Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 15, 2010 8:53 PM

What Should I Do Online?

It's been nearly two decades since I've been using the Internet as a both a communication and marketing channel.

Over the years, many things have evolved, changed and been introduced. I'd like to think that this is an amazing time to be alive (and, it is). But through it all, there is always one question that I am constantly (and consistently) asked by clients of Twist Image or individuals after a presentation...

"What should I do online?"

And, without question, it is the most difficult question to answer because (as you know) the Internet isn't one thing. It's many things. It's many evolving things and without having a real strategy (or "the why?" to be connected and engaged), it's just not something that can be answered with straightforward: "do this!"

Maybe it's the wrong question?

Is asking, "what should I do online?" the same as asking, "what is the best way to grow my business?" Sounds fair to me. My answer won't be your answer, and my industry is going to be different from your industry, and the players within your industry are all going to act in a very different way as well. You take a look at the top ten Digital Marketing agencies in the world, and my guess is that the way in which they connect, engage and grow their businesses online is fundamentally different. Even looking at our own agency, I have yet to see one of our contemporaries market and work their business development funnel the same as we do (in fact, I've never seen an agency that looks even remotely close to ours). My guess is that they would say the same thing about us.

So, what should you be doing online?

Should you be active on Twitter? Should you try to be gaining traction on Facebook? What about creating videos and publishing them on YouTube? Blogging? Podcasting? None of that really matters.

Wait, "none of that matters?" Have I lost my mind?

If you really want to know what you should be doing online (or even, The One thing you should be doing online), my recommendation is to network in a real and authentic way. We're not talking about networking like you see at your local chamber of commerce meet-ups where people whip out business cards and throw them around like ninja stars, but networking as in:

  • Finding a networking community that shares your interests (and yes, this can be a Facebook page, LinkedIn or a handful of Blogs).
  • Making sure that everyone connected in the community has shared/similar values.
  • Adding your own value (insights, news, etc...) that helps to elevate to the community and the participants.
  • Do much more for others before asking them to do something for you (I think Chris Brogan's rule is perfect: do twelve things for others before asking them to do one thing for yourself).
  • Don't ask for business, but try to find business for everyone else.
  • Plug into the community. Sincerely. Get to know your neighbours and be helpful.

It's not sexy and it doesn't add to your bottom line... today.

...And that's why so few people do it so well, and those that do it very well are the true rock stars of their industry.

That's what you should do online.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Michael Bower
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch thanks for putting to words the ultimate business model.

    Be helpful. Volunteer what and who you know to people who need your kind of expertise and connections.

    It's cool that in an economy like now, this approach works.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jaylone
    Mitch Joel

    I think the key word in your first sentence is 'channel'. Too often the Internet is viewed as an end in and of itself, rather than a means to an end. Asking 'what should I do online?' is like asking 'what should I do on TV?' or 'what should I do in next week's paper?'... The Internet happens to be a great way to 'spread the word', but the most important thing is what you actually have to say. Without starting there, it's hard to be authentic. Just another way to look at what I think you are (rightly) trying to get across.

    Reply
    • Posted by Ivan Walsh
      Mitch Joel

      Hi Jaylone,

      The channel metaphor is very apt.

      I remind clients to tie in all the loose ends so it all dove-tails together.

      They don’t always get it. Why? There’s always something new, more fashionable, the in thing… and they follow that until it doesn’t work and then chase something else.

      Most of us on the blog at ‘power users’ and we can forget the infatuation newbies have when first embracing Social Media and other web technologies.

      It can be very exciting but you need to help them put some shape on their activities. Otherwise, they do in circles.

      Reply
  • Posted by Darren L Carter
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch what's up?

    Really great post.
    I'm just getting started online but I totally agree. Helping people is where it all starts. Not enough people are willing to work hard to help people.

    They don't realize that giving value is how you help yourself.

    Thanks for the article!

    Peace,
    Darren L Carter

    Reply
  • Posted by Jacki Dilley
    Mitch Joel

    I really enjoyed your article. Good, grounding words for when we start getting overwhelmed by all the possibilities and tools available.

    Your post reminds me of a suggestion to visit one new community member a week for a set period of time. Let them know you're looking for experts you can refer your friends to. Get to know their ideas, what value they're seeking to give, who their ideal customers are.

    It will all come back to you.

    Reply
  • Posted by Anshul Gupta
    Mitch Joel

    Very different but nice thoughts.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I love the six tips that you give to people who want to be involved online. This is a great article not just for Internet newbies... but for everyone. So many people break the six simple rules that you posted without even realizing that they're essentially 'digging their online grave.'

    Love this point in particular, because too many people are focused on "What can you do for me." versus "What can I do for you.":

    "Do much more for others before asking them to do something for you (I think Chris Brogan's rule is perfect: do twelve things for others before asking them to do one thing for yourself)."

    Reply
  • Posted by Nathalie Blais
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,
    Reading "Crush it"- Gary Vaynerchuck. For a hands on approach to navigating the web and "what to do online", Vaynerchuck is a great read.
    Start with a value proposition, then make sure all your interactions online support it, reinforce it and reflect it with your content.
    Regardless of your chosen online approach, be authentic, be honest and be true to your passion.

    Reply
  • Posted by IT MONTREAL
    Mitch Joel

    Really great post! Great suggestions and words of truth when it comes down to using and taking advantage of online opportunities. I appreciate your six steps in helping grow your business by using online tools. And I especially like your advise to find a networking community that shares the same interests as you (e.i Facebook or blogs) & your advise on trying to find business for everyone else rather then asking directly for business. In my opinion, I think this is great; besides a lot of people in my opinion reject you when asked for their business right off the bat; without consulting what they can really benefit from; so I do believe the most productive way is to find others business.

    All together, great shared ideas, and as well really helpful comment postings. Ultimately these were great thoughts and words of advise about expanding your business and the best approaches to do so.

    Thanks.

    Reply
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