2013 has come and gone, and with it passed the 20th anniversary of the internet. Or at least, that's the year we go to for all practical purposes: September 1993 was when America Online started offering its throngs of users Usenet access, expanding internet use to millions of people. (That month in ’93 has been retroactively named ‘Eternal September,’ signifying that the number of internet users only expanded from thereon, and shows no signs of slowing down in 2014.)
Looking at how far we’ve come (or haven’t come) 20 years later, it’s useful to observe our progress from a digital marketing standpoint. Being that marketing through the internet has only recently become a primary focus for your average business, the leaps and bounds taken by businesses to get noticed online are getting pretty drastic — and it helps clients and customers separate the wheat from the chaff.
The Financial Post published an article today that outlined the five “don’ts” for entrepreneurs in 2014, and it’s hard to dispute their advice. Two in particular stand out. One advises business owners to keep a watchful eye on their specific content. Don’t just assume that whatever you post online is good publicity; there is such a thing as bad publicity. The Post cited the online meltdown of a restaurant in Arizona where the owners kept letting themselves be antagonized and goaded by a few users, and then started posting things about how stupid their customers were (!!!) for not knowing good food when they find it. Keep those inner monologues to yourself, people — and we won’t even advise you to use them on your personal social media accounts.
Secondly, and most importantly, came the advice not to spread yourself too thin. Again, too much publicity isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when you dive right in without quite understanding the platforms and their implications. Especially if you’re one of many businesses just starting to investigate social media marketing, it’s often best to focus on one platform and get it just the way you want it. As Orville Redenbacher always said: “Do one thing, and do it better than anyone.”
And yet, you shouldn’t be averse to new platforms and opportunities. Just because you have a strong Facebook or YouTube presence doesn’t mean you should shy away from other outlets, because, well, you just never know. As every freshman college student continually reminds their professors, technology moves so fast (maaaan...) that for all you know the next huge digital marketing platform could be the underdog that not many people have noticed yet.
Walking that fine line between overexposure and underexposure is, or should be, the test of any entrepreneur with digital ambitions in 2014. Where a decade ago you had to force yourself to make contact with potential clients, nowadays your message can be tailored to direct your content to exactly the people you want to see it.