Writer’s Tips | What is Your Digital Footprint? | Timothy Burns

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You’re standing on your platform, message in hand, but who is listening to you?  Do you have to get on a publisher’s train to take your message to the world, or is there another way?

Facebook, social media, and blogging platforms have changed your website visitors’ expectation of you, and your message. In addition, search engines now reward sites with new content, and increasingly ignore sites that are old and dusty. Your website must include new content, up-to-date business information, and a means for a personal connection between you, business, brand, and customers.

For writers and speakers who’ve made the investment into a well designed website one or two years ago, it’s time to re-evaluate your online strategy. The digital world has changed and the next generation information-consumers are using the internet for community and social identity.

For these customers, online life is just as real and important as face to face connectedness. As a result, your customers expect to make personal connections with you online. Email and phone numbers aren’t enough. Your site must be a valued part of the online conversation in your area of expertise. When your voice is heard, online tools such as blog search engines and the digital twitter community will find you, engage you, and move toward becoming your customers.

I had a conversation today with a prospective client, and described this cultural shift this way.

“For those in the Baby Boom generation, we measured a future colleague or employee’s reputation and potential by the letters after their name, their degrees. The digital generation makes those decisions by the level of information you provide in advance, and the contribution you make to online communities before the pick up the phone, or send off an email.”

So as you evaluate your online digital footprint, here are four measuring sticks.

A Professional Website 

Writers and speakers need a professionally designed website, with a custom, or branded domain name. Free blogs are great to get your feet wet, but when publishers or prospective clients look you up online (and you can be sure they will) you will make a more professional impression with www.mydomainname.com than with myname.blogspot.com, or myname.wordpress.com. Invest in a professionally designed, self hosted, branded website.

An Active Blog

Websites have two types of pages. Static informational pages contain information that doesn’t change, like your bio, information about your book, or your inventory of talk topics. A blog page invites your readers to connect with you, and encourages a conversation. You blog needs to be active, with a minimum of 6-8 posts per month.

Active Social Media Channels

This list may change next week, but today’s largest and most active social media channels are Facebook, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, in that order. Today’s social media profiles are yesterday’s social club. Your audience hangs out, builds friendships, and communicates with their friends via social media. You can get buried under the avalanche of social posting, so you need an intentional plan. Nonetheless, you will find and build an audience by your active presence in the social medial universe.

Consistent, Personal, Intentional Follow Through

If I was a mechanic, and owned thousands of dollars in tools, HAVING those tools in my garage doesn’t make me a mechanic. I must know how to use them, and how to fix a vehicle.  If I were a doctor, the same is true of my diploma hanging on the wall. Application, activity and treating patients build my practice. The same is true for writers, speakers and online tools. HAVING them doesn’t attract an audience. You must use them, engage the world, and draw them to your message.

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 About Timothy Burns

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 3.04.39 PMTim Burns writes and speaks to connect the dots between what Christ-followers say we believe and how we live. His work is socially conservative, culturally relevant and well researched from a biblical world view. He provides social media marketing services for authors, artists and publishers through Visible Platforms, and is the host for a Word Weavers branded Blog Talk Radio Show, The Writing Show where the weekly he talks with authors, editors and publishers about Platform, Passion, Community and the writing Craft.

Tim also teach freshmen English at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI, manages social media promotion for the multiple organizations, and is a contributing editor for the West Michigan Christian News.

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WRITER’S TIPS is a bi-weekly column for Christian communicators with tips and information about various aspects of writing. Our panel of experts are published authors and publishing industry professionals.

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