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Remember the The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, “a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous”? My kid has been reading Douglas Adam’s’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and so I have been getting to enjoy bits and pieces of it recently. When he shared this particular line, I thought that Adams had wonderfully captured the way some people engage with the web today and he did this way back in 1978!

We know there are thousands on the World Wide Web. We know they are all not rushing to our website or blog or Facebook or LinkedIn or Tumblr. Our Google Analytics and Site Stats numbers are sad proof of this.  But why do we forget that we can see them? Why do some companies open a website and rely only on some product description to draw people in? Why do some people who are attempting personal branding send a note only to their ten close friends about what they are trying to do?  Here are a couple of simple steps to make sure that you exercise your ability to see the web:

Do your research: There are small business owners who rush to create a website or Twitter account because they have heard that it is a must have component of any marketing strategy. While there may be legitimacy in the idea, it is very important to do your research to make sure that your target audience is likely to use that social media platform. Invest time and energy in the campaign after making sure that it is worth the effort.

Surf the web: It is not only advisable but a necessity to get a good understanding of your competitive market. You can learn what works and what doesn’t and adapt the techniques that are effective in your own campaign. It is a world wide marketing lab in some ways and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel because somebody else has already done that part. You must innovate and be creative but it will definitely give you a great launch-off platform if you have an awareness of what has been effective for other mini-bloggers or what has been redundant in the way someone has used Flickr and YouTube.

Make friends: Social media facilitates social networking – but it does not deliver social networks. You have to make sure to go out and say hi, and when people visit you, acknowledge them and interact with them. It is important to approach this as relationship building rather than just raking up numbers. Do not become one of those obnoxious commenters who just chooses to add an inane remark on a popular post or high-ranking website to increase their visibility. It is better to be a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast than to descend to Obvious Relentless Self-Promoter. We are all here pouring our hearts out to get people to see our contributions – there is no need to be shameless or unscrupulous about it. See. Assess. Understand. Contribute.

Another gem from Adams’ closes things out rather nicely about the need to look around, observe and learn. “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” Humor apart, there is no real excuse to ignore the abundant research material that the web offers for social media strategizing.

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