Business operations

How to build an online presence

For most businesses, having some kind of online presence (even a small one) is a must – this is how customers will find you, learn about you, and connect with you. Read our tips to get started.

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Why an online presence is important

Building an online presence is increasingly important, even if you’re not planning (or ready) to dive into the world of e-commerce. Almost everyone is connected via the internet in some form, and internet searches are the dominant way most of us find out about anything. After all, even Siri uses Google. 

It’s the same for your customers. It’s highly likely they’ll either find you online, or at least use the internet to check or research your business (and you). 

We cover three basic ways you can begin to build your online presence.

Step 1. Get a Google Business Profile

Ensure your business information is available on Google search so your business can be found. This gives your customers the right information at the right time, whether they need directions to your business, opening hours (including public holidays), or a phone number. They can also click to call you on their smartphones.

Your customers will usually head to Google for the most accurate and reliable information, so it’s important to keep your information up to date, e.g. if your opening hours change.

Step 2. Get comfortable with social media

Social media is an established and evolving form of keeping in touch, building a community, and showcasing your brand. Used with care, it can be a great way to reach not just your customers and potential customers, but their family, friends, and friends-of-friends too (and on it goes).

Social media has huge untapped potential, but it can also be hugely time consuming. 

To avoid being overwhelmed, the key is to select channels that make sense for your audience and business objectives. You might choose one (or a mix) of the following channels.


Facebook is still the world’s most dominant social media platform.

As well as helping you to create and grow a community of followers for your business, creating a Facebook page helps boost your chances of being found. More advanced users can market and advertise their business using Facebook for Business.

X (formerly known as Twitter)

A communication platform connecting businesses to customers and people interested in their products and services. X is less about selling product and more about broadcasting bite-sized opinions and news that could help build your brand.


Engaging visual content (especially short-form video) is central to the Instagram experience. Relevant hashtags make content more discoverable. Like Facebook, Instagram has paid promotion (ads) functionality. 


No longer the sole territory of Gen Z, TikTok has become a giant of social media with more than one billion active users every month.

With an emphasis on unique and engaging content, many brands are beginning to understand how TikTok can help reach new audiences by showing a different side to their brand – one that’s a little more raw and relatable. 


Best thought of as a giant networking conference, LinkedIn is a great way of exchanging information, ideas, and opportunities with partners and clients alike.

Being on LinkedIn will also help boost your business’ profile in online search engines.

Other platforms

Video platforms such as YouTube, and messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, could also be valuable ways of communicating with customers, advertising your product, or expressing your brand. 

What your particular social media mix should look like depends on your:

  • Business
  • Audience
  • Objectives.

Step 3. Build an effective website

Even the smallest business benefits from the exposure an effective website brings. Although it’s true every business doesn’t need a website, and you might be able to get away with a Facebook or Google Business Profile, most people expect a business to have a basic website to view.

Having a website means you can:

  • Enhance your business’ credibility, as you can showcase examples and past clients
  • Project an up-to-date image
  • Provide better customer service by giving you the ability to respond fast
  • Enable customers to learn and review your business message and marketing material 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The good news is you don’t need to spend thousands on a good quality website. You don’t have to be a web developer, either.

You can start with something simple, such as WordPress – a free and open-source tool which started out as a blogging platform, and has since expanded to websites, online forums, and even online stores. WordPress has a treasure trove of templates and themes to choose from, as well as tips and tutorials to help you get started.

Learn as you go

Don’t know a ‘stitch’ from a ‘story’? Don’t worry, you don’t need to understand every little detail to start building your online presence.

Get to know the different social media platforms and decide on the one that will best suit your business objectives. You can always add more as you get more confident.

At a minimum, you should make sure you have a Google Business Profile with your business name and contact information so you can be found and contacted. It’s also a good idea to ‘reserve’ an account on each of the major social media platforms, so that your business’ name can’t be taken.

Digital Boost

Digital Boost is a New Zealand government initiative supporting Kiwi businesses with information about getting online and succeeding in a digital age. 

Digitising your business

There are many digital tools out there that can help run your business more efficiently, from accounting software to an online presence, this video looks at a few of the options.

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