Yesterday on my flight to Boston I was talking to a gentleman about marketing through social networks. We were discussing how the Internet has completely changed the way we reach customers and prospects, as well as what prospects and clients are attracted to. Some considerations for your online brand…
1. Is your Cyber-Slip showing? This comes from the Title of a recent article published in the National Speakers Association monthly publication. The writer rightly points out that users of Facebook and other social networking sites tend to disregard security settings, thus “over-sharing” personal preferences, and perhaps adding to the damage by linking with others who speak too freely. We’re talking here about life-style, political views, hobbies, etc. Much of this can be harmless, however, you never know what people who you “sort of” know, and are linked to, are going to post. Be careful – social sites are one of the first places prospects are going to learn about you as you work through the sale process.
2. Freedom of speech…yes, we supposedly have some level of freedom of speech, however your comments on blogs and Facebook walls are searchable by everyone. Once you post it or send it, it’s forever posted. You can’t recall it! If you change your mind, or you mature over the years and realize you were being over zealous, your comments are not going to be updated. The Internet is here to stay, so post only things you want posted forever. Never post or email when angry about something.
3. Sterile sites – check out your website. This is your online image. Is it you, or is it boring? I’ve recently transitioned my primary site to my blog. Why? My website is informational, but static. Many companies are putting their blog on their website – this is okay, but I think a mistake. The first thing your prospects want to know is who you are. Remember the overused phrase, “Trusted Advisor”? It’s overused, yet it still means something. The idea of building trust is still essential, and the person building trust is you. People get to know you through your online presence. Make it trustworthy, and give people a personality to trust. Your character must somehow shine through your web presence, and the blog is the best place to do it. Take them to your blog, then as people get to know you, take them to your website to learn about products and services.
4. Outdated data…So you’re on LinkedIn…this is a great start, but have you provided the details. There is nothing worse than searching for John Smith and having a thousand LinkedIn profiles show up without pictures. If you are going to join, keep it updated. LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with people as they transition from one job to the next. While email addresses are changing, people connected through LinkedIn can stay in contact.
5. Pictures…pictures are worth a thousand words, right? Check out your photos online…Most people who take the time to put a picture on Linkedin use a head shot. Not bad – but make sure it’s current. Your 70’s hair-doo might need to be updated. Why do so many people use a weird picture on Facebook? Casual is great for social networking, but if you’re in business, don’t put something sensual (if you’re a woman) or just plain freaky online…this is your trusted brand.
Are you doing any of these things? It’s time to clean up and create the right image. Start by Googling yourself – do this often and see what’s out there. Then take inventory of what you have online and start fixing it. If you don’t have anything online – you are missing a great opportunity to build a brand that will help you over the coming years.