Do you have a Facebook profile? LinkedIn? Do you use Twitter, have a blog or a website or use other social networking platforms, like the ABN’s Know-How Now! community? Do you use email stationery or signatures with tag-lines or links to various profiles?
If I looked at each of those profiles today, would they present a consistent, congruent message of who you are? Would they support the marketing message you broadcast when you’ve got your ‘Business Owner’ hat on? Or do they work against you?
The thing I find most exciting about online marketing is how effectively I can build relationships. In the ‘old’ days, I would attend networking functions, meet a handful of people and then, in order to build on the relationship, I would need to meet face-to-face or find other ways to ‘stay in touch’. But with online marketing, particularly the new social networking platforms, I can engage in meaningful, everyday conversations with people I would otherwise not get the chance to.
However, just as with ‘traditional’ marketing, if you want it to be effective, your message needs to be consistent. It’s not about necessarily saying the same words in each context, rather you need to present a consistent ‘voice’.
Here are my fundamental ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’.
- Be yourself
- Be aware of how public the online space really is
- Use your real name in social networking platforms
- Clarify your purpose for using a particular online platform and learn the etiquette for that platform. From that foundation, engage appropriately for the context.
- Review your foundational marketing pieces – website, blog, paper-based collateral, business cards – do they present a united front?
- Use some abstract user name in social networking sites that could be misconstrued as a login for a porn site or alternate reality game
- Use a photo that doesn’t match your desired image
- Throw together a website or blog that doesn’t live up to your professional image – a site that detracts from your brand image does more damage than no site at all
- Use online tactics that don’t ‘sit’ well with you
Online networking is really just ‘traditional’ networking in hyper-drive – but it’s still all about connections, engagement, relationships and trust. And to do that you need to be genuine and authentic.