I woke up early this morning – well early for me – to catch a group coaching call with Rich Schefren. I wanted to ask him some specific questions regarding the future of my business and get his input on how to craft a blogging product offer.
During the call there was a lot of focus on reputation building and blogging, and my name came up several times as a good example of someone who has used a blog to get the attention of the big players in the industry. Obviously it was great to hear my name so positively endorsed by a leading business figure like Rich, but there was more to it than that – Rich is really passionate about this topic.
If you are on Rich’s email list then you may have noticed a trend recently – he has begun to blog on a consistent basis (check out his Strategic Profits blog). Rich is a calculated guy, he doesn’t do anything without there being a strategy behind it.
The second part of his Attention Age Doctrine is due out in a matter of weeks. Given the topic is attention and how to capture it, and Rich’s recent blogging activities and comments in today’s coaching call, it’s clear Rich sees a blog as a key tool for capturing attention. I expect he wants to turn his blog into a focal point for participation in the community and to further cement his position as a thought leader in his industry.
Community Participation Is Mandatory
There’s something that all good bloggers understand well – you can’t survive without your fellow bloggers. Isolation is death, to thrive you need to interact in some way with your peers and use network effects to build traffic and enhance your reputation. Successful blogging by it’s nature requires that you are plugged into the blogosphere.
The thing is, most businesses don’t get it. I can’t speak on Rich’s behalf, but based on what he said to me today I think one of the key points he wants to put forward is that most businesses are not taking part in the conversation and they don’t understand the new rules of communicating online.
What’s your gut reaction when confronted with a new product or service? You don’t really trust it do you. As consumers – as humans – we need to see proof before we begin to trust something enough that we might consider buying. Reputation is HUGE when it comes to making purchasing decisions and establishing trust. If someone isn’t saying good things about you then there is some serious work to do before you can convince people to buy from you.
It’s Not Just Blogging – It’s Web 2.0
We all know the whole “Web 2.0″ thing is a funny label and no one really knows what it means, yet everyone has their own personal definition. Web 2.0 is blogging, is social bookmarking and social networking. It’s Ajax tricks, Skype, new ways to interact – it’s conversations.
Essentially I believe Web 2.0 is all about new ways to communicate and that’s exactly why Rich is paying attention. It’s not just blogging, it’s FaceBook and Digg and StumbleUpon, and these things matter for one big reason – they are driving attention online.
If businesses don’t learn how to participate using these tools in an authentic manner, then they risk falling behind or disappearing altogether. You need to see where people are going, where they spend time and how they are interacting, and ensure your interact and use the same language.
Getting this right means people talk about you, you capture attention and your reputation is enhanced in a positive manner.
Get this wrong and no one talks about you and you are forgotten, or worse, if you don’t understand the language and you attempt to communicate and make mistakes, you risk doing serious damage to your business under an avalanche of negative “street talk”. If you do something wrong and the community finds out and talks about it, your reputation can be destroyed in one sweep of negative blog commentary, dugg all over the place.
So What Can Businesses Do?
The answer I’m obligated to give is get a blog set up immediately, but I’m not saying that just because I’m a blogger and blog trainer. I say this because a blog is the communication tool of choice at the moment. It’s the centerpiece that speaks the language you need to learn in order to participate in your community.
Nearly all social networking sites are somehow including blogging, either by sourcing content from blogs (it’s safe to say that a big chunk of the content featured on sites like Digg, Delicious and StumbeUpon are sitting on blogs) or integrating with a blog, or even provide a blogging-like function.
The fact is, you need to know how blogs work, what language the blogosphere uses and then carefully enter your community and start building a profile. Thankfully, the actual process of blogging is quite easy – it’s not easy to become a top blogger – but it’s easy enough to participate and certainly have an impact in whatever space you operate in.
I’m sure Rich’s next installment of his attention serious will elaborate on this extensively from a business context and I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.
For the time being I’m happy to be sitting in a place where a guy like Rich is talking about me as a result of my blogging and I’m sure Rich is equally happy that a blogger like me is talking about him.
If you aren’t taking steps to make an impact in the Web 2.0 world, especially if you are a business owner, then you better get to it – things are only just starting to take off.