10 Easy Ways to Get More Facebook Likes for Your Business Page

In order to achieve success on Facebook you need a community. That’s a fact. If you don’t have a community, you don’t have anyone listening to you, and if there’s no one listening to you, it’s difficult to build brand awareness and deliver ROI.

You need a community filled with people who like you and share your content with like-minded friends. But it’s not just about the quantity of Facebook likes that you collect, it’s about the quality; attracting Facebook likes from a group targeted to suit your business goals whose comments (and endorsement!) can increase your shares on Facebook.

So here are ten quick and easy tips to drive targeted Facebook likes to your business page.

1. Complete your Facebook Business Page Profile

Your Facebook Page is the first thing people see when they come to visit you on Facebook. Let visitors know why they should like you! Create a catchy description and make sure you categorize your page correctly. Also make sure to list your address, phone number and hours of operation (if applicable). Not only will this inform your potential followers, it will tell Facebook what kind of organization you are you so they know to show your page when users are searching for companies like yours – which can increase your Facebook likes even more!

2. Ask friends, business partners and other contacts to like you on Facebook

Friends are like underpants. Some snap under pressure, some are a little twisted, but some will give you support. When you first create a Facebook Page invite your supportive friends, family and business partners to like your Facebook Page. These initial likes will give you higher social media credibility and visibility. Then, alert your customers, prospects and your other social communities, and promote your Facebook page anywhere you mention your website. If people don’t know your Facebook page exists, they can’t like it.

3. Add social plugins to your website

Visitors on your website should be able to  find your Facebook Page easily. My recommendation is to use Facebook’s Social Plugins, like the Like box plugin, to get more Facebook likes. These plugins include a like button, your recent posts, and pictures of some of your fans.

4. Find out what interests your community

With Facebook’s new Graph Search it’s really easy to find out what interests your target community, and post relevant content to increase Facebook likes.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that I have a Facebook Page for my new pizza restaurant in San Francisco. To learn more about my target community’s interests, I search for “Favorite interests of people who like Restaurants and live in San Francisco, California.“ Facebook tells me that my target community also likes cooking, wine tasting and traveling.

Facebook Graph Search Results

 

 

 

 

I also want to see the interests of my competitors’ communities, so I search for “Favorite interests of people who like Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza,” and I find out that they like cooking, chocolate chip cookies, eating, food and partying.

This information is great to have at hand when I’m thinking about what to post on my Facebook page. By posting content that my audience is interested in (for example, suggesting which wines go well with my pizza) they will share it with their friends and help me get more Facebook likes. This same content will also attract likes from people who come to my Facebook page from my website, email signature, or a Facebook search.

5. Use Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are another great way to increase Facebook likes. To get the most out of your ads, you can target by your community’s interests to find people similar to your current fans.
In the image below, you can see how I’ve used the information that I got from Graph Search and how I’ve targeted my ad for my new pizza place.

Facebook Ads

 

 

 

 

Experiment with different types of ads to see what works best for your organization, and make sure you choose the option that allows Facebook users to like your page directly from the ad.

6. Run a contest

There are many companies that have created successful contests on Facebook that resulted in many thousands of Facebook likes. But there are some things that you need to know before you create your own contest. For starters, make sure that your contest follows Facebook’s promotion guidelines. Your contest must use a Facebook app, which allows you to create a fan-gate, so that only those who first like your page can participate in the contest. Apps also have a unique URL, so you can promote your contest with a Facebook ad and increase Facebook likes even more.

Also, when you create a contest make sure that your app is working for mobile users, that the content of the contest is funny, that it’s easy to participate and that the contest encourage users to share their result and participation with their friends.

7. Like, and interact with, other companies

Did you know that you can engage with other company pages as your Business Page on Facebook? This is a great way to build awareness among like-minded companies and their followers.  To do this, visit your Facebook Page, click on “Edit Page” in your Admin Panel and select “Use Facebook as YourPage.”

