I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Actually, it’s HUGE! It’s exactly how I AM online, and how you should be as well. First, some history. The Internet has been around for decades, believe it or not. In fact, though the common means of navigating the Internet was browser-less in it’s earlier years, even the browser-based user interface (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc) has been around for nearly 20 years, albeit much more primitively. That was Web 1.0.
With the burst of the dot-com bubble era in the earlier part of this decade (generally accepted as the tipping point), the birth of a new era began. The era revolved around information sharing, collaboration, and, alas, social media. Today, we have Web 2.0, where tools facilitate social networking with ease, and presence – You, Online! – is an interconnected virtual YOU as comprised of a plethora of personal blog entries, comments, status updates, friends and followers, videos, recordings, pictures, web sites,…and value.
Online social media sites such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn (and so on, and so on), and the vast array of tools such as WordPress, Ping.fm, eZine, and TweetLater to name just a few of the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of others, most of which are free to use, can be pulled together to make You, Online! larger than life! You can be everywhere – and you should be, if you’re really going to connect with the millions of folks out there looking for you. And, YES, millions of people are looking FOR YOU!
The key and common element in all of these technologies is YOU! YOU are the brand you’re marketing using these tools. (I tweeted profusely on the subject of personal branding recently so, if you haven’t read these, hop on over and follow me at http://www.twitter.com/drewberman.) Social media is about connecting with people and creating relationships. You need to create an online brand that provides value and instills trust. Nobody will trust someone they don’t know. In your business, trust is critical. As the saying goes: all things being equal, people like to do business with those they know, like, and trust. All things not being equal, people still like to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
Everyone has a brand, whether they know it or not. It’s who you are, what your parents created, and what you evolved. Here is the kicker: to create You, Online!, everything you are has to be appropriately reflected in what you say and do online, whether it be in written word, picture, or video. That’s your online brand. The more you “show up”, the better your presence, and the further reinforced You, Online! becomes. You, Online! evolves.
Your evolution happens through content. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – content is KING! Everything from a simple profile about Tricycle Championships to the description of a picture of Aunt Fannie’s 75th birthday to your status update after a great meal at the local pizzaeateratoria is content. It could be that simple. People read/view/watch your content. Some like it, some don’t. Some stick around and read/view/watch more, some move on. At the same time, there is another dimension to social media content – value – and that’s where you attract people on a whole new level. Again, some will find value in your content – these are the folks with whom you will do business; Some will move on.
Remember, social media isn’t a one-way street. Conversation is crucial. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone talked without response – boring, disconnected, random! Well, it would be the same online. You definitely need to put your own content out there, but part of You, Online! is also about responding to others. Comment on others’ blogs and statuses, tweet back in response to tweets, ask questions on your blog, or even create a video response with your webcam! Converse! Leave a trail and let it be you.
You, Online! is no better, worse, or different than who you are offline. You’ve had many years honing your brand offline. Now it’s time to do so online and reap the rewards of reaching a much larger audience than imaginable! The final frontier is creating online relationships that cross the divide into the real world where you actually meet, for example, for a cup of coffee. Go full circle. In fact, the relationship is primary to the agenda. There wouldn’t be much point of any form on social media, or even You, Online!, if online relationships didn’t move to personal interaction at some point.
If you would like to meet and learn more about how to create You, Online!, leave a comment below or enter your contact information to the right. Who knows, maybe, some day, we’ll meet for coffee!
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