As a tech entrepreneur with a growing business, you want the right people to hear your message. Promotional efforts tend to focus on working with the press and PR companies, to feed your story to relevant publications.
However, you must think beyond that. When someone hears about what you do and wants to find out more, where do they go? If they decide to get in touch via email, how will your response look?
In my years working as a journalist, technologist, and in a previous life as a Web designer/consultant, I’ve seen the same errors crop up time and time again regarding online presence: too many newcomers have online identities that make them look like amateurs. Much of this boils down to improper Web presence management, such as registering irrelevant domain names or simply failing to use them effectively as a base for communications and online marketing activity.
Startup Web Presence Management Basics
1. Establish your startup's online identity
It’s important to understand that a domain name is your online identity. It’s what someone can type into a browser address bar to access information about what you do; it’s the address that stays in said address bar all the time they’re reading about you. Companies that get this important Web presence management detail wrong look unprofessional.
Any website for a serious concern should never, say, be parked on a semi-random address that comes free with a building package. And although you should have a social media presence, that shouldn’t be your entire Web presence. If someone asks for your web address, and you respond solely with something involving Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or similar, you’re doing it wrong.
Similarly, when it comes to email, I’ve seen many companies use Gmail or Outlook when dealing with their Web presence. This looks amateurish, but also means every email they send goes out using the branding of a corporate giant. This is a missed opportunity to get their brand in front of someone, even if just as part of an email address. (Every little bit of branding adds up when it comes to proper Web presence management.)
2. Own and control your original content
I’ve already mentioned social media presence. What you must remember with such services is you’re playing in someone else’s sandpit. The same is true with the likes of Medium, which many tech entrepreneurs use in the hope their blog posts will go viral.
Again, keep using these outlets, they’re great for building a Web presence, but it’s also important to ensure you own your own content, your own online identity, and the space where these things exist. So if you post on Medium, also post that content to your own website. If you bash out some amazing advice on LinkedIn, also place it on your own site.
A social media account can be removed in an instant – in error, deliberately, or maliciously. By using your own domain as your default hub for Web presence management – a home for all your various efforts – such issues are much less likely to occur.
3. Strengthen your Web presence with multiple domain names
Another easily made Web presence management error is not recognizing the benefits of owning multiple domain names. You may have one for your organization – and that’s smart. But what about you, personally? As a tech entrepreneur, aren’t you also a ‘brand’, in addition to the product you are selling? If so, you also need a domain, to act as a hub for you, with its own email address.
Go wider, and do the same for individual projects and ideas, if you consider them important. We see this often in the technology sector – new hardware, games, and services will have their own unique domains, rather than sitting under the website addresses of parent companies.
This also affords flexibility. Should brands separate, individual domains live on. Or if you leave a company you founded, having your own domain and site means you’d not ‘lose’ your entire online presence. Your own domain continues as before, rather than having to rebuild your Web presence from scratch because all of it was integrated into the organization you started.
How to choose domain names for your startup
Proper Web presence management requires you to do your homework when deciding on domain names. Some suffixes have legal restrictions in terms of usage or location – for example, .eu domains must be owned by an entity whose principal place of business is within the EU.
If you find a domain you like, check other suffixes. If any are untoward, scrap the name and look for another. You don’t want to register and use a domain, only to find the .co version is a porn site. In vaguely similar territory, don’t embarrass yourself by not thinking through what happens when innocent words are combined into a single string – advice Pen Island dot net and many others would have done well to take.
Keep your domain names simple
From a practical standpoint, keep things simple. Don’t use hyphens and numbers within domains, unless the latter are part of the brand. Ideally, register a domain that’s your own name, or that of your organization or brand. If that isn’t available, consider if you can add a single relevant word without negatively impacting on the brand, or if a slogan or memorable phrase might work instead. For example, the site of a band I work with is named after their iconic first album, because the band’s name in domain form was already owned by someone – who wanted $25,000 for it.
Grab a Domain Name and Start Managing Your Web Presence, Now
However you approach domain names for Web presence management, be mindful many are snapped up every second; the longer you wait, the less chance you’ll have of getting the names you want and need.
Given how cheap domains and hosting are, it’s worth snapping ones up you’ll be able to use in the future. Especially for websites based on your own name, it costs very little to get someone to work up a basic holding page – a kind of online business card – and link that to your social media feeds.
Most of all, though, avoid doing nothing. These days, you need every edge to make yourself stand out, and cannot afford to appear inferior to rivals. And you’re not likely to win business by directing interested parties to a page buried deep within Facebook, or responding to potential investors by using an email address, like, johnsmith1981rockstheworld @ gmail.com.