Out of Sight is Out of Mind
This is a common idiom for the normal world. Quite frankly, that is how most of the normal world is. We recognize what is in front of us. We focus on what's grabbing our attention. What is out of sight is out of mind. A Whole industry has mushroomed around this. From task managers to newsfeeds, being in someone's sight or, better yet, being on top of someone else's mind is the order of the day.
What has this got to do with Online Presence?
Everything. Sight today is a replacement for being visible on someone else's online feed. If you are in their feed, you are in their sight, and by implication, you are in their mind. Having a powerful online presence is the single most important way to grow your business. Let's look at a few charts to understand how online has grown over the last 15 years.
A precursory look at people using social media platforms from 2004 to 2019 provides some startling figures. Facebook and YouTube top the charts with numbers beyond 1.5 Billion People. While WhatsApp is not exactly an online platform since it focuses on messaging, it comes in third and has another 1 Billion people or more. More and more people are spending their lives online.
While Facebook's Internet.org, Google's Loon failed at getting more and more people online, Covid has accomplished. The number of people that are online today due to Covid is truly staggering. The number of people going online is multiplying and growing at an astounding pace. A look at the chart below shows that people have gone digital exponentially due to Covid.
The Growth of Online Careers
Now, let's look at a slightly different topic - online-only careers. A recent survey by Toy Maker Lego indicates that 30% of kids want to grow up to be YouTubers. Meaning, people use an online platform exclusively to build their careers. Never mind whether Youtube will be a platform that will still be dominant at that time.
Hundreds and thousands of students, professionals, women, and kids have become some sort of influencer or other. The global citizen is a true career choice today. The ability to create content that was a preserve of mainstream ad agencies is no longer true. With the rise of social media platforms, people treasure authenticity and personal touches. This has given rise to home-produced videos, reviews, endorsements, etc.,
If you are someone in your twilight years reading this, you have nothing to worry about. Your best years are past you, and you no longer have to worry about reinventing yourself. If you are someone getting started in life or in your early stages, you can jump onto the online bandwagon and build your online presence and brand.
Mid-Life Crisis Comes Home
The people that are truly affected by the online phenomenon are truly the usual mid-lifers. For people in the 35-49 age group, the world is changing at a truly rapid scale. Most of these people who saw the internet take shape in their early years benefited by being the ones that grew with the internet.
Yet, the current transformation underway is likely to pass them by if they don't reinvent themselves. Irrespective of which age group you are, building an online brand and presence is becoming inevitable. If more and more of the world is online, where are you going to go?
This begs the question. How does one build a powerful online presence? Here's your in-depth guide:
1. Choose a Platform
The first step is to choose the platform that is right for you. Do you have random deep thoughts? Then Twitter might do it for you. Do you like reading and writing deep essays? Medium coupled with LinkedIn might do it. If you want to own the copyright to your content fully, then you are better of with your very own WordPress Blog. Are you a visual person that can capture the beauty of something? Instagram might be it for you. If you like video, YouTube or TikTok might be it. Remember- choose the platform that you are comfortable with. Lots of youngsters are comfortable in front of cameras. You may or may not be. Choose wisely because you're in it for the long haul.
2. Don't saturate yourself
Don't be present everywhere. Being present everywhere is a bad idea. Many people who want to build an online presence start off by saying - I am going to sign up for everything and ace them all. It rarely works, if at all. Choose a maximum of 2 platforms with one as the dominant one and stick with it. Saturating yourself is a perfect recipe for disaster. The goal is to get a handful of people on that platform that become your fans or followers.
3. Don't be a mile wide and an inch deep
This is another aspect most people get wrong. People who are awesome at what they do have built expertise somewhere else and jumped into the platform. The platform merely showcases their depth. Awesome people make the most arduous things look easy. It can be as easy as it seems but only after some effort. For it to be easy, get to depth in the field or subject you've chosen. Remember - since everybody masquerades as an expert, the only real experts have deep and surprising insight.
4. Build a network
Warren Buffet, at one time, said he was more afraid of Public Speaking than anything else. Most people who have been in a classroom or office-style setup who are introverted have loathed that they have to step up to build networks and relationships. Well, online makes it super easy to build networks. If you are an introvert, online helps you have a field day. You can build relationships at your pace and choose to sever those that don't meet your needs or mutual needs. However, do build a network. It will outlast the platform.
5. Algorithm your way to growth
No matter which platform you are on, you need to understand how the platform works and work with its rules. Many of us wonder how "tyrannical" platforms can be. While there is some truth to it because they got everyone used to new stories, new content, etc., to keep their engine going, they need fresh content created by users. They do everything to prioritize content that engages their user base. All of these rules make up their algorithm. The best way to understand these platforms was as if you were the one running them. Once you put yourself in that position, you can understand many things and put those algorithms to work for you.
6. Build an independent following for yourself
While you are building your presence on the platforms, ensure you have your own presence on a website that you own. Invite people over to that page to follow you. Add value to your network by sharing exclusives with them and other ways that bring them value. You will need your own following in the long run to survive the rise and fall of platforms. Just look at what happened to thousands of TikTok influencers when governments such as India banned them in the country. Don't let that happen to you - EVER!
7. Leverage your network
Leverage your network. Actively engage with it. Wish people comment on their updates. Also, share your own authentic views. Make introductions actively. When you do this, people will view you differently. Also, get to know a lot of them well thru online meetups. That way, you can add value to them in the way they want. Ask them often - how you can add value to them and how they can benefit from your expertise.
8. Rinse and Repeat
Last but the most important. Remember that staying in the spotlight takes work in the beginning. Still, after that, if you have cultivated the right relationships and build your own authentic presence and persona, you will enjoy enduring visibility.
Read our earlier blogs on this:
How to Series #10 - How to avoid the Price Question
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your strategies.