Facebook Like as Page

Finding companies to like and interact with is easy. Use Graph search and search for e.g. companies, pages, places that is of interests for your company and like these Pages (you can’t like personal profiles).

After you have liked some Pages, you can view your company’s Newsfeed and engage with the pages you like. Not only is the company likely to follow you back, but their engagement with your page will help you increase Facebook likes amongst their followers as well.

8. Publish engaging content

It’s important to publish engaging, entertaining and interesting posts on a regular basis, and to keep an eye out for the posts that get the most engagement. If your posts are valuable to your followers, then they will share your posts with their friends, helping you increase your Facebook likes. Images are among the best types of post for driving engagement so make sure you publish images your followers can relate to and will like. You may also want to include calls to action in some of your posts, asking followers to like, comment or share your content, or ask your community a question.

9. Be active

By now you know that you should publish engaging, interesting and entertaining content. But how often should you post? There is no magic number but there are best practices and analytics to guide you. Post at least one status update per day, and experiment with the timing of your posts to see when the majority of your followers are active. People are unlikely to like your Facebook page if you don’t post regularly – and they certainly won’t engage with your content (or help you get more likes) if they don’t see your posts.

10. Measure, analyze and learn

Use Facebook Insights to find useful metrics on your page performance. You can see things like reach (how many users are seeing your posts), engaged users (how many users engage with your posts) and new likes (when and why do you get new followers). These metrics will help you understand what’s driving your likes and engagement, so that you can adjust your posts accordingly. If you would like to know if you have good engagement, or want other recommendations for improvement, try out our free Facebook analytics tool, LikeAlyzer.

Would you like to add any tips for getting more Facebook likes? Did I forget something? Please add a comment and, if you like the post, feel free to share it with your friends

Brand and Branding

Who owns your brand?

I don’t mean this in a “does you consumer now control the brand?” kind of way. I mean it in a, “where do people go to connect with your brand?” kind of way. I was flipping through an in-flight magazine yesterday and noticed a two-page spread for a diaper company. There was a massive call to action in the bottom right-hand corner of the print ad that said something like: “to lean more, please follow us on Facebook.” I found myself asking a very simple question: “what is this brand of diapers doing on Facebook that is so unique to the brand experience that it can’t be done on their own website?” The answer (after a quick review) is nothing. This brand’s Facebook page isn’t doing much to leverage the power of the social graph or use Facebook’s functionality to extend the brand narrative in a unique way. They’re just using Facebook as a place to have a less-interactive and less-branded website.

Why is it less-branded?

What’s better: one clear message or five messages on the same page? When you have you own website, you control the amount of messaging and the engagement. When you have your brand page on Facebook (and I’m using Facebook as a euphemism for any online social network, be it Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or whatever), your brand is housed within the Facebook branded experience and there could be ancillary brands (or advertisements, whatever) in the mix as well.

The tough question.

Brands have to start asking themselves one very tough question: are we on Facebook because it makes our brand experience better and leverages the power of these millions of connected people, or are we on Facebook, because there are a lot of people there and we have been unable to garner that level of attention with our own digital experiences and spaces? Facebook isn’t bad. Facebook is great. But, Facebook is only great to the brands that people care about, and it’s only great when those brands are already connected to their consumers and leverage the Facebook experience to do a whole lot more.

Brands are getting lazy.

It’s not just brands, it’s also the agencies that serve them. With each and every passing day, I’m seeing more and more brands forgo their own web and mobile experiences to use social media environments as their primary place to connect. Years ago, I cautioned against this. It became a more prescient concept when MySpace collapsed as Facebook began to gain its momentum. At the time, I had many of my musician friends suddenly lose their entire audience. Back then, it was much easier to build and update a MySpace page than it was to build and nurture a unique website. The problem is that when everyone started bailing on MySpace, the bands were left with little community. On top of that, they had no way to take the sweat equity (content, connections and more) to another platform. They didn’t own it. MySpace did. When MySpace changed their rules, the bands were affected but couldn’t do much about it. Same with Facebook: it’s their playground and they can take their ball and go home whenever they want.

