Social networking sites are all the rage these days. With the click of a mouse, sites like Facebook and MySpace allow you to connect with people across the world on a minute-by-minute basis. But can enterprising Notaries use such sites to promote their business and find new customers?
The answer is "yes," but not exclusively. Notaries trying to market themselves and their services also should have a dedicated Web site for their business, said Thomas Harpointner, chief executive officer of the eBusiness consulting firm Advanced Internet Solutions Media Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. Think of the Web site as your virtual office, and the pages on social sites as virtual advertising and billboards, he said. The Web site is your primary business forum where customers can come for information about your services or to contact you. Social networking sites allow you to provide updates and draw potential customers to the main Web site. A billboard alone won't get people to buy a product, but it can guide people to the store, Harpointner said.
There are techniques a Notary entrepreneur can use to improve online visibility. Even if a main Web site only consists of a few pages, Harcourt suggested having each page on the main site dedicated to a single aspect of your business. For example, one page could list your training and credentials; another could describe your service area; and a third could list your contact information. A single subject on each page instead of multiple topics increases search engine visibility and improves online traffic to the page, Harpointner said.
When using social sites like Facebook to promote and link to businesses, it's best not to mix your professional image with personal - even unprofessional - material. "If you include a picture of you making a fool of yourself, potential customers can find it. Having this kind of loose online image can be very damaging to your business," Harpointner said.
Harpointner said a polished, professional look is crucial. If a Notary doesn't have good writing skills or knowledge of Web design, there are plenty of people who do. Just hire them. The investment is well worth the improved business, he said.
"You can work from home and establish an effective Web presence for a fraction of the cost of a real office, but the Web is perceived the same way as an office. If it's a big mess, full of clutter, customers will have a negative impression of your business," he said.