purposes of online reputation management and more general digital marketing, it is vital for small businesses to obtain a solid collection of online properties. Let this checklist be your guide!