Creating an internet presence requires more effort than building a website and hiring a geek to manage your Facebook page. And don't think you can learn about it in a two day seminar. That would be like thinking you could cap the BP spill with a toothpick. Just like you cannot master leadership skills at a 3 day retreat you will not create a true sustainable presence on the internet by delegating it to tech geeks and gurus.
I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fancy websites only to find out that the moment they were live they were already dated and no one could find them. Then I spent hours in meetings with supposed SEO gurus who told me it would take me years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create the presence I wanted.
The first thing to understand is the enormous and massive opportunity. Estimates suggest the internet will have just under 2billion unique visitors this year with 4.2 billion unique internet addresses, housed in some 44+ million servers that consume 5% of the world's electricity. Amazingly, the internet comprises some 40 million gigabytes of information which only weighs 56 millionths of a gram. In 2009 some 90 trillion emails were sent, from over 235 billion different websites, of which 80% were spam. The point of all these facts is that you must think in terms of a universe that is massive, yet weighs nothing. For a company or individual to create a presence in this vast universe and then maintain that presence it will take more than a fancy website, a techno-geek, a guru, a Facebook page, a tweet or two and a few video testimonials on YouTube.
First let's dispell some myths:
- No one guru can create a presence for you.
- You can not delegate this activity.
- The internet is bigger than a department.
- SEO, Social Networking, Blogging, Video do not stand alone as efforts.
- It does not cost 100's of thousands of dollars.
Your internet presence initiative will require a massive effort of resources in order to create, maintain and sustain a presence that generates real clients and real money for your company. You will have to utilize all social media not one or the other - FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, Flikr, LinkedIn, Buzz and whatever else is to come. You will be forced to blog and write articles for like-minded sites, tweet and use video sites to disseminate, (not advertise) information that is useful and do it in a way that is entertaining. Close out by engaging in traditional efforts like TV and radio to bring even more credibility and life to our ventures and causes.
After multiple frustrated meetings with high priced gurus I committed to travel into this new universe and explore it for myself in order to grow my presence on the internet. The first thing I did was to get my websites setup so that people would have a place to come to find out about me and my company. This should be considered the passive creation of your presence. I then created multiple websites centered around me, our products, our services, our area of expertise and any other endeavors or achievements associated with those sites in order to increase my footprint.
The next steps require the entrepreneurial think and actions where you will take every social media site available; Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Buzz and others and USE them to gather people that are interested in your products and services by building fans and followers. The way to do this is to give your audience information that they find valuable and useful. Social media is like creating a place for people to gather. People want to be entertained, feel good, be right, make good decisions, know things others don't, stay connected, make money, save money, hear the latest gossip, and be part of the 'in crowd'. For social media to work you have to be entrepreneurial, creative, engaging and entertaining. Understand the internet is about people not technology.
Now you are going to combine the social networking with Blogging, where you write informative articles for like-minded websites that have similar interests and also launch as much informational video/visual content as you can on YouTube, Daily Motion, Vimeo and the likes. Obscurity is your problem with the internet. This combination of active efforts will create your footprint in the internet universe and the more creative, consistent and relentless you are, the greater your presence will be and the more attention you will get.