Don’t Hide! 7 Tips for Embracing Our Digital Future
I met with a client recently to review some of her company’s digital and social activity. A veteran of a long and successful career in marketing and PR, my client has struggled to accept the value of social networking for business.
She expressed concern about exposing herself and her business to the trolls of the Internet and wondered how she could possibly manage to add another activity to her already busy schedule.
I understand. I told her that. We’re about the same age so I get it. I too find it challenging to stay on top of the social networking and blogging I do for my business. Not to mention trying to stay abreast of the constantly changing technology we use in today’s digital marketing and PR.
But I do it.
And I love it.
I told her she had no choice but to learn how to use the tools of social media. Her clients will be looking to her for counsel on how to use these same tools for their businesses. Marketing and PR people are supposed to not only understand how the new stuff works and why it matters, but as importantly, how the new stuff integrates with the old stuff—and why.
If she doesn’t learn this, and understand where it may provide benefits for her clients, she’ll be left behind. Her client base, mostly B2B and educational organizations, may not be ready to embrace social media and digital today. They will sit up and start asking about it some day soon, and when that day comes, she’ll need to at least understand enough to speak intelligently and offer good advice.
So where should she start?
It sounds facetious to answer, “At the beginning.” And yet, that’s the truth. The irony being that under other circumstances a marketing or PR professional with her experience would know exactly how to answer that question.
For some reason, the idea of social and digital clouds the issue and utterly confuses people. Yet, this is all very simple. Not always easy, not without risk and certainly not always fast. But it is simple.
1. Embrace Our Digital Future.
Don’t fight it and don’t ignore it. We are living in the middle of a revolution in how information is obtained, shared and even sold. Our professional lives increasingly depend on showing a certain level of proficiency in the use of digital tools.
In the same way that we’ve mastered other professional skills and employed them in our careers, we must develop proficiency in many of these. Even those of us who are of “a certain age.” Perhaps, especially since we have the advantage of life and work experience and a solid understanding of traditional marketing and PR tactics.
2. Do a Social Media Audit—For Yourself and Your Company.
Do a social media audit. Where do you show up online now? How do you show up online? Is your online presence in sync with your offline presence and in line with your professional reputation? Does your business show to advantage? What are the competitors in your industry doing online? Where are your customers spending time online? What are they doing? No sense spending time on Facebook if your clients and competitors are using LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube.
3. Evaluate Your Resources
Be realistic. You will need to find time to learn, time to develop a strategy for yourself, and for your business, and time to execute. Some of the work can be delegated to employees or outsourced to contract workers. Some of this will fall on you directly.
Look at your financial resources. What can you afford to spend for training and coaching? What can you budget for staffing an online initiative?
4. Identify Your Goals and Objectives
What do you need to accomplish online? Do you need to build out an online presence? Or, begin to monitor your reputation and those of your clients and your firm? Are you hoping to stand out from your competitors? Or, do you need to repair existing damage? As in any other marketing or public relations campaign, the goals and objectives are key.
5. Learn How to Use the Tools
Now you need to learn how to operate online and use the social networks and digital tools. You don’t necessarily have to become an expert. At the very least, you do need to understand the differences between the networks and their audiences. You will find many of the tools available today helpful in making the best use of your time.
Depending on your learning preferences and schedules, you may look for online resources to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Or, you may prefer to work one-on-one with a coach or trainer. There are so many excellent books available to help you understand the how’s and why’s of all of this. Read them.
You may choose to attend some of the many conferences and events designed to provide exactly the kind of information you need. You will know what works best for you. Just do it.
6. Develop Your Strategy
Once you have a better understanding of how things work online, what you want to accomplish, how your business shows up online, where your customers and prospects hang out, and what your competitors are doing, you can develop your own strategy and decide how to execute.
This can be as simple and straight forward as building out and updating a LinkedIn profile and company page to developing and maintaining a blog, video blog(vlog), podcast series, multiple social network profiles—and more. The sky’s the limit. And there are no right answers. Your strategy needs to fit your goals and objectives and available resources.
7. Get Started
For those of use of a “certain age,” there’s no excuse. When we stand firm in our refusal to learn how to use new technologies, we cut off our access to whole worlds. And, for those of us who are in the workforce? We lessen our value to our clients, colleagues or employers.
And my client? She has followed this set of steps and has begun working with her business to build out their online presence. She isn’t blogging yet, and may never blog, but she is much more comfortable in using several of the social networks that relate to her business and reports that she is feeling a sense of relief and even excitement about her own digital future.
Don’t put it off any longer. Don’t be afraid of coming out from behind the clients or employer you work for. Just get started. One step at a time. Take that strategy and put it to work for you. Embrace our digital future. The rewards are magnificent. And, we can’t wait to see you out there with the rest of us!
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