Today.

Today, more and more brands are doing the exact same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Google + or whatever. They’re allowing their brands to not only play second fiddle within the compounds of these online social networks, but they’re selling their brands short with the shiny, bright objects du jour instead of looking out on to the horizon. Why is this such a big deal? We’re seeing our world become more and more mobile. Facebook, Google and everyone else have yet to demonstrate how they’re going to take their current connections of users and migrate them over to a mobile platform that is just as engaging and compelling as what we’re seeing in the current browser-based format. What makes any brand (and agency) think that they’re going to get this right? Immediately, any brand can create a new website in HTML5 and leverage responsive technology to develop a platform that is – at the very least – manageable across all devices and screens. At the same time, these same brands can spend as much time and money as they wish creating a better brand narrative – without the restrictions and limitations set out by any other digital media company.

Fear is the mindkiller.

It’s just easier to play in someone else’s sandbox, isn’t it? Fear is holding everyone back. Unlimited creativity and opportunity is holding these brands back. It’s a shame. A brand that can provide a true experience and extend that brand narrative by providing utility and being there – wherever – the consumer is, will be the winning brands of the near-future. If consumers want to shop the brand wherever and whenever they want, but these brands are locking themselves in to other channels and platforms, they’re missing the biggest opportunity that social technology has brought: the ability to create a powerful and direct relationship with a consumer.

In Praise Of Lazy

As excited as you and I are about Digital Marketing and Social Media, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that most people are not and will not ever really care. 

We used to talk about the 1% rule – that only one percent of an active audience will actually take the time to create content. That number has probably shifted higher because creating content is much easier and can be done in short order. It doesn’t take long to pump out a 140 character tweet on Twitter, and it’s equally easy to upload a picture or even your status on Facebook. Platforms like LinkedIn make it simple to create content by allowing people to not only update their status, but to also answer questions. It doesn’t take much to “like” something on Facebook or give a YouTube video a thumbs up (or down).

Still, the masses don’t care.

I recently overheard two people talking about Twitter. It went something like this:

  • Person #1: “How many people do you follow on Twitter?”
  • Person #2: “Only a couple of hundred.”
  • Person #1: “Do you ever talk to them?”
  • Person #2: “You can talk to people?”
  • Person #1: “Yeah, you use the @ sign and then they know you’re replying to something they said.”
  • Person #2: “Why would I want to do that?”

I can’t make this stuff up.

If the amount of people who open a Twitter account but hardly use it isn’t staggering to you (more on that here: Twitter users not so social after all), imagine the percentage of people on places like Facebook, YouTube and beyond who don’t even understand the basics of how to get the most out of their online experience. It’s not an indictment on the good work we’re all doing, it’s a reality.

How much work do you want to do?

There was a lot of buzz the other week about Digg and their all-new redesign (which included some additional site functionality). Many people think that Digg is doing this because their traffic is plummeting and they’re loosing relevancy in the marketplace (or that they’re trying to be more attractive to brands and advertisers). It’s not that. The Digg model is simply not something that the masses care about. Meaning: people just want the news. They want it well-produced (in text, images, audio and video) and they want it filtered and edited. Most people come home after a long day of work and they want to unwind. They don’t want to scour the Web for information, create a profile, upload a link, Digg it, comment on it, share it, promote it or talk about it on Twitter and Blogs.

It’s all in the balance.

Don’t be upset that the masses all don’t have Google Alerts or have a news reader set-up on their desktop. Most people are not going to download a Twitter client like TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop so that they can have a Nasdaq-esque screen flowing constantly with each and every tweet that is related to their lives. Most people are mass media lazy. They’re used to sitting back and letting the media wash over them (from a TV sitcom to an article in Vanity Fair). They want to be entertained. They want to forget about their work day. They’re not interested in working more or creating their own media. The balance comes in recognizing both types of people. The balance comes in creating media (as a brand) that appeals to those who just want the information versus those who want to do something with that same information.

