In February, a friend who is an excellent personal trainer asked me how she could use social media to improve her business and attract clients. “What’s the difference between a Web site, a blog, Facebook, LinkedIN, and Twitter?” she asked me. She already had a Facebook account to connect with friends and family. I remembered an anecdote I heard at a conference, a clothing analogy for some of the social networking tools:
LinkedIn is like your “business attire” for your professional contacts. Twitter is your “business casual” wear. For example, you can use it to make informal connections with colleagues you meet at conferences to get to know them better. And Facebook is “weekend wear” — flip flops and shorts, meant for your friends and family.
“Well why do I need a Web page?” She asked. I had to think about this one. Did she really need to register a domain name and set up a site, with all these tools at her disposal? The answer is a definite “yes.” I judge a business by the quality of their Web site. Maybe I’m a bit of a snob, with my roots in Web content development, but I usually choose the restaurant or a hotel with a higher quality Web site unless I have a strong reason to do otherwise. I don’t think I’m alone in this. So I explained to her that as a solo practitioner, she needed to establish her professional presence with a Web site. I even suggested “TrainWithJess.com” which she loved.
Then she asked, “why do I need a blog?” So I gave her another analogy. “Your Web site is like your office building, it’s your home base. Your blog is like the landscaping / garden out front that shows that this building is occupied and cared for.” And then, the final question:
“Why do I need Twitter?”
“Twitter serves as a way to meet new prospects and attract them to your manicured blog and professional Web site.”
That was two months ago, and since then Jessica has created her own Web site, complete with a blog and Twitter feed. She even found some new communities to join, hosted on Ning. I am amazed at how much she learned on her own, and she is already attracting new clients who are finding her Web site via Twitter and Google, and complimenting her on “how professional it looks.”
Jessica is obviously a very smart, ambitious lady, but the fact of the matter is that in a Web 2.0 world, ANYONE can self publish and have a voice on the Web. All it takes is the desire to learn and the willingness to spend some time doing it.