How do you grow your presence online?
You already have a blog and you pump out dozens of tweets every day. Youâ€™re running the Facebook marketing machinery in top gear and youâ€™ve even jumped onto Pinterest. Yet, your traffic flatlines and your online presence continues to stagnate.
We could tell you all the basic things about creating an online presence â€“ blogging, tweeting, and pinning â€“ but instead, we are going to focus onÂ howÂ you need to do things to create lasting influence online. Below, we consider the approach you must adopt toÂ reallyÂ grow your online presence:
It sounds deceptively simple and positively â€˜new-ageyâ€™, but this four letter word embodies everything that you need to become successful online. It demands that you reconfigure your expectations and adopt a more altruistic approach to your online endeavors.
To give is to listen more, talk less. It is to volunteer expertise, even if there is no possibility of profit. It is to be genuine with your flaws and authentic with your excuses.
In other words: it is to give more, take less.
Start by sharing your knowledge on online forums such as Quora. You canâ€™t benefit directly from your Quora answers, but every time one of your responses helps out one of Quoraâ€™s millions of users, you grow your sphere of influence just a tiny bit more.
Itâ€™s the same with running a blog: donâ€™t run one with the expectation of financial reward. Run it with the goal of giving a voice to your opinions, thoughts, and expert knowledge. Share freely, generously, and soon enough, you will find people gravitating towards you.
Adopt this philosophy to all your endeavors and your path to online success will become that much clearer.
2. Turn Your Users into Evangelists
If there is anyone who knows how to build a viral presence online, itâ€™s Pinterest founder, Ben Silbermann.
When it was first launched, Pinterest wasnâ€™t the page-view munching monster that it is today. In fact, the site struggled with just 10,000 users in the first nine months of its launch. But Silbermann stuck it out and adopted a marketing strategy unique among high-growth startups: he startedÂ holding real-world meetings with Pinterestâ€™s users.
These were the early adopters and hardcore users who formed a big chunk of Pinterestâ€™s then flagging audience. Silbermann knew that by actively courting them, he could encourage some to turn from mere users into evangelists.
The strategy, of course, worked: those heavy users told their friends, who told their friends, and so on (because seriously: how many people can boast having coffee with the founder of the site they adore?) until the idea reached the tipping point and Pinterest witnessed its very own hockey-stick growth.
The lesson: court your early adopters. Wow them with brilliance and shower them with special attention. They may be harder to please, but no one will evangelize your products louder and wider than them.
3. Establish a Visual Culture
Pictures, as they say, speak a thousand words. Instagram, Tumblr, Vine and Pinterest Â are making sure those thousand words are heard by everyone.
You can blame it on the proliferation of smartphones and tablets or our reduced attention spans, but the web has transformed into a visual medium in the past few years. Tumblr is one of the fastest growing properties in the world (whichÂ Yahoo acquired for $1.1Bn),Â Instagram sold for a billion dollars in stock, and Pinterest has beenÂ valued at $2.5Bn. The dramatic success of these largely visual sites means no consumer facing company can afford not to have a visual culture.
Establishing a visual culture requires that you create a color palette, imagery and typography associated with your brand. This must be consistent across all your marketing efforts, regardless of the medium. Every image that you share must correspond in some way to this established visual identity. Think how Appleâ€™s marketing is always minimalistic with a white-black-silver color palette, or how American Apparelâ€™s marketing materials can be marked by their close identification with hipster-culture, or how IBMâ€™s trademark blue can be recognized anywhere.
Success in the online world today requires propagating visual content, and for that, you need to create an identifiable visual culture.
4. Create Content and Conversations
Content creates conversations, conversations creates connections, and connections create cash.
All money online follows this simple organic flow.
It sounds esoteric and opaquely conceptual, but the fundaments are easy enough to grasp: Every time you produce a piece of content and share it with others, you create the possibility of engaging your audience in a conversation.
When you reply to a comment on your blog, answer a forum question, reply to a tweet, or even let your readers debate that content among themselves, you initiate a conversation.
A conversation has the innate ability to blossom into a deep connection. And as any marketer will tell you, connections lead to cash.
Your online presence, therefore, must be geared towards creating content and nurturing conversations. Your aim should be to create content so engaging that your readers canâ€™t help but share it with their friends and followers. The more your content circulates, the higher your chances of creating conversations and connections. The effect is exponential; great content breeds great conversations, which, in turn, breeds great connections. Everything that you do online must follow this diktat.
Even Gary Veynerchuk seems to agree in his book, â€œCrush It!â€:
Itâ€™s about putting up good content, creating conversation, and spending ten percent of your time working out how to make money!