Image by spwelton, via Flickr
In her guest post last week, Grace made some excellent points about content that happens outside your blog. Whether you spend time on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, Instagram, Sulia, or all of the above, it’s all content.
And when you start thinking this globally about your content, you start realizing that, holy crap, you’re responsible for a great, big, complex online presence, aren’t you?!
Grace offered up some great suggestions for documenting and streamlining your content-creating workflow. And now I want to add another layer to to that idea: maybe all your online content doesn’t have to be strategic.
Image by massdistraction, via Flickr
The thing is, many of us end up with lots of homes on the web – we’re always trying out this thing or that one. But we use online tools for many different reasons, don’t we?
I, for example, love me some Twitter, and I’m on there every day. I also have a Facebook page, but I only visit it when I absolutely have to. I put a lot of effort into Sulia, but my Ravelry account is a seldom-visited holding pen for patterns I might want to make someday. You probably have your own favorites, have-tos, and play spaces online.
Each of my online homes is fun to use in its own context. But if I tried to turn every one of them into a driver for my business, I would quickly kill a lot of my fun – not to mention, saddle me with too many hours of online keeping-up time.
Luckily, you get to decide which of your online activities will be included in the strategic part of your content.
So, let’s make a map of your online presence.
As Grace suggested in her post, a good starting point is listing out all your online activity. Since I’m a fairly visual person, I’ve found it helpful to make that list visual, like you see above. I just downloaded a bunch of logos from Google Image searches, and then plopped them into a page layout document on my computer. You can do the same, or alternatively, you could sketch out your online presence on a piece of paper. Just include every single online thing you spend time on.
When you can see your whole online presence at once like this, you begin to realize that what you really have is an ecosystem. Ideally, each online space you spend time in feeds something important for you – and in turn, you “feed” it back with content, or participation.
Conventional wisdom says that everything you do online should link to everything else, but should it really? Maybe you have some online channels where you share your mission-critical message, and other channels that are just for you, and just for play. So maybe your message can become more coherent if you start sorting your online presences.
So, for example, if we were to look at all my online stuff through that lens, we might see this:
If my email newsletter shares extra tips and tricks related to things on my blog, then it makes sense to link them to each other. If I use Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook to tell stories related to my online classes and publishing, then it makes sense for these things to link to each other and to my blog, so people coming in through any of these places can get to other useful places.
…But if I mostly share nerdy links about video games and such on Google+, do I really need to link to my Google+ account from my blog? Or, if I use my Ravelry account primarily as a container for patterns, is that really information a visitor to my blog needs?
Try putting your various online presences into these two piles, and see what you find out. How might you adjust the way these things link to each other?
Let’s add another layer to that…
If you’re trying to decide which of your online presences makes the most sense to spend time on, then it’s helpful to make a handy graph like this. On the vertical axis, you rate how much your various online presences actually relate to your overall business or mission. And on the horizontal axis, you rate how much you actually like or dislike using them.
What emerges is a pretty darn clear picture of the best places to allocate your online time. (Hint: it’s that upper right quadrant, Baby!)
…And what also emerges are some strategic opportunities. When I made this graph, I noticed how many things I do online because I like them, but which don’t actually carry my mission-critical messages. So what might I do with this information?
- If I want to be spending my online more effectively for marketing, I now know which online presences I might want to relegate to weekend-only use so I can free up more time for the mission-critical ones.
- If I want to broaden my marketing online, I might look more closely at the channels that are approaching that mid-way line, like Sulia or Flickr. How can I begin injecting my mission-critical ideas into them more regularly so they become better marketing channels?
If you’re not sure what your mission-critical message is…
As we keep saying in this series, the key piece of your content strategy is knowing what, specifically, you want people to know about you.
It’s tempting to say, “I want people to know I sell knitting patterns” (or whatever you sell). But in reality, the fact that you sell things is, in itself, a bit dull. In fact, what you want people to know is WHY your product is different or better or more interesting than others. You want to boil your uniqueness down to some concrete ideas you can portray again and again through your online channels.
This workbook, Crafting an Effective Blog, walks you through a series of worksheets that help you arrive at these concrete ideas. It’s really a helpful process that leads to better online marketing. Go check it out!