How to create a strong online presence for your SME

How to create a strong online presence for your SME

Gone are the days of turning through the yellow pages to find a business in your area. Today as a small business owner in South Africa,it’s all about your online presence and making sure you reach your customers where and when they need you most. Google and the good ol’ interweb have become the primary source of information for many people, and having a strong online presence can help you stand out from your competitors and attract new customers. However, building a robust online presence can seem daunting,especially if you're not familiar with all things digital. In this SME guide,we'll take you through the steps to create a strong online presence, from creating a professional website to engaging with your audience on social media.So, grab a cup of coffee, and let's get started on taking your business to the next level in the digital world!

First off, and this is a bonus one. You need to think about your target audience, before we give you our 5 tips on creating a better online presence as a South African SME.  Here are 3 questions you need to answer about your target audience before you start building out an online brand presence.

Who is your target audience?

Understanding your target audience is crucial for creating a successful online brand presence. Consider the demographics of your audience, such as age, gender, location, and occupation. Additionally, think about their interests, behaviours, and needs. For example, if you're a clothing retailer targeting young adults in urban areas, your online presence should betrendy, visually appealing, and cater to their fashion preferences.

Where does your target audience spend their time online?

Identify the online platforms and channels that your target audience frequently uses. Are they active on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok? Do they engage with blogs or online forums related to your industry? Understanding where your audience spends their time online will help you focus your efforts on the most relevant platforms and tailor your content accordingly. You’ll also need to be thinking about what devices your customers are using, are they trying to find out about your business through a mobile phone, laptop or PC. What is there first port of call when finding you, looking for you on social media or doing a Google search.These things will all shape how you build your online brand presence and what the best way forward is.

What are the challenges or pain points of your target audience?

Identifying the challenges or pain points of your target audience will enable you to create content and solutions that address their specific needs. Conduct market research, engage with your audience through surveys or feedback forms, and analyse customer feedback to gain insights into their pain points. For instance, if you're a tech support company targeting small businesses, your online presence should emphasize how your services cansolve their IT challenges and improve their productivity.

By answering these questions, you can develop a deeper understanding of your target audience, allowing you to create a more tailored and effective online brand presence. Now let’s get to the exciting stuff. How can you build an effective online brand presence as an SME in South Africa.  

5 ways to create an effective online brand presence for your SME

1. Create a Website

Yes, we know that the thought of building a website can be very scary. Especially if you don’t have budget right now, but it doesn’t need to be something very complicated and if you don’t have the time and budget to spend on this just have something very basic in place. Your website is the foundation of your online presence. It's where customers can learn about your products or services, contact you, and make purchases. Therefore, investing in a well-designed and user-friendly website is critical. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building your website:

  • Choose a professional design that reflects your brand identity and makes it easy for customers to navigate your site.
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Over 60% of online searches are done on mobile devices, so it's essential that your site looks great and functions well on smartphones and tablets.
  • Make sure your website is optimized for search engines (SEO). This means using relevant keywords in your content and meta tags to help your site rank higher in search results.

There are two routes that you can take here, you can either outsource this to an agency that can build a website for you (just make sure you have a particular budget in mind) or you can build the website yourself using a platform like Wordpress. Hubspot has put together a guide to help you if you get a bit stuck with this process. Just keep in mind that there will be hosting fees, and domain fees.

2. Set Up Social Media Accounts

Social media is a powerful tool for building your online presence. It enables you to connect with your customers, share content, and promote your business. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose the social media platforms that are most relevant to your business and target audience. Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, are popular choices for small businesses in South Africa.
  • Optimize your social media profiles with high-quality images and a compelling description of your business.
  • Post regularly and consistently to keep your followers engaged. You can share information about your products or services, industry news, or behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business.

3. Claim Your Business Listings

Your business listings on Google and other directories can influence how potential customers perceive your business. Therefore, it's essential to claim and manage your listings to ensure they're accurate and up-to-date. Here are some tips:

  • Claim your business listings on Google My Business, and other directories relevant to your industry.
  • Ensure your listings include accurate and consistent information about your business, including your name, address, phone number, and website URL.

Encourage customers to leave reviews on your listings. Positive reviews can help build your credibility and attract new customers. It will also help your business be found on Google more easily, the more reviews the more likely it will appear on Google searches.  

4. Create Valuable Content

Creating valuable content is essential for building your online presence and establishing yourself as an authority in your industry. Whether it’s a post about your employees or helping your clients better understand your products or services. Here are some tips to help you create great content:

  • Focus on providing value to your audience. Your content should educate, inform, or entertain your readers.
  • Use a mix of formats, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts, to keep your content fresh and engaging.
  • Share your content on social media and other platforms to expand your reach and attract new followers.

5. Engage with Your Audience

Engaging with your audience is essential for building strong relationships and creating loyal customers. Your customers don’t want to be spoken to, they want to be understood, heard and catered for. Your online brand presence provides the perfect opportunity to converse with your audience.Here are some tips to help you engage with your audience:

  • Respond promptly to customer inquiries, comments, and feedback on social media, email, or your website.
  • Use social media to start conversations with your followers. Ask questions, run polls, or solicit feedback to get your audience involved.
  • Host online events, such as webinars or live Q&A sessions, to engage with your audience and showcase your expertise.

Building a strong online presence is critical for small businesses in South Africa. By creating a professional website, setting up social media accounts, claiming your business listings, creating valuable content, and engaging with your audience, you can establish yourself as a credible and authoritative business in your industry.


If you don’t have the time and energy to do this yourself,it’s probably best to either hire a marketing assistant who will be able to build this out, or you can contract a design agency to build one for you. If you need the funds to make this happen, then FundingHub can definitely help you compare business finance offers.


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