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Take a second to Google yourself or your business. What comes up? Is it reflective of what you want your brand to be about? Does it look professional and inviting?

We can all agree that building an online presence is one of the most beneficial strategies you can use to leverage a business. But let’s be honest, it can be a totally overwhelming task! Between juggling multiple platforms, creating posts and pictures, and finding the time to do it all, things can get out of hand — fast!

Before you throw in the towel or start seeing red, here are 5 tips that I’ve learned about managing an engaging, informative, and effective online presence.

1) Be Consistent

Consistency helps to build that essential “know, like, trust” factor — which is really the whole goal when it comes to having an online presence. Start by creating a consistent look across all platforms. Use the same profile picture or image, bio, tagline, and color theme (if possible) on all accounts. This will help your audience recognize you more quickly when they’re jumping around different social sites online.

Your posts and messaging should also be published consistently. Set up a schedule to publish blogs, share articles, and post to social media accounts on a regular basis. Tools like an editorial calendar and social media scheduling apps like Hootsuite can be lifesavers!

2) Provide Value

I know you’ve probably heard this 1,000 times but what does “providing value” really mean? In a nutshell, value is whatever your audience wants or needs from you in order to better themselves, their business, or lifestyle. Concentrate on providing great resources, tips, articles, and posts that will help build your audiences knowledge on your topic or industry and enable them to see you as a reliable resource.

One way to ensure that you’re providing real value is to use an 80:20 ratio when it comes to posting information. This means, 80% of posts should mention other people’s content and be fun and engaging and only 20% should be of self-promotional content. Why? This shows that 1) you’re not only all about tooting your own horn, and 2) that you’re interested in building a relationship with your audience and establishing a sense of camaraderie, and 3) that you’re an active member of your industry and community.

3) Build Connections

Social media is easy to consume, consume, consume, but if you want to build connections, you must engage and interact with Femworking FB #2your audience regularly. Sharing another person’s article or endorsing their expertise is the one of the best ways to flatter someone and open up the lines of communication. Be sure to include that person or company’s handle whenever you’re sharing articles. This way, your post will be seen by their audience as well as your own.

Another way to build connections is to connect directly to your audience. Answer their questions, comment on their posts, and share their work. Create a weekly poll or photo contest to help spark engagement — and be sure to respond to every comment or piece of feedback that you receive! Add awesome individuals to your Twitter Lists. Think of it all as leaving a trail of evidence. Your likes, comments, posts, and direct messages are all evidence of your online presence and of how much you care about your audience.

4) Be Polite – ALWAYS

Speaking of responding to comments, people can be a little crazy online… there are always Internet trolls lurking and ready to tear down anyone and everyone. DO NOT ENGAGE. Remember that everything you do online is public and never really goes away. Getting into an argument or bad-mouthing another person or company can really damage your brand and your reputation. So keep it positive and polite and spread the love!

5) Be Authentic

Femworking FB #1Now you might get to this last tip and think, “But Kelley… I have opinions and feelings that aren’t always positive and polite! Am I being unauthentic if I keep those secret?” The truth is that you can be totally authentic without letting negativity seep into your messaging. When building your online presence, you need to be true to who you are as a business professional. Think of it this way: the way you act around your BFF is probably a bit different than how you act around your mother-in-law. You’re still being yourself, but your role or relationship is just a wee bit different.

Keep these 5 tips in mind as you grow your followers and improve your engagement and you’ll have a solid online presence in no time!

What strategies do you have for building and maintain your online presence? Share in the comments below or let me know on Twitter: @Femworking