What makes software popular? For many it’s the feature set of the product. But now perceptions have changed, and this is entirely due to the new way we interact with each other online. Different types of websites attract different types of visitors. Features, interactive widgets and animations are designed to attract and entice. Early adopters, techies and enthusiasts will go to a site for different reasons than mainstream followers. One of the main reasons why you will visit social networking sites is that your friends, colleagues and people in your immediate network are engaging with their friends and interacting there.

Having your contacts grouped together amplifies the network effect and significantly extends your potential reach.

The ability to connect outside your immediate network to include people further out in your social graph is important. These second degree connections can significantly add to the spread of networking and adoption of the site or application. You have your connections to your friends and you wish to extend your network outside your immediate circle of friends. You want to find those useful connections and work them into your network. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all have search facilities where you can find others who are interested in the same things as you, whether in business, personal, political or scientific. You can connect directly or get connected through one of your first degree networks.

If you want to use the community approach to gather new connections, then you can use broadcasts to find your audience. Your audience are people who are interested in the same things as you are. If you blog, tweet, or update your networking sites regularly then others who are searching for similar topics will find your postings. With regular broadcasts and responses to your audience you will start to generate a relationship with your audience that will bring you more followers, extend your network and create potential new advocates for your brand.

As soon as you publish online, you’ll get some kind of audience. But who are they? A lot of them are silent lurkers, they are visitors to your site who may have stumbled across your information accidentally and then move away. These visitors may be invisible to your eyes, they spend their time watching and waiting for you to connect with them. These lurkers are waiting for some information that resonates with them. It’s hard to connect with these people if you don’t know who or where they are.

You do know that these people are out there watching and listening, so there are things you can do.

Consider adjusting your ‘voice‘ to a different style to try to reach the people you don‘t currently know about.

If your style consists of opinions and commentary, you might want to try a different tone, such as information sharing, or questioning your readers. Your message has the potential to become diluted or taken out of context. It may be replicated elsewhere through different channels or it may not be replicated at all. There’s always a chance that you won’t connect with your original intended audience. Persistence always pays off, and it’s worth bearing in mind that some people will never connect with you no matter how hard you try. Don’t be disheartened. If you make sure that your site can be discovered easily by your audience, eventually the interaction will come.

Getting your website discovered requires some tweaking so that search engines like Google can find and index the site. Search engine optimisation, the art of improving the ranking of a website in search results, has been around for some time. Using keywords or meta-tags on your web pages can get your page higher up the search engine rankings, or get you some ‘Google juice‘. It‘s simple enough to use intelligent keywords, image keywords and keyword hotlinks on your web page. SEO specialists can register your site on search engines so that the spiders and search bots come to visit your page, but these are manual processes.

Fortunately, with the advent of status updates and online profiles, Web 2.0 techniques can improve your rankings with very little effort. User generated updates by their nature are dynamic, and having dynamic, frequently changing information on your site is a good thing. Dynamic updates ensure that web bots will visit your site more frequently and improve your rankings across the search engines. Google Bing and Yahoo! now index social media updates such as those from Friendfeed, Twitter and YouTube, so your recent communications on these sites can appear in the results fairly quickly. There are other considerations for SEO and practices you could put into place to publicise your brand or profile.


  • Try to have a consistent naming strategy. If your company is called Best New Media Marketing Ltd, try to find a name that matches across all of your profiles. If you’re going to use this name as your alias on Twitter, with its 140-character limit, you’ll need to use short status messages as you won’t have many characters left in the message.

  • Try to reserve your brand identities by registering them. Use to check whether the username you wish has already been registered on other networking sites.

  • Think about your brand attributes. Are you reliable, efficient, dynamic, energetic, innovative, strategic, structured or creative? Make sure you include these attributes whenever you post online updates.

  • Make sure your visual image portrays the brand you want, both in your corporate identity and your personal brand online. Consider whether using a headshot in your profile is the best for your brand, or whether your logo is the image you want your customers to see.

  • Decide on your personal and professional brand limits. Decide where to draw the line. With suitable privacy settings, lock down any settings that you don’t want broadcasted.

  • Focus on quality and consistency in your message. Remember content is king and freshness is queen.

  • Post information regularly. Find a schedule which works for you and stick to it. Whether you have the time to update once a day, or once a week, the key message is consistency. Avoid bursts of activity which will confuse the web crawl spiders and turn your readers away.

  • Create channels for your brand. YouTube and Slideshare are just two examples of channels that you can customise with your logo and configure a background to the page in your company style. Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups, when well configured and maintained, promote your brand and encourage dialogue with your customers and partners.

  • Cross-link. Refer to your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, your blog or your LinkedIn Profile on each of your sites so that each of them can be accessed from the other. If you want a single destination point, make sure that all of your profiles point to that site.

  • Vary the content. Talking about the same thing using the same URL time after time will make your updates appear to be spam and your followers will go elsewhere.

  • Keep the content on message. If your business is about ballet shoes, then make sure that the term ‘ballet shoes‘ appears regularly in your blog posts, or on Twitter. You‘ll eventually turn up in search results for ‘ballet shoes‘ if you regularly post ballet related updates on each of these sites.

  • Comment on other blogs. Your comment profile will appear as a URL on the other blog site which links back to your site. Web crawl spiders will notice the links and give your site more relevance and ranking amongst other similar sites.

  • Be generous with your links to other blogs which will draw traffic back to your site.

  • Use several platforms and remember that you can link each of these. Content goes across most of these platforms.

The key thing is to make sure that the content is fresh and updated regularly. Appearing at the top of search engine results is not something that happens overnight. If you are diligent and organised about creating fresh content, then you’ll be surprised at how quickly this can happen, and you can measure your success in weeks instead of months.