05/05/2008

So you're not an internet marketer? Think again.

When you think of internet marketing you conjure up images of consultants giving SEO advice or in house designers planning a new web advertising campaign. The average person therefore thinks "what has internet marketing got to do with me?"

The truth of the matter is that anyone with an online presence - even if they are not a marketing professional - is to some extent an internet marketer and, as such, should take some time to learn a few ways that we can use the web to help manage and promote our identity.

Who is an internet marketer?

As I said, anyone with an online presence is effectively an internet marketer - it's all a matter of scale. Just because you are not performing SEO for a large organisation doesn't mean you can't leverage the web to your advantage. Rather than promoting a company or product you are promoting yourself in order to give the best impression that you can. As I said in my post 'Stand out from the social crowd' you are selling you so must make the most of it. No-one else is going to do it for you unless you are very lucky.

Whether you are a blogger, a user of social media, have a LinkedInprofile or upload your details and CV to a job search website you should be making use of the principals of internet marketing to bolster your personal brand. 

The key is to monitor your online reputation. In order to understand how someone may perceive you it is imperative that you know what's out there. What have you posted on the web? What are others saying about you? Could there be any potential problems due to someone with the same name having a bad name?

Manage your reputation

Start with a simple search on Google, see how well you feature in the results and what information sources have been flagged. This gives you the opportunity to respond to what people are saying about you - positive or negative. It will not look good, for example, if a prospective employer does some background research and you are both unaware of what they find and consequently have no response.

Make connections and build relationships with your peers, give them a reason to say complimentary things and you are half way there. Set up some Google alerts to notify you in real time of any new reference to your name or web address. Show that you are on the ball and, if necessary, be the first to react to any mention you may get good or bad.

While your at it perform a search on your social networking services to track conversations. See who has been talking to you using something like Tweetscan for Twitter. Have you missed something important whilst offline? Has anyone said anything that could give a wrong impression or are they waiting for an answer and may be upset if one is not forthcoming? Try not to miss a trick; any answer is better late than never - people understand that you have a life away from the web so apologize for the delay and give them what they want.

Expectations

Not only in business, expectations are vital for creating the right impression. We hear the phrase "under promise and over deliver" time and again but usually fail to live by it. Expectations must be managed correctly so always try to aim above the mark - if necessary set the target lower than you know you can achieve so that you will always appear to be doing more. It is pointless promising the earth when you know you are unable to deliver, you will just develop a reputation as being unreliable and ineffective.

Be realistic

The internet is a vast place and is growing all the time so we cannot possibly hope to control everything that is said or written about us but we can make an effort to understand how others see us. The similarities between life both on and offline are stronger than most people think and you should therefore treat any interaction online just as you would a face-to-face meeting. You may not get a punch in the face but a bad reputation may come back to haunt you at a later date.

Your turn

What do you do to monitor your online reputation? How do you create a positive impression?

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog