A few months ago, I got carried away and posted what seemed like a typical business question on Facebook:
“I have an important question:
When is it appropriate to say, “Hey, it was nice to meet you at that conference and I enjoyed your presentation. But when I visited your business website (or Facebook page, or blog) to find out more about you… well, it’s a bit outdated or non-existent. What’s the scoop?”
I wonder, do these people have any idea how much business they might be missing out on because their info is so outdated? It’s as if they fell off the face of the planet or something.
I know; we’re all busy and there’s always the possibility of illness, but don’t leave me hanging, wondering what has happened to you, especially if you’ve made a huge point of trying to sell me something.
Even a simple note would be great. Maybe something like, “Whoa, we got busy with our lives and forgot to blog.”
Or, “Grandma was in the hospital for 18 days straight and all we did was taxi Grandpa back and forth to the hospital (100 miles each way).”
Or, “Our website lost its webmaster, graphic designer, and social media talent to Google. We are working on an updated website – we hope to see you soon.”
When do you have this conversation with someone who has not updated at least one form of communication and yet, is still out there at speaking at events? I’d love to hear your opinion!”
I was overwhelmed by the responses I received. The majority said they thought it would be appropriate to let the person know something.
“I’d love to recommend you as a speaker, but I’m concerned that your website (or blog, or social media presence) doesn’t seem to be updated. Is everything okay?”
I was also surprised by the private messages I received from people who thought I could be talking about them.
Several people messaged personal details about why they hadn’t updated their website, Facebook page, or blog. It boiled down to life changes. They told me that things weren’t good right now and they didn’t know what to say, so they thought saying nothing was better.
Two people messaged that they were struggling to get a good website designer or someone reliable to post social media or blog updates for them, as their speaking schedule was super-busy.
At the time I wrote my Facebook rant, I was writing as a potential customer. But a part of me was saying to myself as a new business owner:
“Seriously, Deena, you haven’t even finished your own website. Your blog is non-existent. Mind your own business; you’re not doing it very well, either!”
However, here’s the difference: My Facebook business page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and website include basic and current information about how to reach me.
Tips from a consumer perspective
Here are a few thoughts from the consumer side of the aisle:
- An official update is better for a potential customer to read than to find nothing at all.
- I don’t need your whole story, just a brief note that tells me that you know your website, etc. needs a bit of work.
- As a speaker, writer, seminar guest, etc. your job depends on future contact. Don’t make me search for your information on multiple platforms in an attempt to find you so we can maybe do business together.
Tips from a business owner perspective
- As business owners, we can’t do it all, whether it’s updating our website, social media, email and/or blog posts. But we can strive to do one thing well. If you’re creating a website, make it the best it can be. That may require daily or weekly updates. Do them. If it’s a Facebook business page, make it inviting and interactive. And be sure to include contact information.
- If you don’t have the time to do what needs to be done for your communications platforms, find someone who has the skills you need, either paid or for trade. As a new business owner, I know that it takes time to do all the writing, photographing, etc. in the first few months of a new business venture. If you don’t build these tasks into your schedule, your lack of communication will limit your audience/customers.
- If you believe there’s a need to “do it all,” there are many tools you can use to help you keep one or more platforms updated. In fact, many of these tools are shared regularly right here on Blogging Bistro. I’m certain Laura Christianson can direct you, if you need help.
Please, don’t leave a potential customer or client hanging, or, as in in my case, searching and searching to confirm that your business even exists.
First impressions are important and lasting
I’d like to think that I give others the benefit of the doubt and forgiveness for lacking in professionalism when it comes to communications output. But at some point, I’ll give up and find someone else to help me with a task I need to get accomplished.
I’d like to clarify that the person I wrote about in my Facebook post has been informed that I was unable to find their website. They were aware that their website needed work and recently updated their website and other communication outlets.
If you’re in the middle of a website update, I believe it is imperative for your future business endeavors to post an update that lets people know you’re working on it.
It can be as simple as:
“Thank you for your interest in XYZ Company. Please excuse our dust while we update our website! For more information please call, email, visit our Facebook page, and check out our Twitter account or LinkedIn profile.”
What do you think?
Have you had a hard time connecting online with someone you’ve met in person?
Have you visited the website of a business professional and gasped in shock at how awful it is?
What did you do about it?
About our guest columnist
Deena Elliott is a long-time champion of community resources and women in business. She loves meeting new people, networking and social media. Along with her husband, Joe (pictured with her), Deena uses her time, talent, voice, enthusiasm, and resources in compassionate and passionate ways to help others.
Deena recently began her own business, Deena Elliott Design with Uppercase Living as an Independent Demonstrator. It’s inspirational and whimsical home decor vinyl design for your walls or nearly any surface, including office, school, church, arts, crafts and more.
She holds a BA degree in Industrial Arts from San Francisco State University. In her spare time, she loves to paint, write, read, quilt, crochet, and create mixed-media art.
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