WhiteAndGoldUnless you have been away from the news and social media for the past number of days, you have probably seen or heard postings about a dress in the U.K. that is causing controversy over what colours it is. Some people will see a white and gold dress in dark shadow, while some people see a blue and black dress that may be washed out in bright light. Then again, some see one interpretation and then switch to the other.

This dress colour controversy has taken over the Internet for the past number of days and has become a viral debate, but what does it mean to your small business? On the surface, it probably looks unimportant, unless you are the designer of the dress or a retailer that is selling them. But the fact that a mere perception of colour can create such a debate shows how online images might change the tide of a business.

While your small business may not encounter such a viral debate online, you should be monitoring whether your customers or competition sees you and your brand or business as white and gold or blue and black. If you want to have people see your business or brand as white and gold, but your image is blue and black, you have to get involved in the conversation and promote your business colours through social engagement.

Before you go about messing up your SEO and changing your keyword strategy to white and gold or blue and black, remember that this article is not about the debate over the colours of this dress. It is about perception. For many years businesses have spent millions of dollars on mass media advertising to influence or change public perceptions of their company or their brand. But now, with social influence, that perception can change in hours or even minutes. These days the tools that big business has access to are the same tools that small business can access as well.

Big business has relied on market research for years and has paid millions for it. But now there are research outlets that small business can access without the need for a big budget. One of the best ways to monitor the trends in your industry and what is being said about your company or brand is to set up Google Alerts regarding you want to monitor. It can also be done by setting alerts on your social media to find out when someone is mentioning you. Good or bad, the faster you react to what is being said about your company can make the difference from you being viewed as white and gold or blue and black.

In our case, as an office business centre that rents office space to small businesses, some would say that we are white and gold. But to some who might be looking for virtual office space, we might be seen as blue and black. Sometimes, you have to appeal to different audiences or customer bases. But most, importantly you have to be sure to keep those separate perceptions crystal clear to your potential customers.