Do you think this is going to change – and that people will become more active – or are we all just too stuck in our ways?

Social Media Can Change The Corporate Culture

Most corporate cultures are what they are. Some have been around for decades. Others have had the same corporate culture for a century (or longer). Change is never easy, but change does happen. 

There’s this old trucker saying that goes: “if you can’t change people, you change people.” The truth is that not every competent individual is right for every company, and there are also some serious nincompoops who manage to stick with a company longer than anyone can fathom. Beneath the many layers of individuals, personal politics, power shifting and HR is a corporate culture. The brand’s raison d’être. It is not something that changes easily, but it does change. Mark W. Schaefer over at the Grow Blog doesn’t seem to think it’s possible. In his Blog post, Can social media change your company’s culture? I doubt it (September 22nd, 2010), he calls me out for saying that Social Media is changing corporate culture during our recent Podcast debate on Ghost Blogging (more on that here: SPOS #214 – The Ghost Blogging Debate With Mark W. Schaefer).

Social Media can’t change a corporate culture…

And, here’s why Mark thinks this way: “The idea that you could transform a company culture just because it needs to create a Twitter account or YouTube channel is probably fanciful. I believe the companies who are succeeding on the social web are doing so because they already have a company culture that would enable and reward that success. A well-managed, market-oriented company with a legacy of customer-centricity is going to do well with social media — and any other marketing innovation that comes down the line. If you look at a list of the most successful companies on the social web, there really aren’t any surprises are there? Their cultures are pre-wired to succeed.”

Social Media is not from within.

Mark is one-hundred percent accurate. A company that is customer-centric and open to innovation will probably be more successful in platforms like Twitter and YouTube, but that’s not my point. Take a look at Dell prior to Jeff Jarvis and his infamous Dell Hell post. What made Dell turn the corner was not a proactive decision to embrace Social Media. In fact, it was the total opposite. Social Media did not come from within. It came from consumers leveraging these powerful sharing and publishing platforms to speak their minds, and the net result of this content scared Dell’s top echelon enough to start re-thinking their corporate culture and how they connect with consumers. We’re all quick to cheer Coca-Cola for embracing their consumer-generated Facebook page, but let’s not forget how unhappy the company was when the Eepy Bird guys started mixing Diet Coke and Mentos for some volcanic fun. The company was not amused and reminded people that they would prefer if people consumed Diet Coke.

Coming round.

There are countless stories of major (and minor) corporate brands that over time have begun to understand how their brands now “live” because of Social Media and the brand ecosystem (Dell and Coca-Cola are just two regularly cited ones). A new Social Media marketing platform will not change a corporate culture, but enough voices in Social Media talking, sharing, creating and doing more is likely to get attention and force change. We have to remember that Marketers – if given the choice – would probably never want Social Media. They can’t control a message and they can’t keep others from speaking publicly about them. That’s scary, but Social Media is forcing this change in corporate culture. Whether brands are doing this proactively or because they have no choice is a whole other discussion.

Push beyond Marketing.

Look at LinkedIn. People are posting their positions. Peers and customers provide recommendations. Companies now have their own profiles. All of this information that used to be so closely guarded against the corporate chest is now open for the world to see. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in enough small, medium and large corporate boardrooms to know that all of this cumulative content (beyond Marketing and Communications engagement) and information is pushing corporate culture to change. From Real Estate and big pharma to financial institutions and law offices. Change is happening… and it’s happening at the corporate culture level. It may be happening slowly for some or at breakneck speed for others, but it is happening.

What do you think? Is Social Media changing corporate culture?


The Future Of Blogging Might Surprise You

As social media evolves, it’s normal that the channels and platforms evolve, too. Some continue to grow in popularity, while others dwindle. 

One thing is for certain: The Internet is not a fad. This new media is not going away. And, as it continues to grow in popularity, it’s important to also accept that social media is not a fad. Yes, some of the platforms have becomes less popular (Friendster, MySpace and Second Life), but then again, maybe they have returned to a more realistic state of stability. Maybe these platforms were never meant to compete with the raw numbers of television viewership. Perhaps not every platform and channel should be benchmarked against Facebook and its 500 million-plus users. Maybe MySpace is doing right now what it does best: serving entertainment professionals and wannabes with a place to connect.

