Quality over quantity: If what you are posting is not interesting or relevant than just don’t do it. People go online to be informed or be entertained; shoving coupons and advertisements at them will turn them off. Most important, your messages should be consistent, relevant and timely.
Identify your Audience: Know who your audience is and where they are communicating. There are lots of social media channels make sure if you are putting in the time you are in the right place. Forums and blogs often have more targeted audiences, so participating in those conversations may help you better reach your intended demographic.
If you are going to do it, than do it: No one likes fair-weather friends so if you are going to participate in the conversation you need to stick with it.
Don’t over extend yourself: Don’t hesitate to start small, maybe with one forum or community, to see how well it works for you. This will also help for future online communications planning by giving you an understanding of what is required for a successful program.
If at first you don’t succeed, try something new: Don’t be afraid to experiment, each business needs to develop a plan that fits their needs. Marketing plans need to stay flexible and evolving to keep up with advancing technology.
Guard you message: Just because it is happening fast you should not sacrifice your brand. The personalities that you create to communicate online need to be in line with the image you hope to present for your business.
“TED’s Chris Anderson says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print. But to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness. And for TED, it means the dawn of a whole new chapter.” — Ted.com
Watch the video. Then step back and ask yourself “how can you as a communicator help your organization accelerate innovation?” (Hint: think outside the box)
Part of the problem here is that people are jumping into online marketing and having to deal with new terminology. Here is a quick rundown of what’s what and how to use it.
Blogs: Formally Web Logs are online journals. Items are posted and displayed in the sequence written. Popular free platforms include Google Blog Spot and WordPress. Blogs are powerful tools for website updating and management allowing the owner to login and post, bypassing a dependence on developers. Blogs appeared in the 1990s and have continued to grow in popularity ever since. Twitter is a type of blog called a Micro-blog working much like any other blog but only allowing users to post 140 characters.
Forums: Online communities or discussion boards. Users who share similar interest congregate online to discuss targeted topics. Forums are an important part of any online marketing program. Because the subjects are niche oriented a business can communicate with users about issues related to topics the business deals with. Word of caution, do not hard sell anything in forums they are often moderated and users will reject that approach. Start by simply participating in the conversation and encouraging two-way communication.
Wikis: A website powered by a database of information updated by online users. These systems allow the easy creation and editing of topical information — off topic information may be removed. Don’t try to post online advertisements about your businesses, but do write about things you are an expert on. According to Wikipeda, wiki sites first appeared in the mid 1990s.
Video and photo sharing: Sites like YouTube and Flickr allow the free and easy viral sharing of videos and photos. These files tend to be quite large and can eat storage space. When information “goes viral” it means it has gained widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing.
Social news: Sites like Digg, launched in 2004, allow users to submit and vote on links or news stories. Votes from the community determine the placement or visibility of content submitted, those with higher ratings receiving higher placement. The social news phenomenon has led to the emergence of news aggregator sites where stories are collected and presented based on interest or topic. Marketers are free to share articles they write or articles found on other sites.
Mobile applications: These are little computer programs for your phone. iPhone is perhaps the most well know device using applications. Many of these programs are the quick, on the go link to social networking platforms. A site like Urbanspoon allows users to find a restaurant on the go. It is important, epically for businesses like attractions and restaurants, that the information on these apps is checked for accuracy. There is also an opportunity to react to bad comments and businesses are free to do so on some but should avoid nasty debates. Remember the Internet allows two-way communication, use it.
There is something about the Keys…
I remember my first time riding south on the Overseas Highway. I counted the mile markers with growing excitement as the landscape evolved into a seascape decorated with tacky storefronts and fishing boats.
Moving from Florida City into the Keys the pace of things slows, going from hustle to something short of sluggish. The place has changed little since my first trip, now 20 years ago.
This time I took the kid and I could hardly contain my glee as he did his own mile marker countdown. We snorkeled off Key Largo, his first time bathing in the warm green waters. We perused the local art on display at the Rain Barrel. We had ice cream at CJ’s. And we poked around the waters edge, scattering the fiddler crabs.
Having a child allows you to experience the fantastic parts of life all over, and although I have always loved the Florida Keys I don’t think I ever connected with the area like I did with my Kid in tow.