3 Ways to Maintain Control of Your Digital Self

Judging by the dizzying rate of growth of Twitter and Facebook over the past several weeks and months, general web users, and in particular small businesses, are embracing social media.  Not to be the voice of doom and gloom but what happens if Twitter and Facebook disappear? While that is not likely, what is likely is that Twitter and Facebook will look radically different in 12-18 months.  Why? Both entities need to innovate to continue to be market leading social network services (SNS) and more importantly, they need to find a sustainable business model.  Facebook needs another cash infusion and is having difficulty securing it.  Twitter is helping third-parties like Comcast, Zappos and Dell streamline customer service but does not yet have a way to directly monetize its platform.  So while we are enjoying the free ride today, it may not last.  Somebody has to pay for the  servers, storage and bandwidth – either advertisers or users.

How do you take advantage of the growth of social networks while protecting yourself from shifting business models and implementations?

1.  Maintain An Online Hub for Your Digital Self – It is critical to have an online home for your content, your brand and your products that you own.  Use social media sites as outposts and use your website/blog as your online headquarters.

2.  Use Facebook and Twitter As Spokes – Leverage these growth engines to hone your ideas, do market research, market your brand and acquire new users.  Make sure that whatever you do points back to your online hub.  Use these sites to provide sampling/teasers to pay off at your hub.  This strategy will work when the next Facebook or Twitter competitor emerges.

3.  Create A Conversion Event on Your Online Hub – Continue to move users down the awareness-consideration-purchase (action) funnel when they get to your site.  Promote registration to a newsletter in exchange for an email address.  Determine the action that gets the user closer to driving revenue while providing value in return.

I’ll elaborate further on the 3 control techniques above in future posts.  Until then, no social networking presence takes the place of your own online hub.   Use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and LinkedIn to your heart’s content.  Just make sure you understand why you are using them and how you will know if your goals are being met.

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