Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Establishing Your Online Presence Without Social Media

Whether you are ready to leap into the world of social media or not, people are already talking about you online—and they may not be saying what you want them to say about you. It might not be that they are saying bad things; they just might not be saying what you want them to. By establishing your presence online you are able to influence what people are saying about you, by framing who you are and what your business can do for others.

There are two types of online profiles. In previous posts we discussed interactive profiles (aka social media) and the basic elements of an online profile. This post discusses non-interactive profiles (aka static profiles), places for one way sharing of information; you talk and your audience listens.

Some static profiles to consider are:
  • Online Business Directories: These are like listings in the phone book except they are online. Many postings are free and many sites may already post your information from what they can find out about you on the Internet. Start by doing an online search for your name and see what comes up. If you find yourself or business listed then you can then “claim” your profile and update your information. You can also create a profile on other popular business profile sites. Take a look at YellowPages, Goldbook, Hotfrog, Manta, CanPages, and ZoomInfo. Also take a look at listings that professional associations you are affiliated with may have. Be sure to record your login information for posting updates. As well, make note of the sites that have interactive features such as reviews and recommendations. You can encourage your happy customers to recommend your business for other customers to read. 
  • Website: A static website is a traditional website that posts company information and/or articles. It may or may not be updated frequently and differs from a blog in that it does not include any interactive functionality for engaging your customers—although some static websites do link to a blog hosted on another platform or other social media sites such as Facebook.
Social media profiles take time to maintain on a daily basis, but static profiles take time to set up initially, and then require maintenance only when something changes about you or your business. I recommend setting up profiles on as many free static sites as you can so your customers can easily find out what you have to say about your business wherever they look.

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

7 Social Media Sites For Building Your Online Presence

Establishing your online presence is essential to influencing what others are saying about you on the internet. Previously we discussed the basic elements of an online profile. Now we’re going to move into the types of profiles to consider: interactive and non-interactive. Interactive profiles are built on Web 2.0 technology and are often referred to as “social media.” These are platforms for you to interact with your target audience, virtual meeting places for people to get to know each other.

Some popular social media sites to consider are:
  1. Facebook: A platform for sharing information of a personal nature on your Facebook Profile or business nature on your Facebook Page. Pages are great for sharing tips, articles, videos, promotions, and other valuable information. It’s also a great place to ask questions, post polls, and get feedback from customers that you can incorporate into strengthening your company. It is the most widely used social media platform in the world. 
  2. LinkedIn: A platform targeted to professionals for sharing portfolios and resumes virtually. It has a unique area on the profile for your contacts to leave recommendations of your work for others to read. You can also join or start LinkedIn discussion groups where you can share your expertise. 
  3. Twitter: Twitter is a networking platform that allows you to share your expertise, interact with others, and search what others are saying about you, your company, as well as your competitors in 140 characters or less.  
  4. Youtube: An online video sharing and viewing site. Users create their own Youtube “channel” to upload and share videos, while viewers can comment and share the videos with their networks. 
  5. Blogs: A blog is an interactive website that usually is updated regularly in reverse chronological order. Others can comment on blog posts and share them with friends. It also can have non-interactive pages to house common information such as your “Contact Us” or “About” pages.  Blogs are useful for demonstrating your knowledge base and expertise.  Some popular free blogging platforms are: Wordpress, Blogger, and Typepad
  6. Google+: This is a powerful profile page that increases your visibility in search rankings and acts as a central location that links to all your online profiles, websites, alternate spellings of your name, contact information and much more. You should link to your Google+ profile on all your other profiles and include it in your email signature. Sooner than later, when someone does an online search of your name they will find your Google profile at the top of the search results.
  7. Forums: Forums are virtual discussion platforms that are targeted to specialized groups. They are a great place to share your tips and set yourself apart as an expert in your field. Search Google or ask other professionals in your field where they go to connect with others virtually. 
You should set up accounts on most of the popular social media sites even if you don’t plan to use them, as this prevents others from taking your desired username. Your profiles will require ongoing maintenance that can be very time consuming. I recommend choosing the top one or two that will have the most impact for you or your business, and learn to use them well. To ensure success, try accessing the help pages on each respective site, reading articles, doing webinars, watching videos, or asking another professional for tips. In my next post we’ll discuss non-interactive profiles.

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through