What about the future of blogs and blogging?

Last week, eMarketer released a new report titled, The Blogosphere – Colliding With Social And Mainstream Media, written by Paul Verna. If you think about the advent of social media, blogging really was the first pin to drop. The ability for anybody to have a thought, be able to type it up and then publish it online for the world to see (for free) changed everything we know about publishing, journalism and the media. Along with the publishing component, the ability to subscribe to the content via RSS, and have the ability to comment on it publicly, link back to it or even start your own blog was a watershed moment in the history of humanity and evolution of publishing. Some equate it with the advent of the printing press, while many in traditional print media wrote it off in an attempt to maintain their own credibility and professionalism. As blogging took hold, the ability to publish in images, audio and video pushed social media into many different directions and – as with all things – the content that was easiest to produce and publish (like snapping a picture or shooting a quick video) replaced the not-so-easy task of putting your thoughts into words. Blogging was always hard, because writing is hard. Everyone is not a writer. Everyone is not a blogger.

Nothing has changed … but everything has changed.

“Despite the success of other social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, blog readership has increased steadily and is expected to continue on an upward path,” the Blogosphere report says. ”Just over half of U.S. Internet users are now reading blogs at least once a month, and this percentage will climb to 60 per cent in the next four years. The main drivers behind these increases are the prevalence of blogs in the mainstream media, the increased use of blogs for corporate marketing and easy-to-use personal blogging platforms.” It’s interesting to note that the true growth of blogging is not coming from individuals using this empowered publishing platform to share their insights with the world. The credibility and growth from blogs moving forward seems to be coming from the mainstream media’s desire to have a cheaper, faster and near-real-time platform to distribute their content.

Blogs are (and will become) a mainstream media platform.

In February 2006, I wrote a blog post titled, A Blog Is Like Lemmy From Motorhead. The point of it? I wrote: “A blog is the glory of a personal voice – warts and all. That is why people are gravitating toward them. Deep down, we want companies to speak our language. We’re tired of jargon. We’re zoning out when we hear phrases like ‘best of breed’ or ‘end to end solution.’ We want to know that business cares about us and treasures our loyalty. We want more… and we’re starting with a conversation that has a human voice behind it … warts and all.”

That world is quickly leaving us as blogs become almost indecipherable from a mass media news website.

The Blogosphere report goes on to say: “The number of blog creators is also expected to climb, though not as steeply as that of blog readers. For many people, the appeal of blogging is not as intense as it was when blogs were the leading form of social media. Today, people have many other social tools at their disposal, and some of them are more fun and less labour-intensive than blogs. Facebook offers most of the capabilities of blogs; users post frequent updates that can include photos, videos and links. To give an idea of how blogging stacks up against social network usage, there will be 26 million bloggers in the U.S. by the end of 2010 compared with about 150 million Facebook users. …Nevertheless, overall blogging rates will inch upward. The biggest factors driving the increase are the ease of use of blogging platforms and the growing comfort level with blog reading among U.S. Internet users. Blogs with broad reach – whether media blogs, corporate blogs or influential technology or celebrity blogs – are creating a culture in which blogging is accepted as an integral part of the media landscape.”

From a personal journaling platform in 1997 to a full-on publishing platform, the transformation of blogs over the past few years can be best summed up in one word: astounding.

It’s a profound shift in how we write, read, contribute and distribute the published word. Blogs are no longer the black sheep of publishing. They have quickly become as important as the printed word. The New York Times operates at least 50 public-facing blogs,” the Blogosphere report says. “These blogs are intertwined with the paper’s regular coverage. Readers are routinely redirected from the main site to the blogs and back again. There is a near total fluidity between the traditional coverage and the blog posts.”

