You keep hearing that you need to establish an online presence in order to promote yourself, right? This is absolutely true, and while it might seem that there are no rules and that anything goes out there in the insanity that is the cyber world, I think there are some things that you should avoid.
This post is about what not to do while you’re out there trying to pimp yourself on the internet. Don’t…
- Take things personally. Understand that when you post things online, your potential audience is enormous. It’s unlikely that everyone will agree with you all the time. Sure, you can engage in intelligent conversation and debate, and in fact this is strongly encouraged, but be aware that there is very a fine line between enthusiastically disagreeing and becoming angry or antagonistic.The latter is unprofessional.
- Announce your numbers. No offense, but I really don’t give a rat’s ass how many fans or followers you have and neither does anyone else. Yes, yes, I know that oftentimes FB giveaways and the like are predicated on your fan page making it to the big 500, etc. I also know that in the desperate scramble for something to post, this seems easy and it’s so tempting. Stop doing it. I can think of a thousand better reasons to give something away. It’s Tuesday. The sun is shining. Just because you want to. All of these are better reasons than making promotions or giveaways hinge on your numbers. In fact, I will go so far as to suggest that all of us should be focusing much less on our numbers and far more on engaging with our existing fans and producing useful content.
- Assume some contacts are better than others. Networking is a fabulous and mysterious creature. Don’t make the mistake of judging any interaction as “good” or “bad” based on stereotypes or incorrect assumptions. I deem all interactions on my page (and in real life as well) as super freaking fantastic and so should you. Anytime a person takes the time to visit your sites, you should be flattered right out of your boots, and if they go really crazy and like, share, or comment on your posts, you should be doing a happy dance. Don’t worry about if you sold anything to them. Don’t worry about if you will ever sell anything to them. Understand that people have no shortage of things vying for their attention, and just getting people to your site is a tremendous accomplishment. Revel in it and then nurture those contacts. Every single one of them is a real person and is valuable. They may change your life by encouraging you or causing you to think outside of the box. They may lurk and never do anything terrific on your page. They may share your page and eventually lead to a sale or a new connection. They may actually buy your book (settle down over there, crazier things have happened). The point is you don’t know, so you should treat every single contact as a VIP.
- Steal content. This is just bad form and in some situations, it’s illegal. Of course it’s fine to re-post and share the work of others. That’s a huge part of this whole networking thing. But be very careful to give credit where credit is due and ask for permission if you are at all uncertain.
- Constantly toot your own horn. Yes, I know it’s your platform and it should be centered around you, you, you, but take my word for it – if you constantly post sales links and rarely interact with others, you’re whistling into the wind. Chances are, no one is even listening any more. I know you want to sell your stuff, but this is the tough part. This is where so many people fail. You need to cultivate relationships, not become the cyber equivalent of a door-to-door salesman at dinnertime.
- Publish poorly edited work. This is self-explanatory. It reflects poorly on you and your business when you publish things with errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Typos slip by even the best of us, and if you’re producing a lot of work, the odds of missing a mistake increase, but do try.
- Be negative. Nobody likes complaining or whining. Life is hard enough. Try to be the bright spot in someone’s day. Aim for uplifting and encouraging.
- Try to promote a business using a personal profile. This applies to all venues, but especially Facebook. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. FB pages are free and are so much better suited for a business. If you’re using your personal profile, you are requiring people to send you a friend request in order to interact with you. If you are doing this, stop immediately. I guarantee that you lose many potential fans because of this. It also becomes problematic if you decide to participate in Adsense or other promotion and affiliate programs because the whole process gets convoluted. More on this in a later post, but suffice it to say – it is prohibited for your friends and family to click your ad links. Adsense has bots which can detect term violations, and if you have customers/clients on your personal profile, it can appear as if you are in violation. Take my word for it – if you don’t have a FB page, stop reading right this second and go create one.
- Expect immediate results. This is a big one. I should have placed this one first, or maybe just written about this one all by itself. Promoting your work using networking via social media is not fast and it’s not easy. Why? It requires a constant, consistent push. On top of that, everything is constantly changing, and so must your approach if you want to to keep up. Finally, if you don’t offer genuine, useful content, you’re dead in the water. It takes time and intention to build a strong platform.
A quick reminder that I’ll be leading a workshop at Southwest Writers in August. It’s called The Basics of Building a Social Media Platform and it will be jam packed with good, practical information to help you get up and running in the cyber world. I’m working on the syllabus and will post it to my website soon.
We’re also writing and reading up a storm over at More Ink. I’d love for you to join us!