Tips to get your business online

Image of someone using social media on their mobile phone.

With 33% of Australians spending more time online due to COVID-19, it's more important than ever that your business has an online presence. That could be through a website, online sales platform, social media page, online advertising or listing you business on any number of popular online directories.

Even if your business does not do online sales, it is still beneficial to be online. Being online is one of the easiest ways to raise brand awareness and reach many potential customers, showcasing your products, services and key business information such as your opening hours, address and contact details.

Nowadays, people also expect to see businesses online, especially on Google Maps and social media. More than 80% of Australians use social media, 32% use it to research brands and products and in July 2020, 73% purchased something online.

To help you with the basics of starting out online for free, we've curated the below how-to guide.

If you would like to talk to a business support officer about information on this page or other support available for businesses from Council, please call 1300 36 2170 or email us at business@liverpool.nsw.gov.au.

Statistics sourced from the Digital 2020: July Global Statshot Report.

Note: This webpage is not intended as advice, however a how-to guide should businesses opt to expand their online presence. Businesses should seek their own independent advice and make and rely on their own research and enquiries before developing or engaging online as suitable for its particular business needs. Free digital advisory support is offered through Australian Small Business Advisory Service (ASBAS) Digital Solutions and NSW Business Connect.

Google, the world's most popular search engine, is one of the best resources for businesses to tap into.

By setting up a free Google My Business account, you can have your business listed on Google Maps. Ensuring you're listed allows customers to easily find your business through a Google search, Google Maps and local search results. Customers will see key information you choose to display, such as your operating hours, phone number, address and reviews. With a Google My Business account you can also respond to reviews and upload images of your business, products or services, helping to earn trust from customers and improving the likelihood of a customer using your business.

Follow these instructions to get your business listed on Google:

Step 1:
Go to google.com/business and click 'Manage now'. You will be prompted to search your business name or you will need to add a listing from scratch. If your business name appears, you will be prompted to verify your business and once you've done so, will be able to update your business details and respond to any reviews.

Step 2: 
If you need to add a listing, you will be prompted to add the following before you can complete your listing:

  • The category that fits your business best;
  • The location customers can visit;
  • Details about your delivery service, if you have one; and
  • Your business' contact details.

Once complete you will be able to promote the business with photos and posts, track analytics and respond to reviews left by customers.

Reminder:
If your business details change, such as operating hours, your address or phone number, it is important to ensure that your details are updated on Google Maps.

Social media helps you connect directly with your customers, humanise your business and expand your reach to new customers. Social media is good to advise customers if you have an updated menu, new items to sell or promote, events or need to communicate with them in a time of crisis.

Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms in Australia and are free to use, but require time commitment for updates.

Things to consider when starting a social media account for your business:

WHO
Who is your target market? Where are they located, what is their age, what are they interested in? This will determine which platforms are best for your business and what information you share.
Who will maintain your social media account?

HOW
How will you maintain your social media account?
How much time do you have to maintain the platforms?
How much money do you have to promote on social media?

WHAT
What is the right platform for your business?
What information will you share on social media?

WHY
Why do you need a social media account? What do you want to achieve? Sales? Exposure? Leads?

WHEN
When will you be posting online?

How to create a Facebook page for your business:

Step 1: Click the + button in the top right corner when logged into your personal Facebook account and select 'Page'. 
Step 2: Complete the Create a Page details on the left of the screen, including page name, category and a short description of your business.
Step 3: Add your logo as a profile image to help customers identity your business and add a high quality image for the cover photo which helps represent what the page is about. For example, a cake shop may have a picture of several cakes.
Step 4: Your page is now complete. Invite Facebook friends to like your page and commence posting suitable content for your customers, such as updates to your business, new products, services, sales or promoting your upcoming events.
Step 5: Promote your Facebook page in store and on business cards to let customers know you're on Facebook.

For further tips, visit the Facebook for Business help page.

How to create an Instagram account for your business:

Step 1: Download the Instagram app from the Apple App store or Google Play store, whichever is compatible with your mobile device.
Step 2: Tap sign up and enter an email, then press next (alternatively, you can log in with an existing Facebook account).
Step 3: Set up a free profile, click the settings icon and select Switch to Business Profile. Then you can add relevant information about your business to your profile description for customers to see, such as opening hours, address, phone number and a link to your website, if you have one.

For further tips, head to the Instagram for Business help page.

Listing on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) is free of charge.

The ATDW is Australia’s national tourism database and distribution platform, which represents over 90,000 small and medium sized tourism products and destinations. The purpose of the ATDW is to support tourism operators, including small businesses such as cafes and restaurants, to extend their exposure and attract more business online.

By registering your business in the ATDW database, your business can be listed on Australian local, state and federal tourism websites. Over 250 tourism distributors promote businesses that are registered on ATDW.

How to list your business with ATDW:

Step 1: Visit the ATDW website listing subscription page and select 'List My Business'.
Step 2: Follow the prompts and add your ABN, name of your business/organisation, address, contact details and select 'Register Now'. You will be promoted to create a user account including name, email and password.
Step 3: Follow the prompts and select your listing category e.g. Food and Drink, as well as other key information about your business, such as the name of your establishment and how you would describe your establishment. Follow the remainder of the prompts to add information suitable for publishing, such as contact details, website, accessibility information and upload high quality photos of your business, services or products.

Please remember ATDW-Online is a live platform, so all updates published will be displayed across the ATDW distribution network.

Adding your business to Tripadvisor is free of charge. It allows you to reach more than 60 million consumers each month, who use the platform to make travel plans. Tripadvisor is used for hotels and holiday rentals, restaurants, cafes, bars and attractions. It helps you appear when people are searching for things to do in Liverpool and allows potential customers to see your key business information and photos of your business, services or offerings.

Visit the List a Business on Tripadvisor webpage and follow the prompts to add your listing.

Click here to see the current area listing for Liverpool.

Liverpool City Council's Local Business Directory is regularly promoted to the Liverpool community to encourage them to shop and eat local. If your business is based in the Liverpool Local Government Area, get your business listed for free.

Liverpool City Council is delivering a comprehensive program to support local businesses and jobseekers. We have provided financial assistance, created connections and led skills development initiatives to help businesses adapt and thrive.

In early 2020, Council hosted a free webinar series to help businesses get online quickly, cheaply and effectively so they can continue to reach existing and new customers. You can watch recordings of the webinar series on our YouTube channel.

Visit our COVID-19 support page for more information about Council support, as well as links to training and webinars provided by Council and partners in our network.

If you would like to talk to a business support officer about information on this page or other support available for businesses in Liverpool from Council, please call 1300 36 2170 or email us at business@liverpool.nsw.gov.au.