So, in some strange, ironic way, the future of blogging lies in its ability to act like and augment the most traditional types of the printed word.

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

Is Social Media Right For Every Business?

A great man once said, “Do or do not; there is no try.” 

Fine, it wasn’t a great man, but when Yoda said that now-classic line in The Empire Strikes Back, many a geek (myself included) nodded our heads as if it were the common-sense wisdom of the Dalai Lama. In fact, the concept of “trying” something without having a true strategy or direct outcome in mind is becoming a much more sensible approach to Digital Marketing channels. This is especially true with the varied world of Social Media, where channels and platforms like Twitter and Facebook roam wild with Chat Roulette and Wikipedia. One person’s video of six dogs chasing a gazelle with 80 million views is equally layered against an audio podcast that focuses on the best burger joints in Montreal. (No joke. Check out The Montreal Burger Report).

Is there room for businesses and brands in all this random content?

Of course there is. One of the primary reasons that businesses struggle to understand the world of Social Media is that it is often compared with one particular traditional media channel, instead of being seen as a healthy ecosystem where a bricks and mortar brand (and this includes products and services with a business-to-consumer or business-to-business focus) can create and do things with content (text, images, audio and video) across multiple areas with varying degrees of impact and audience.

PodCamp could well have been wrong.

Last week, close to 400 business professionals, hobbyists, media hackers and others with an interest in Social Media spent the weekend at UQAM listening to many different types of presentations (like Revenue Generating Trends for Bloggers, Going Against the Grain with Niche Podcasts, and Your Web Content: Forever or Fragile?) at PodCamp Montreal. What originally started as an unconference (a self-organized get-together where the content and flow of the day is organized and led by all participants), PodCamp Montreal has blossomed into a full-blown, two-day professional conference with sessions in English and French. (PodCamps happen all over the world – just do a search for one in your area).

As someone who has participated in and helped organize these types of unconferences over the years, it was surprising to hear many speakers say: “Social Media is not right for every business.”

The explanation given was that some companies simply don’t have the wherewithal. They don’t have the bandwidth, budget, resources, people, experience or the right attitude. It’s as if everything has to align like the stars to get into this very complex media mix. That kind of back and forth is a huge misconception. It’s usually done so that a company hires any one of these many consultants/speakers to pay them to do the work.

The truth is, asking, “Are social media right for my company?” is a flawed question. Instead, ask yourself: “Should my business be sharing who we are and what we do with the world?” If the answer isn’t yes, feel free to pick up the computer or mobile device that you’re reading this on and whack yourself upside the head until you realize the answer is always yes!

That’s why you’re in business: so more and more customers can find you, buy from you and tell everyone that they know how great you are.

This flawed thinking that Social Media are not for everyone happens because many of these self-anointed experts focus on only two areas of Social Media:

  1. Whatever platform is most popular (like Facebook and Twitter).
  2. The notion that Social Media are all about the “conversation” taking place online about you, your competitors and/or the industry you serve.

Those are both valid spaces to play in, but they’re not even close to the only ones or the reason to get involved in the first place.

What makes Social Media (or any other type of media) truly “social” is the ability to share. Whether that is done on an internal basis with your employees or publicly (or both), sharing is the best place to start. Share everything there is for people to know about you (news, articles, white papers, your thoughts, etc.). Share beyond your own hallowed digital walls (your website) and push that information into the channels where people who might be looking for what you have to offer frequent.

Share and share alike.

Optimizing your site so it can be found on search engines is important, but don’t forget YouTube is actually the second-largest search engine (after Google) and people are doing all kinds of searches within their online social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and beyond. They’re scanning the industry blogs and podcasts to see who is saying what about whom. The more you make your content findable, the more findable you become – everywhere.

Once you begin to benefit from this, you’ll begin to see the many additional options that are available – from tools that can help you to better collaborate both internally and by leveraging the wisdom of your crowd, to listening to the existing feedback and dialogue surrounding your brand. All this public content is there. It can help you better analyze your market position, what customers really think about you and your competitors, and it can even provide indications as to how you can improve and innovate.

