Whether you’re looking for a job, building your client base or networking with other recent college grads, it’s more important than ever to have an online presence, to build your own personal brand. Web 2.0 changed the way companies interact with their customers.
Advertising went from being a one-way communication model to an interactive phenomenon. Web sites gave customers instant access to companies and enabled them to communicate directly through e-mail, blog comments and more.
Then, everything started going viral, which is just a 21st century way of describing word-of-mouth advertising, only now it’s click-of-mouse advertising.
Trends would spike and then fall by the wayside like an ocean of humanity doing “The Wave” at a sporting event. And if you’re company, brand, product, whatever, wasn’t engaging directly with customers, you could wind up washed up on the shore like a dried-up starfish as the wave receded back into the ocean.
Don’t Get Stranded On Dry Land
Don’t let that happen to you. With all the free resources available and advances in technology, there is no longer any excuse for not being on the Web. Even if you don’t know anything about Web hosting or html, computer geeks have made it ridiculously easy to create your own Web site.
Practically all you have to do is provide some pictures and content, and even that can be downloaded from article directories and stock photo sites.
The Web Expands Your Horizons
Wider audience. The advantages of having an online presence are many-fold. For starters, you suddenly have access to a worldwide audience. For instance, a specialty watch shop no longer has to cater only to local customers; a Web site enables the business owner to market to a much larger audience.
Levels The Playing Field
In many ways, the Web acts as The Great Equalizer. With a nimble marketing plan, including blockbuster search engine optimization strategies, and a strong, responsive social media presence, small businesses can rank higher than giant corporations in search engines such as Google, which translates into greater online “visibility”, and, potentially, more sales.
With all the search and analysis tools available on the Web, it’s easier than ever to track what kind of effect your Web site or blog are having. With programs like Google Analytics or Woopra, you can install a tiny piece of html code into your Web pages and get back all kinds of useful data about how many visitors you’re getting on your Web pages, how long they stay and what links they click on.
Google Alerts enables you to see what people are saying about you or your company. Simply set up an alert for your name, and the program will e-mail you, based on your preferences, whenever your name or business’s name comes up on the Web.
Social Networking Sites A Branding Mecca
With the phenomenal growth of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there have never been more opportunities to build a solid online reputation than now. People are communicating “in real time” with one another on a variety of venues: Sites such as Wetpaint and Ning enable people with similar interests to connect and share what they know.
The Internet has expanded exponentially since its humble beginnings, bringing the world closer together. Don’t let the wave of technology leave you stranded on the beach. Jump in with both feet and start swimming. The water’s fine.