Change Is Constant: Tweaking Your Online Presence

“Wait five minutes, and things will change.”

We’ve all heard that old saw when it comes to the weather. (When I lived in Central New York, it usually meant snow.) When creating and distributing content, this is good news.

Dog's fur blowing in the windLet’s face it. We work really hard to create content. We put it out there and feel proud of what we have accomplished.

Then reality strikes. Things aren’t working out quite the way we expected them to. Now what?

Change, we need to change things.

Adaptability is not only important in the modern electronic age, it is imperative. Luckily, it’s also a lot easier than it has ever been before.

Think about it. Fifty years ago, if you came up with a marketing campaign, it involved a lot of printing. It might even mean radio and television advertising. This took a long time. Once things got started, it was tough – and very expensive – to change.

Today, we can change our message in a snap. Even photos and videos can go from idea to published product in a matter of minutes.

But we have to be careful. We shouldn’t just change things for change’s sake. As with everything, we need to have a reason and some sort of plan.

  • Start with a goal in mind. What is it you are trying to accomplish?
  • Decide what criteria mean success.
  • Have patience. Some things take longer and need some time to get established.
  • Analyze why the current method isn’t working.
  • Develop alternative methods that might work better.
  • Implement the best alternatives.
  • Evaluate whether the change is working.
  • Start the process over.

Even if we’re satisfied with the way things are going, we still need a periodic assessment. A quarterly review of your online presence is always a good idea.

Don’t be afraid to revise what you have online. Most of the time it’s not a major overhaul; often it’s just some judicious maintenance.

Next Week: The series ends with Ways to Nurture Your Online Presence.


The Meat Is in the Content

It sits before ybeefless burger bunou with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and ketchup spilling out of the sides. Mouth watering, you bring the loaded bun to your mouth and take a giant bite.  Shocked, you realize — there’s no meat!

This hamburger lover’s nightmare is like visiting a web site or reading a blog that doesn’t have the information you’re looking for. When it comes to our online presence, we don’t want to leave visitors asking that famous advertising slogan, “Where’s the beef?!”

We’ve already talked about knowing who we want to reach and how to use (and not use) headlines to entice people into our content. However, it is imperative that the content be good, solid, and (dare I say it?) meaty to satisfy what our visitors require and what we want to say about ourselves. (Notice who is first in that sentence?)

Basic information – name, contact information, background – are vital to any site but should not be the main focus. An “about page” and header and footer areas are more than enough to handle this. It is important to make sure the visitor has easy access – one click of the mouse at most. We all know how frustrating it is to have to hunt for information. Make sure an email address has a clickable link. Even phone numbers can be set up for automatic dialing.

The tenderloin of the content should be offering what our audience needs. For instance, if you are a cleaning service, maybe you could provide hints on how to clean with environmentally friendly products (maybe that is something that sets you apart from other services). You may even give tips on why and how to hire a cleaning service.

If you just published a fantasy fiction e-book, your author’s Facebook page could discuss the political background of the world you’ve created or even character motivations – details you may not have included in your book but could make the readers’ experience richer if they knew them.

We’re all consumers of something. The trick is to ask ourselves, “If I was looking for more information about me, what would I need and want to know?”

Here are topics we need to address in our content to make it more successful:

  • Why would someone visit my site?
  • What do they need or want to know?
  • What information can I provide to satisfy these needs or wants?
  • How can I make it easy for a visitor to seek more information?
  • What fresh information can I offer?
  • What can I include to establish a relationship with that visitor?
  • How can I make sure they are satisfied with their experience on my site and will come back?

One very important step in building our content “burger” is cleaning up grammar and usage. Making mechanical errors in our writing is like biting into a juicy burger and finding gristle or bone. Yuck! Who wants to try another bite of that no matter how attractive the burger looks? Not me!

The bottom line is that we have to provide substance that satisfies our visitors and makes them want more.

Next week: Garnishing Content with Design