As a New Year begins, many will review the work of the previous twelve months and search for ways to enhance their performance during the months to come.
For those with professions closely connected to the web, a productive and cost-effective measure will be to develop a strong presence across social networks.
With a seemingly inexhaustible supply of online platforms to utilize, however, this activity could prove far more difficult to begin than one might expect. In an effort to set you off on the right foot, we offer the following suggestions for jump starting your online presence in 2010:
- START A BLOG
Blogs provide an outstanding and relatively simple platform from which to promote your activities. Whether used as an extension to your existing website or as a main site in its own right, a blog allows you to deliver information on products and services, share your expertise in your field, build a community interested in your updates, and keep in touch with customers and fans.
As an added bonus, your increased online output and links to your name and services will assist in your climbing the search engine rankings, making it easier for those with an interest to find you online. All of this from a platform that is generally free and no more difficult to use than a standard word processor.
- BROADCAST YOURSELF ON YOUTUBE
Often overlooked as a part of the social media community by businesses and artists alike, YouTube has the potential to access an extremely large audience, many of whom will have a keen interest in your activities. With over 300 million people watching worldwide – and 98.8 million of those in the US alone – it’s a community that should be right up there with Facebook as one you seek to engage.
Part of the hesitation is perhaps down to the relative difficulty in creating content for your own YouTube channel, as video is obviously more time and equipment intensive than simply writing a blog entry or posting to Facebook. With the proliferation of camera phones, webcams, and inexpensive digital camcorders, though, creating video content that is both entertaining and broadcasts your message is easier now than ever before. There are also plenty of enterprising young companies and individuals out there to assist your inner Spielberg, so reaching out to your network should be all that’s required to have you on the digital airwaves in no time at all.
- FIRE UP YOUR FACEBOOK PROFILE
As you may have observed, Facebook is no longer the exclusive outpost of college students finding another outlet for their procrastination. With over 300 million users now registered worldwide and the fastest growing demographic in 2009 being those aged 35-54 (broad, but telling nonetheless), the most well known social network of them all is another platform on which you are sure to find an important audience. With its fairly rigid structure for company and artist profiles, however, it can be a challenge to make your page stand out and encourage return visits.
It can be a chore to locate the various tools that will make your page *pop* but it will be worth the effort when your audience lingers, then returns regularly, because your content and features stand out to them. Standard elements such as adding videos, photos, and links to your own sites are a great starting point, after which you should investigate adding applications to include interactive features like polls, games, and many more that keeps your audience engaged with your community.
- DEVELOP YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
With the rise of social media, the dividing line between business and personal activities has become increasingly blurred. Individuals have become their own businesses – or at least their personalities are inextricably linked to their organization(s) – and companies presenting themselves on networks like Twitter and Facebook are required to inject a more personable side to their interactions. All of which makes it an outstanding time to build your own personal brand.
Accessing more professional platforms such as LinkedIn provides outstanding opportunities to connect with other professionals both in and out of your chosen industry. Joining groups, participating in industry discussions, updating others on your current projects, and attending real-world member meet ups will all help to expand your business network and learn from those with knowledge you require. At the same time, you can do the same for those you connect with and build a reputation for expertise in your particular field. And, of course, you never know when that casual discussion online will turn into a critical connection that you couldn’t progress without. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, as someone wise once stated.
Picking up on some (or all, if ambitious!) of these starting points will lead to a great many opportunities to expand both online networks and reputation, if taken up with enthusiasm and an open mind to the possibilities of each.
It is important to maintain an ongoing presence on any online platform, of course, keeping content fresh and discussion active to encourage return visits and converting your audience to a fan or client. If you have questions on any of these suggestions or success stories of your own, we would love to hear them in the comments or via e-mail.
Have you taken steps to develop your online presence so far this year? If so, what have you done?
What areas of your social networking and online media management should you prioritize for the coming year?