Reflections & Resolutions

No this isn’t a post comparing screens on the latest mobile or tablet devices – it’s just some musings having spent a few digital free days over the New Year….

My site and blog are still less than 3 months old, but I’ve been pleased and thankful for the generally positive response and the steady stream of visitors I’ve been getting. I’ve had a chance to reflect a little on the purpose of the site and my blog and what the new year holds in store.

Firstly, the primary purpose of the site (and the blog) is to promote my services as a freelance online marketing specialist. The site provides a reference point for potential clients (and partners) and is in many ways my primary marketing tool. What I have found interesting and challenging is that I have found that I have several audiences that I am trying to cater for and communicate with, and this is already giving rise to a somewhat eclectic mix of content.

A key audience is small business owners that need help with all aspects of online marketing – from site development and search marketing through to social media. For this audience I want to provide some useful information, tips and guidance, to help them and also establish my credibility as somebody who can help them.

Another key audience are the digital agencies and other marketing services agencies, large and small, who have the potential need for freelance expertise. Again I want to establish credibility and highlight my skills and experience – as well as showing that I have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the digital space. A secondary audience here are the recruitment consultants that many agencies use to help them find the talent and resources they need.

What’s really interesting is that when I look at my ‘social’ networks, primarily LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I find the lines between these audiences overlapping and blurring – whilst sometimes still retaining very clear distinctions. Thus agency contacts whom I’m linked into may well follow me on twitter – but not feature in my Facebook friends, whilst more personal friends and contacts I’ve made in ‘the real world’ may be part of one or more of these networks – or indeed none. My initial plan was to find or generate interesting content and then decide how to use my networks to share this. However I have found that from time to time my content matter has been influenced by the people I’m meeting and the networks or channels that have been responsive – creating content for the channel rather than the audience.

It’s sometimes easy to worry whether a story about Facebook or Google’s latest beta project in the US will alienate the small business owner who is still grappling with the basics. Conversely there can be a concern that some of the more basic tips and how tos may leave a more advanced audience somewhat cold, and unlikely to return. Perhaps some more editorial planning is called for to address this. I should be able to serve a range of audiences with some tasty titbits.

In the background of course is that other key audience, the search engines. Here I’ve adopted an approach that relevant interesting content is the first priority, whilst trying to be search engine friendly. Again I have been pleasantly surprised, as I seemed to have gained some traction on search terms beyond my own name in a relatively short space of time. For search engine optimisation, content and crawlability are still the key cornerstones upon which the necessary social and linkbuilding activity are built. I believe that I’m building solid foundations – but time will tell.

My biggest reflection is that somewhere along on the line my own character and personality are at best hidden from view, and at worst completely absent. Perhaps concentrating on different audiences, content and search engine friendliness means that I don’t blog, tweet, or write as myself – but more as a business image that I think I want to present.

My favourite tweets (and/or facebook updates) tend to be exchanges between people I already know pretty well – where their personality brings an extra dimension. As a golfer, the other exchanges I’ve enjoyed are those involving Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme MacDowell, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and other top golfers – again personality shines through. As Samuel L Jackson said: “Personality goes a long way”.

So is the reflection (or should it be the resolution?) – more personality? Well sometimes the most boring people are the ones who are trying too hard to show how interesting they are – and that’s not a gang I want to join. So I’m going to expand my blogging beyond my work and see what happens.

And perhaps I’ll just try to hit the ‘publish’ button just a little quicker – the temptation to read, tweak and improve often means cleaner content – but also renders it sterile.

Let’s see how we get on in 2011….

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