What Blanketing Myself Across the Entire Internet Taught Me about Marketing Online

This week, I want to talk with you about your online web presence. Specifically, I want to share my experience as well as discuss where you should be focusing your attention online. Let’s get started.

My Experience:

When I graduated from college, the online platforms that exist today didn’t exist then. All I really had was Facebook (not including Fan Pages), LinkedIn, blogs and my own personal website that wasn’t responsive and was built using Flash. That was pretty much it. If I wanted to find inspiration for my designs, I would look  to my peers, award shows, and spent hundreds of dollars subscribing to annual publications. If I wanted to promote myself, I relied heavily on my network, website, samples and email. I guess in some ways things were pretty predictable and became proven methods.

However, everything changed around the time I decided to open Greenline Creative. Foursquare popped up; Tumblr was becoming a hit; Facebook Fan Pages were something businesses were latching onto; and Twitter was on the cusp of defining the way I communicated online. Along with all of those great platforms, I became bombarded by niche platforms like Behance, Dribbble, and Flickr to name just a few. All of these platforms began shouting for my attention and pulling at my marketing emotions. It was a crazy time.

I began to feel like everybody who was anybody was on these platforms and I needed to be too. At the time I believe Greenline Creative and myself had a profile on pretty much anything that was relevant or would possibly generate some type of awareness for my brands. It was crazy! I had numerous blogs, social profiles and spent many hours trying to keep everything up to date on my “current status.” I would spend hours on this a week. I was not alone. Many people did and weird hacks began to surface that would claim to automate my posts using Google Alerts and some type of weird integration with Facebook and Twitter. At first I felt like I was free from the grip until I began getting feedback about posts that had zero relevancy to anything design. For months I was in this endless cycle of trying to keep everything up to date in order to “market myself online” effectively.

This early way of marketing myself online was all I did. I’d join a platform use it for awhile and if it became too much to handle, I’d then quit the platform. Nothing about this process was effective at all. I was constantly cleaning out my inbox of spam, thinking of new things to post and all of this would bleed into me actually getting work done efficiently. So when did it end?

I can’t really recall a moment when I quit focusing on trying to be everywhere online. But I’d like to think perhaps I just got way too busy to manage all the accounts and started to focus only on the accounts that were generating an immediate ROI. Or maybe just the ones that fit with my workflow? It was a long and hard lesson learned, but it turns out through trying it all I’ve come up with a pretty solid way to manage and focus on my online social media presence, not just for myself, but for Greenline and even Frettie. Like all processes you’ll need to adapt them to your goals, but below are some things to consider.

What I’ve Learned about Managing My Online Web Presence.  

  • Focus on what’s easy: As you can tell from my experience, it’s easy to feel like if you post on every major social media platform you’ll get a much higher ROI. That is simply not true. Focus on only the platforms that work for you. They may not be the same as mine. That’s okay. The important thing is to choose platforms you can engage with on a regular basis and that fit seamlessly into your workflow and life. For me, Instagram doesn’t work, but for others it does. I’m okay with that.
  • Use tools to make things easy for you: I think people put too much emphasis on this idea that everything has to be organic and in real time. You simply can’t focus on your craft and also focus on creating great posts every day. Spend some time automating or using tools that help schedule your posts. My go-to for this is Buffer. However, similar and comparable services like Edgar from LKR Social Media are popping up every day. The important thing is to focus on  the balance of automation and real posts. With the right balance I find that most of my time on Twitter, Facebook, etc. is spent primarily on managing connections vs. creating content.
  • Keep your accounts updated: Nothing is worse then an inactive account on an online platform. I’ll admit that I’m not perfect, but try to be aware of how long it’s been since you’ve posted something. If it’s been awhile, either let your audience know that you no longer use this account and direct them away from it, find a way to automate it, or simply delete it. A dead account always raises questions around if a company or person is still activily designing and if they’ll even have time to work on any new projects.
  • Know that anything you post is forever: Maybe a no brainer here, but know that anything you post online is forever. So make sure it’s meaningful and done in good taste. I’m all in favor of having an opinion online, but be aware that someone is on the other end of your feedback, opinion or the website you’re criticizing. The truth is people will see this type of activity and will judge it one way or the other. Be nice and post with good intention and you’ll get great things in return.
  • Focus on making meaningful connections: It’s really easy to just focus on posting and sharing things, but try to be meaningful. Being online is a two way street. If you feel like you’re not getting feedback on Dribbble or gaining followers on Twitter, ask yourself, “How am I using the platform?” Are you just posting to post or are you posting to build relationships, reach your audience and make meaningful connections? Are you posting regularly? Something to also think about is your avatar and bio. If you’re using something new for each site, you make it difficult to build consistency and relationships because we simply don’t know who we’re talking to. Another tip is to try and use a real photo of yourself vs. a logo if you can. It does help in building trust and realizing that there really is another person on the other end of the conversation.
  • If you don’t have a blog create one: I’m going to be completely honest. I’ve tried so many social media platforms and often times don’t get much of a ROI back. I pretty much view them really as support to
    everything else I’m working on. The biggest ROI I’ve ever had is through a blog. Particularly this blog. Since I’ve been focusing on this blog on a regular basis, I’ve been very fortunate to have a number of great opportunities come out of it. From job offers, speaking gigs, interviews and just new faces that I would’ve never met otherwise. So, if you’re wondering how to reach a new audience or open up opportunity for yourself take a second to commit to a blog strategy and get writing regularly.
  • Build an audience: When it comes to your online web presence, consider trying to build an audience. What are your goals? Maybe it’s just to improve your awareness online, but you may want to think bigger. Whenever you start sharing your insight across the web you’ll have an audience on the other end. How are you captivating and keeping in touch with that audience? Is it through email, Twitter? It’s a great feeling to be able to reach out to your audience online, and it’s an even greater feeling to know the audience can become as large as you’d like it.

My Takeaway:

It can be scary to put yourself online. Every week when I click send on a new lesson there’s a slight delay in my finger. I’m never sure as to the reaction a new lesson will get. Will people like it? Will they not? I’m never sure, but I know I can’t hide from this new way of communicating. I just have to learn to embrace it, learn from it and most importantly tame it and control it.

I used to think a successful online strategy was to focus on all the platforms and be everywhere. I wanted my logo to show up all over the web. Boy was I wrong. Today I focus on just a small handful of places online. They are the few that either I can schedule or seamlessly fit into my workflow. Through trying and failing I’ve fallen on to a format that works and still allows me to get my work done.

The system is simple. At this time I focus  primarily on these accounts; My website, blog, Twitter, Facebook (Fan Page), LinkedIn, Medium and Dribbble. I use Buffer and an RSS reader to gather content. I then distribute that content through scheduled posts on Buffer, and through email marketing which is managed through ConvertKit. I then just sit back and manage the engagement.

Sure this takes time. Everything worth doing takes time, but it’s still far simpler than what I used to do, and to be honest, it’s far more effective. The great thing about simplicity is it forces you to focus and leverage strengths. By me keeping my online web presence simple I have time to focus on creating great work and content to share with my audience and clients. I’m also able to create a system that allows me to post regularly, and regularity is the key to an effective online web presence.

Communication is important to me, so I’d love to continue the conversation with you all. What does your online social media presence look like?

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