How Should I Promote My New Website?

Author’s Note: You can find yesterday’s #Blog365 contribution over on Central Florida Top 5. I got to cover the arrival of the Mummies of the World exhibit at the Orlando Science Center!

One of our clients recently launched a new website (through another company). Since we’ve been consulting on their social media efforts, the first question they had after launch was a logical one: How do I promote my new website so I can get the most value from it?

As I’ve mentioned before, most websites launch with no fanfare. The only sound is the crickets chirping and the keyboard clacking.

But websites are a lot of work, and you should make sure you have a promotions plan taking shape so that your efforts do not go unnoticed.

The best route for doing so is always going to be specific to the business itself, but the options range widely.

You could celebrate with an event of some kind: a launch party, if you have the budget, or a Google Hangout on Air or similar live streaming event if you want to keep it all online.

You could put the word out in your email newsletter, inviting your subscribers to visit and explore and provide feedback.

And of course you can tweet it out, post on Facebook, and generally notify all your social platforms.

This kind of stuff is a given. And it should all be done soon after the website is launched. But the really meaningful parts usually start after the first announcement.

Hopefully, your website was built to be more than just a billboard. Your website design company should have asked you about the long-term marketing features to be built in to the site — things like a blog or a newsletter sign-up.

Ultimately, the best way to promote your new website has little or nothing to do with what you do right after launch. Although a short-term spike in traffic is nice, it’s your long term growth and commitments which matter far more.

Use your new website as a reason to motivate yourself toward implementing an ongoing content marketing routine, or approach an experienced SEO professional about how to start building your website’s presence in search. Start sending out that newsletter on a monthly basis, or launch that YouTube series. Whatever is the most valuable proposition for you.

Websites can be billboards, or they can be marketing tools. But either way, promoting them effectively for the long haul demands more than just a “New site is live!” tweet.

Should I Be On Every Social Network?

Today I was on a call with a prospective client, the executive director of an organization that is just looking beyond its first baby steps into the digital marketing world.

As we talked through our process for building a comprehensive brand strategy and online community, he remarked several times that it felt like entering a whole new world.

Even having been in this world for years now, I know what he means. Stepping into social media, blogging, newsletters, and so on can seem daunting to someone experiencing it for the first time — much like an international environment where you don’t speak the language.

With that combined sense of uncertainty and discovery, it is no wonder that the new user can fall easily into the zone of following every shiny object that pops up online. After all, that’s what so many of the people who “do it right” seem to do… right?

It’s true that many of the recognized social media industry leaders will jockey for invitations every time a new social network comes out. There are lots of reasons for that — the most altruistic being that they want to go there to report on its role in the overall social ecosystem and its potential value for other users.

The truth, though, is that most of the best social media leaders actually have favorite platforms that they frequent above all others. They may have a profile everywhere, and they may release posts regularly everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they are paying close attention to it. They could be — but it’s not guaranteed.

No matter how many social networks you sign up for, you are likely to always have some that perform more strongly than others, or where you feel your strengths shine. When you are a busy small business owner, this is even more important. You’ve got to be more strategic in making your choices; simply signing up for a social network because every else is, may not be the right answer for your success.

Social media truly is a different language. If you are taking the time to learn to speak it, investing the energy in identifying which social networks could help you succeed can save you hours of time and dollars of expense, and yield far better returns than a purely scattershot approach.

Otherwise, you may find yourself overwhelmed with content and underwhelmed by your results.

Beards, Buzz, and Community Building On the Internet

They say you learn something new every day.

Today, I learned about the existence of the Orlando Facial Hair Club:

The Orlando Facial Hair Club social media community building example

A community of people organized specifically around appreciation for mustaches and beards… featuring products and beard-related content and meet-ups of bearded (and beard-loving) people.

Notice that little number down in the corner. Their Facebook supporters number over a thousand strong. 

When I found out about this club, I couldn’t help but wonder — could this kind of group have existed without the Internet?

An admittedly quick Google search yielded little information. There are similar clubs throughout the United States, even an annual World Beard and Mustache Championship. And, as best I can tell, all of them have popped up since the rise of the Internet (and most since the rise of social media).

Community Building with Niche Interests on Social Media

Last week Greg asked me (somewhat rhetorically) how people made new friends before the Internet.

But I thought about it seriously, and concluded that, in my view, it seemed like the majority of communities prior to the Internet were contingent on a location, an activity, or both. (Think of churches, exercise classes, sports teams, and things like that.)

The Internet, though, is a wild woolly public forum for ideas and passions of all varieties. Social media buzzes with content of all kinds, putting a spotlight on the day to day, even inane, passions of our daily lives — things like food, movies, music, books, beer, even beards.

