I'm often asked by small business owners (and folks in larger businesses, too) how they can keep up with all the new things going on in social media, search, and everything else on the Internet. It's hard for them to hear sometimes, but I keep trying to tell them that is the wrong question. What they need to do instead is to simply decide what to ignore.

That's scary for many of us, because none of us wants to miss the next big thing. Or even the next fairly sizable thing that will boost revenue a little bit because this has been a really bad month.

That's understandable. It's human nature. But it's dumb.

Mizaru - See No Evil / Day 72 --- 1 of 3 in a ...

Image by Saynine via Flickr


You don't have an infinite amount of time to spend, so you can't have as your agenda the limitless task of keeping up with everything on the Internet. For some of us, the Internet is so overwhelming that we do the exact opposite and decide that we will keep up with none of it. This, as a moment's reflection will tell you, is equally dumb.

So, instead of a black-and-white approach of sitting on the digital sidelines or keeping up with absolutely everything, how can you decide what to ignore?

It's not that difficult if you take the same approach to the Internet that you take with the rest of your business. After all, you don't implement every hare-brained scheme that someone suggests to you in any other part of your business, so why do you lack confidence when it comes to saying "no" about the Internet?

What I see in the business owners that I work with is a belief that this Internet stuff is somehow beyond them. That it is too technical. That when it works, it is a mystery and when it doesn't work, it's an even bigger mystery. It doesn't have to be that way.

You don't literally need to understand all the technology behind Internet marketing, any more than you need to know how they print and distribute phone books to place a Yellow Pages ad. What you do need to know is what your business goals are.

So, don't use Twitter because it is new. Use Twitter because you think it is a great way to interact with potential customers to see what they are thinking. Don't use message boards because your competitor is doing it. Use them because it alerts you to problems in your industry that you'd like to get a jump on. Don't do search marketing because you read that it is hot. Use it because you want to drive more leads to your offline sales team.

The folks with the least confidence about deciding what things to ignore are the ones whose business goals for Internet marketing are the sketchiest. They have a Web site because everyone else does. They did banner ads because they are cheaper than print. They are on Facebook because their teenager said they should be.

If you start by focusing on what you want your Web site to do for your business and you focus everything on helping improve the results of that initial goal, then you can try things and see how they work. Or you can take a look at something and say, "I can't see how that helps me towards my goals."

Now, if you ignore things, is it possible that they will in fact turn out to be critically important, and you'll realize that you made a mistake. Yes and yes. But the only bigger mistakes are to ignore everything because you are overwhelmed, or try to do everything hafway and accomplish nothing.

Remember why you are in business. Figure out how the Web makes your business better. Try things that fit into that concept. Keep doing the ones that work. Rinse and repeat.

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October 20, 2009





Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, Web personalization, and Web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.

Mike also founded and writes for the Biznology newsletter and blog, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.






Comments(10)

Great article, Mike! It's so easy to succumb to information overload on the web, whether you're a newcomer to online business or have been around for a while. I've learned (the hard way) that it's impossible to keep up with everything internet-related that might be good for your business, so sticking to what works relative to your goals, with the occasional new strategy added to the mix is the sane and sustainable way to go.

Yes I totally agree with you, instead of looking what others are doing better to concentrat on own bussines that how much it help to grow...
thanks

This is a very informative blog entry. True, the internet marketing can become overwhelming at times. This is specially true among those engaged in home business internet marketing where one is most likely to work on his/ her own. Perhaps the best thing that anyone who do internet marketing, whether at home or in a corporate environment, is to stick with time-tested and proven effective internet marketing solutions and strategies.

Can't agree more, best stuff I've read in the past week or so. Technology is made to work for us! not the other way round. I know a few who gets so overwhelmed by internet marketing and by just talking to them, you can tell they're about to quite anytime. Trying to excel and be pro at everything is just too much, nobody is perfect...

What needs to be understood is all these are just tools to get the job done just like you drive your car to get to a destination. You certainly do no need to be a mechanic for that.
I am a web developer but I do not use most of those tools. I just explore some out of curiosity and for learning purpose just in case they are appropritae for one of my customers. You need to pick and choose. Try it and if it's not for you don't feel helpless or afraid of missing out on the next big thing.

You hit the nail right on the head when you said that a lot of people are too overwhelmed with information, so they don't do anything.

People as a rule tend to over think things online. I like to call it "analysis paralysis."

Great post Mike and so true. It is easy to become overwhelmed at the amount of "stuff" to do on the internet. But as you point out, you don't have to do it all, just what is most relevant and what works. I love Google Sniper's term "analysis paralysis." Thanks for sharing!

Great post Mike. I see this almost every day - companies so overwhelmed with information from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that they seem to be frozen. There are internal disagreements about what to do next. It's just too many ideas and no way to filter out the best ones. This is the main problem we are trying to solve at beRelevant.
We leverage the power of your own customers to filter and prioritize the mass of ideas in a conversational format. Result: A list of the 10 most relevant ideas - those that most customers agree with and which are important. It is an online system that integrates with your Facebook fan page, Twitter followers and/or LinkedIn contacts. You can also have a direct conversation with a representative set of customers.
Thank you for bringing this issue into the open. In the interest of full disclosure: I am a co-founder of beRelevant.com. Randy

I've been doing internet marketing for almost a year now and I still get completely overwhelmed with information. Often times, I have to step away from the computer and just remind myself to stay away from all of the latest products that are coming out and remember that affiliate marketing is easy. It just requires work and there are no short cuts.

Thanks for the post Mike.
I totally agree. Internet has so many marketing tools, but that doesn't mean you should use everything it has to offer. It's important to concentrate on what suits your business the most.

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