Building and managing a web presence is all about managing your reputation. Now, and in the future even more, the first face your new fans are going to see is a search result. Or a tweet, or whatever crazy name some kid in California comes up with in the next generation of the web.
It doesn’t matter what the tool is called, it’s going to be a web tool. And that means you need to be there. Not just with a digital home, but with a real human presence. Today, anyones can hire a tech-junkie to automate a web presence with fake robot tweets, scraped (stolen) blog posts and spammy comments on websites. And any real human can see right through it.
A properly managed web presence is built on four pillars, which form a framework for activity that allows for staying current and relevant.
1. Monitor current trending topics and participate in those conversations that are relevant to you.
Use several web technologies separately and together to monitor any activity on the web for a given topic. On any given day expect to receive alerts from twitter, linkedin groups, and the web in general, including both news sources and industry blogs.
2. Establish reputation for rational well-thought and well-written commentary on current topics.
Using recent alerts and activity as a guide, visit influential websites around the web and join the conversation. The goal here is always to offer relevant commentary and whenever possible, offer some genuine, real-world help to solve a problem.
3. Identify emerging trends early to become identified with the beginnings of those trends – establish thought leadership.
Over time try to identify which emerging trends will most likely become mainstream. By joining the conversation near its beginning, it’s possible to become associated with the conversation and looked to as a leader of the conversation.
4. Identify important future trends and create conversations around those trends.
It is important to cultivate a genuine leadership position once it has been attained. By nature, social leaders are the ones who recognize and act early. It will be up to you to keep a thoughtful eye on the future, so you’ll know which conversations to start.
The Bottom Line
Reputation is an elusive thing – building a good one takes sustained effort over time. In the end though, it’s as simple as what folks think and feel about you. That is who you are, to them. If they have no real presence to base their opinions on, they will probably still form an opinion.
A properly managed web presence helps to ensure the reputation you want, positioning yourself as a de facto leader in your chosen field and establishing a real rapport with both current and potential contacts. While true that successful management comes with a high price tag, the benefits are worth far more than the cost.