And because our online forums can be tailored for local use, we can move those conversations from where they start on the Internet, and take them offline — or make offline communities stronger by supplementing them online. We can pursue our passions together, offline, and geek out about them and share them with other people online.

It’s a beautiful thing.

(Personally, I’m grateful because I believe that the same phenomenon is fueling the rise of nerd-friendly gaming pubs in my area. But that’s another article for another time.)

Community building got a lot easier — and the potential audience got a lot larger — when it moved online. However inane the topic may seem, there are other people out there who care about it. And sometimes it’s the small passions that bring us together in the most powerful ways.

What are your favorite niche online communities? What offline or online communities have enriched your life the most?

Lesson #9 – Why Wireframes Matter

A wireframe is to a website design as a stick figure sketch is to a portrait.

In practice, it only reflects the bare bones of the site… the essential big-picture details.

In reality, it is your opportunity to plan.

It’s the first moment when the architect of the website sits down to visualize the flow of the site.

It’s the minute when they step into the shoes of the end user, imagining what they might need or want to find.

In the end, you create the structure that will be filled in to make something beautiful. Something useful. Something enjoyable.

With wireframes, you can get a sense for where the site is going, and give the client the chance to provide feedback early on. Rather than sinking hours of effort into a beautiful design, the wireframe is the architect’s opportunity to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks — what really works for the project.

It’s an exciting process, full of opportunity and exploration. Whether you use a sketchbook, a grid lined sketchpad, or software, your wireframe is your first chance to open the door to a creative and user-centered website experience.

#Blog365 Update – My First “Skip Day”

Well, it was bound to happen eventually.

I made it through 148 days of my #Blog365 project without missing a single post. Yes, some of them (many of them) have been posted late at night. One post was even written from a chair at a bar on my phone. But I always made it.

Then last night I went out to the movies, and thanks to an unexpectedly sold-out show which threw off my schedule for the evening, I missed my window to post yesterday.

In case you’re wondering, I’m making it up by posting twice today — this blog post, in addition to an article on LinkedIn about how to escape your email inbox overload (take a peek if you often find yourself in that boat too).

But missing my first post does give me a reason to pause and consider what my first “skip day” means for this project. Specifically, the question is…

Am I burning myself out on blogging?

Since this year began, I’ve had cause to say many times that I do not recommend the “blogging every day” route for most people.

Frankly, unless your primary responsibilities are blogging and maybe consulting, I don’t recommend it for anyone.

The truth is, when you’re doing it right, blogging every day is not just blogging. It’s about making graphics and taking pictures. It’s about research and editing. It’s about search optimizing and enthusiastic social sharing. It’s actually a lot of work. And if you don’t put that effort in, your writing efforts are probably in vain.

I started this project in hopes of re-energizing my writing discipline and my creativity. At this stage, it feels as though I have certainly gotten more disciplined, but not necessarily more creative. My mind is tired and I often feel the need for more creative input than I can absorb on a regular basis.

Make no mistake, I plan to see this year through. I am hoping this is just the “sophomore slump” phase before I can get re-energized to start churning out higher quality content. But right now it looks like 2016 will probably see me back at the far more sane once-per-week posting schedule. Compared to producing 365 posts, 52 articles sounds like a breeze.

On days when your well is running dry, how do you invigorate your own creativity?

Lesson #8 – Why do you post on social media?

Sometimes when you are scrolling through your social media feed, looking at photos of shoes or food or selfies, it becomes easy to wonder why people feel the need to post all these things.

It’s a fair question. And diving into all the deep psychological rationales behind social media posting activity is certainly the stuff of a book, not a blog post

That being said, from my perception, people ultimately make posts for reasons which are either internally driven or externally driven.

An externally driven person is relatively easy to recognize — they are usually posting things that are aimed at getting people to talk to you. They talk about events coming up, the things they do, the activities they are involved in either online or in their offline communities. They want to know about what you are up to as well

The objective of an externally driven person is engagement — especially comments. Some of them have figured out how to get paid for whatever they are talking about and others haven’t… but at the end of the day, they’re all looking for conversation and they hope you like a post, share it, or (most often).

An internally driven person, on the other hand, can be recognized by content that is typically focused on expressing their own feelings and thoughts and random moments. This could range from selfies and food photos to vague complaints and rants.

The objective of an internally driven person is to broadcast. While they may care about the personal validation that comes from comments, most of the time they are not trying to get anything from social media. At times it often looks more like a daily diary than anything else. Ultimately, they are interested in saying what they want to say, and in most cases do not care about whether it gets results or not.

On a basic level, both motivations for posting on social media are perfectly valid. And lots of people combine a little bit of both approaches. However, when it comes to getting marketing results, external motivations usually win the day with potential audience members.