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?
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.