I don’t know about you, but every time I read about the latest-greatest online platform, I feel—at least for a moment—like I might be missing out on something important. Inevitably, the author of the article claims how this new craze is the next big thing, and EVERYBODY is going to be on it soon.
This is when the “Fear of Missing Out” rears its ugly head. We scramble over to Google to check it out, and then promptly waste a good chunk of time setting up a profile and poking around the platform before realizing: 1) What’s the big deal? 2) This looks complicated; 3) I just don’t have time.
Well, that’s right; you probably don’t have the time to waste. Nor should you.
No, you DON’T need to be everywhere!
Let’s be clear, we’re talking about you and me: individuals who are professionals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Time is our biggest commodity—so we mustn’t waste it!
For large brands (think: Coke, Nike, Apple, etc), they absolutely should be everywhere. On that large of a scale, they must be everywhere to effectively compete. And of course they are everywhere, because they employ armies of enthusiastic young computer nerds to bombard the cyberworld with their brand’s message. Good for them.
You and I are not them, obviously. We need to be more selective with our time and efforts. We can’t afford to chase every shiny new object on the Internet.
The good news is that, on a more moderate scale of building a brand, really don’t need to be everywhere. In fact, just three places, really.
The Big Three
For any small business or professional individual, you should really focus your efforts in three places online. This goes for the traditional brick and mortar business, as well as Internet based businesses. As you grow, you might add one or two supplemental platforms, but you can cross that bridge when you come to it.
Just like a brick and mortar business needs a physical building in the real world, your online brand needs a place to call home in cyberspace. That’s what a website is for. It’s a place where people can return to in order to find your business online.
This is a place where you can introduce yourself, talk about what you do, offer your visitors some valuable and/or entertaining content, and reach out to them in order to form a connection.
But that “connection” is most solidified through an exchange of email addresses. On your website, you can offer them something of value delivered electronically (an eBook, a checklist, an instructional video) in exchange for their email address.
2) Email List
Now the relationship has gotten more solidified. Once a person has subscribed to your email list, you have permission to contact them directly. You don’t have to wait (or hope) for them to remember to come back to your website. Now you can reach out to them whenever appropriate to communicate important information.
You can (and should) deliver valuable content to them on a regular basis (once a week is plenty, but even once a month is good). More tips or advice relating to your expertise. More solidifying of the relationship. More trust being built.
Then every once in a while, you can share offers with them if you think it’s something that they might want or need. You’ve earned their trust by now, so they won’t mind. They might even thank you.
3) Facebook Fan Page
OK, so far, so good. But where do all of these website visitors come from?
Well, eventually, they might come from Google. But that could take a year or two, sometimes more before you see significant search engine traffic.
In the meantime, Facebook is your best bet. But no, I’m not talking about your personal profile where you share pictures of your cat and play Candy Crush. I’m talking about setting up a Fan Page for your business or brand.
The main reason to do this is so that you can take advantage of the best marketing tool on the Net: Facebook Ads.
Now wait, before you say that this sounds too complicated and too expensive, I will assure you that it is neither! The folks at Facebook are a pretty sharp bunch, and they’ve figured out that if they make their ads easy and affordable, they can sell them to the whole world instead of just a very small population of advertising gurus and techno-geeks.
The interface could hardly be easier, you only have to spend a few dollars a day to see amazing results. The most important part is effectively targeting your Facebook Ads, and for that I have created this hand guide:
All Together Now
These three elements work in conjunction with one another to form a very efficient loop that will help you obtain new leads, and form strong relationships with them over time. Then, in a relatively short period of time, you can start reaping the harvest of what you’ve sown.
It’s important to note that you will actually own two of these three components, the website and the email list. It’s always risky to build your house on someone else’s land, so it’s not wise to invest too deeply in third party platforms, either with your time or money.
In any case, trying to do too many things will drain your energy and enthusiasm, causing you to lose focus. Remember that finishing one or two tasks is better than starting 100 tasks then never completing them. So again, you don’t need to be everywhere, especially in the beginning.
Things change fast in social media. As your success grows, you can gradually add one or two more platforms to your branding and marketing plan. But by then you’ll be successful enough to hire your own computer nerd to handle all of those tasks for you, giving your more time to focus on the bigger picture.