Show me your face!
Would you go to a business meeting wearing a hood? No. So, why would you have a picture of anything other than yourself to represent your business on the Net?
It’s a funny thing: people like to deal with people. We spend a great deal of time (or should) showing and building our professional humanity. Then we cover it with an icon, a logo, or our favorite gold fish. IBM is a typical corporation. There is not a human face on their front page, just their logo. Don’t be like IBM. Be human.
I can lecture hints and tips until I’m blue but this one is really easy: Show your face.
Let me see the person behind this great company of yours. What’s more, let me see the same pic or very few other pics on all your cyber properties. And when I see you at a mediacon I’ll know your company and you!
An all encompassing cyber presence means having a central location (a blog or a Facebook page) on the Net that is fed by and broadcasts to other smaller outpost sites (Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, etc). I refer to these sites as “wave your flag” properties.
Perhaps this doesn’t fall under hints and tips. Maybe it is more like a strategy, but Outposts are a “force multiplier” that puts high grade fuel in your social media machine. That is, your information is available on locations that get much more traffic then you can command on your blog (at least for now) and then a portion is sent to you. That’s leverage!
You must keep up these outposts and you must show your face there, but characteristically, they require much less of your time than your blog will. The return on this minimal time far exceeds the effort to keep them up, especially if calculated over time.
Connect and network your outposts
The keyword here is “network.” It shouldn’t take a tome of hints and tips to tell you that if all your sites are not known to the other and passing information, then each of them are just isolated forts in Indian territory and the cavalry ain’t coming.
When I say connect I mean there should be pointers to your other sites (to say nothing of your blog). You should be thinking “links” and interlinking sites. If it helps, think of it as an empire with a network of roads that allow commerce back and forth (with your information as the trade product). I should be able to find you and other sites from any of your properties.
Build a forum where your faithful can subscribe and talk
This really depends on your product and business model, but if there are allot of people and information flowing about, build a community and a place for them to meet.
One of the best hints and tips for this section and one that’s hard to see until it hits you in the face is the fee for access forum. Generate enough interest and following and you can charge for membership.
Membership communities sometimes pop-up without your intent to establish one. But when people orbit around a subject they gain “mass and gravity.” Give them a place to meet, maintain it, charge a minimal fee, and watch it explode.
If you don’t build it, you miss an opportunity to tap into the minds and expertise of others. You miss real potential to generate substance for everyone’s interest. Choose not to build it and not only do you lose the opportunity to generate more authority in your field you just may lose a chunk of your followers.
Engage your followers
People are smart. They can see a huckster coming a mile away. Just as easily they can tell when someone doesn’t care about their welfare. People want to be spoken to, engaged. No one wants to be tricked or hoodwinked. People hate schmucks.
Best hints and tips in this section: don’t be a schmuck.
If you are going to be maintaining a blog or, even more so, a membership site, treat everyone as the valuable resource they are. Provide substance, bring in quest authority figures, remember who people are, and most of all talk to, not at, them.
Write like you speak
Whenever we populate a blog or an outpost with content, we are communicating thoughts, ideas, and concepts. With the exception of podcasts (audio/video), we are always writing.
Writing becomes the vehicle of expression that carries our thoughts to the reader. We know what we are saying and what the reader should understand from our words. Often, that’s not exactly what happens.
The act of reading needs to flow so as not to interrupt the absorption of information. Often, this process is confounded by stilted or unnatural speech in written form.
Write like you talk.
Sure, there are occasions where you must adhere to conservative speech but mostly, you should be conversational. Don’t say “I must go home” when “I’m going home” will do nicely. And with the warning in place that we shouldn’t do it all the time, use slang now and then. “Watchamacallit” packs allot of meaning!
Support and include other content makers
This is arguably the most important of my hints and tips: use and incorporate other peoples genius.
If you truly want to be included in cyberspace, you can’t be afraid to showcase other people’s work. There are allot of people out there smarter than me that I can’t possibly ignore. You shouldn’t either.
If you need a reason to read and acknowledge smart content makers (beyond just being a nice person), I think you will find this useful. Have you ever had a content block? Not been able to think what you will post next? Read and absorb the content of others. Its inspirational!
Now, I didn’t say you should copy their stuff. Never ever plagiarize. Just don’t. But compare what your latest read to your site and subject. How does it relate? Write about that. Want to make that deeper and more valuable? Link back to the site of your inspiration. No writers block ever again. I promise.