Facebook. YouTube. Pinterest. Pay-per-click ads. Blog. LinkedIn. Yelp. Email newsletter. Twitter. Link building. Manta. The list goes on and on of all the things the experts say that you’re supposed to do online if you’re going to be a success in your business or organization.
But does it leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or even defeated before you even begin? How can you begin to tackle that never-ending web marketing to-do list successfully and still keep your sanity?
Learn what you really want to do.
First, you now need to understand your goals and objectives. What are you really trying to do with your online presence? Are you looking for new customers? Are you raising awareness about your organization? Are you trying to build credibility? The possibilities are limitless, but knowing what you’re trying to “build” will help you select the right tools.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer that works with large corporations’ public relations departments, you probably won’t find them hanging out on Facebook (so no matter how much your friend who sells shoes raves about how many customers she’s gotten through Facebook, you don’t need to feel guilty for not being on it). Instead, think about where these PR directors go. Are they engaged in conversations on LinkedIn? If so, that might be a better tool for you. Do you think you could share your PR expertise regularly? Try an email newsletter. Knowing what you’re really trying to do will help you focus your time wisely rather than trying to do it all.
Takeaway #1: Identify your goals and objectives. Knowing your desired end result will help you plan the right way to get there—showing off your knitted creations to potential customers on Pinterest, tweeting your coffee flavors of the day on Twitter, making instructional videos for YouTube, and more.
Know what these things really are.
You will also do better if you remember that each of these things, whether it’s your website, your Facebook page, or your email newsletter, are nothing more than tools. They are simply venues that can help you with your goals and objectives. None of them (contrary to what you might hear marketing experts, SEO experts, or the tools themselves tell you) are silver bullets. None of these things will do the work for you. None of them will bring in one more customer, one more project, or one more donor on their own.
Think of it this way: If you have a wall shelf that you’d like to install in your home, you need tools to help you do that. Mashing the shelf into the wall with your bare hands will hardly help. You need the right tools, in this case, a hammer, nails, a ruler, a level, and a pencil. So if you have these tools in your toolbox, they do not put up that shelf on their own. You need to use them in the right way for your project. And no matter how much your neighbor tells you that he can’t live without his table saw (and no matter how great it is), it won’t help you with this project, either. That’s why you named your goals and objectives first.
Takeaway #2: Think about each of these web marketing tools as simply tools. None of them are magic. You need to choose the right ones for the job, and you need to use them well. There are plenty of resources to help you find out what to use and how.
Focus, focus, focus!
Yes, all the possibilities can still feel overwhelming and convince you that you’re doing something wrong (for example, by not being on Twitter). But if you know what your goals are and realize that you need to choose the right tools, you’ll naturally be focusing on the few helpful steps to take. Don’t get sidetracked by the next “expert” you talk to or by the next hot social media craze until you know a little more about how it works. Instead, focus on your goals and using the right tools to meet those goals.
When trying to figure out what to do, not only should you choose things that will help you accomplish your goals, but you should also choose things you have a better chance to stick with. If you don’t have the time to check your Twitter feed (and post) several times a day, then don’t choose Twitter. If you can’t make lots of interesting graphics on a regular basis, leave Pinterest alone. While stepping out of your comfort zone a little to try new things isn’t a bad idea, you still need to be realistic about what you know you can and can’t do.
Takeaway #3: Keep focused on where you’re going and how you’re planning to get there, and choose the right tactics that you can keep up with on a regular basis.
The big takeaway
As long as electronic communication is around, there will always be something new. And as long as there is something new, there will always be people telling you to get on it or end up missing out. The simple truth is, you can’t do it all and maintain your health and sanity without paying big bucks to have people do it all for you. When it comes right down to it, you don’t need to do it all. Instead, know your goals and where you’d like to go, and choose the few tools to help you get there. You’ll reap the results…and be a happier person for it!