So you’ve decided to market yourself on the Internet.
Here’s the problem, there is no “right” way to use Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or any other social networking site. Well, maybe that’s not true, there is one simple rule: use them!
I hear a lot of people say, “Well, if I’m not going to use Twitter right I’m not going to use it at all.” I don’t agree. In the least, you should be aware of the conversations going on in these online circles. You’re able to get the kinds of customer feedback that marketers could only dream about 20 years ago. Ignoring these sites because you don’t want to invest the time in understanding them is a missed opportunity.
At minimum, you register your name, find the kinds of people who you want to attract to your business, and then follow their movements. Different industries have had different rates of uptake on social networking. You might find robust networks already in place, or you might not – either way there’s a fantastic opportunity for you to engage these audiences.
But going back to doing your approach, there are lots of ways to approach your internet persona, because ultimately that is what we’re talking about. In general terms, we don’t think of companies as a collection of people – we think of them as a single entity. Your company internet presence should have a personal touch to separate you from the faceless corporations. And as a small business or a sole-proprietor you are in an excellent position to create a voice.
Ultimately, it’s not a secret sauce or a magical mix (or any other alliterative device you can name) to develop a voice. Mostly, it’s about not being a jerk or a troll. What do I mean? Well, this guy has the idea with these basic rules of human interaction. The rules of social etiquette also apply on the internet – treat people how you would in person the first time you meet them. Every post or comment that you write will be the first time someone has interacted with you – make sure you leave a good first impression.
And, really, this is all common sense. The hardest part is just keeping up with the conversation and spending the time to regularly contribute. It doesn’t have to take hours. But it does take persistence – which has always been the guiding state of the small business person.
Miles Baker is the project manager at Actual Media, a custom research/design firm and business publisher in Toronto. In his time there he has seen the company through six website relaunches, three brand launches and hundreds of other small initiatives. He is also the publisher of MONDOmagazine.net, an online arts and humour magazine, and assistant festival coordinator with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, torontocomics.com.