Social Media is for every business… that’s just stupid.

What if you sell toilet paper? Are Social Media still right for your business? Charmin released an iPhone app called, Sit or Squat, which allows you to locate, rate, comment on and even add the whereabouts of a clean public toilet. The feature-rich application also allows you to narrow your search to bathrooms that have a baby-changing station (as one of many examples). This crowd-sourced initiative has been downloaded millions of times and – as someone who travels as frequently as I do – has a special place on the first home page of my iPhone. Charmin is enabling and empowering people like you and me to share with the intent of having a better bathroom experience (with the hope you’ll consider buying Charmin toilet paper as you make your way through your grocer’s aisle).

If Charmin can make toilet paper social, what’s got you all blocked up?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:


The Internet Is Your Media Lab

Does your company wish there was a place where you could experiment with New Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications? 

While attending MediaCamp today in Montreal (as a preamble to PodCamp Montreal), Sylvain Carle (from Praized) suggested that maybe more media companies needed to create a media lab where they could experiment with new content platforms, revenue models and distribution channels. This may sound kind of obvious, but it already exists…

It’s called the Internet.

While it may be wise for most brands to have a premeditated strategy and plan before diving head-first into the online channel, there is nothing wrong with trying, tinkering and grappling with a few skunkwork projects online to see what kind of reception and traction you can get. Why not use the channel to experiment and try things… many, small things? You know, that whole “fail fast” model of innovation and development.

Failure to launch.

Most brands fail at the online channel (or think they’re failing) because it’s not a part of their culture (more on that here: There Will Be Blood). Many of the Journalists at today’s conference were pulling out the old, “How do you make money with a Blog?” or “No one is willing to pay me to Blog, and writing is how I make my living” types of sentiments. So, why not experiment and see if those statements really do hold up?

Here’s what you can do by making the Internet your Media Lab…

  • You can start sharing the content that has, traditionally, lived and died on paper.
  • You can open that content up to comments and commentary.
  • You can figure out what people like about it, what they don’t like and how long they spent with your content (try Google Analytics).
  • You can figure out if your content resonates (if it does, people will spread it on their own volition).
  • You can ask people to subscribe to your content (and track how many people actually care about what you’re doing).
  • You can sell ads on your space.
  • You can sell sponsorship on your space.
  • You can put Google AdWords on your space.
  • You can collect data (email addresses, profile information, etc…).
  • You can set-up a tip jar and see how much people are willing to pay for your content.
  • You can use Creative Commons, and let people distribute your content, so that your ideas can spread.
  • You can use the platform to expand your content into other media. If you’re writing, why not try audio, video, images, etc…?
  • You can engage in the comments and commentary you get as a way to build community and spark new ideas for content.
  • You can use your space like a mental gym: work out your content, daily, so that it stays fit, healthy and in shape.
  • You can use your space as a Media Lab to push your critical thinking into new directions (more on that here: Blogging Still Matters… Now More Than Ever).
  • You may get invited to speak somewhere, meet new people or learn a thing or two (or a thousand) about how people really connect with what you are doing.

… And that’s just the beginning.

Once you begin your new Media Lab, you will start to meet new people. If you’re truly connecting to them, other things will happen and you will uncover amazing strategic byproducts from your Media Lab actions. These might be PR and Marketing related, they may be new business development opportunities or you may just learn a whole new way to do what you love to do. Worse comes to worst, you will learn – in short order – that this is not for you or that your content doesn’t have the audience you once suspected.

… And one more thing…

It’s free. Well, that’s not true. You will have to pay in terms of time, effort and sweat equity, but the platforms can be free to start off (you may want to switch to a more sophisticated and flexible platform if your idea really takes off). Remember, never before – in the history of civilization – has one individual (yes, we’re talking about you) had the ability to have a thought, and be able to publish it – as professional content – in text, audio, video and images instantly (and for free) to the world… and be able to measure the results almost exactly and in near real-time.

What are you waiting for?