Monday, November 23, 2009

Just look at it go!

Really, it is. Don't believe me? Take a look at this...

This counter comes courtesy of Gary Hayes' blog, "Personalizemedia". You can find a link to it on my sidebar.

It's a fascinating look into the sheer size and vast expanse of the reach of the internet and how it is not only growing and evolving, but truly exploding. At some point it will probably gather so much information, it will actually become sentient, take over the world and we'll worship it and call it V'ger. (How's THAT for an obscure Star Trek reference? Yes, I'm a geek, but I digress.)

To the point, the counter above tells us something. I mean, beyond just how cool it is to count things. No, the counter tells us just how much opportunity is out there...and how much competition we face as owners and directors of small businesses and non-profit organizations. At one time, organizations really only had to focus on a handful of brick and mortar news agencies. People they could call, and talk to and buy drinks at the club and you knew not only who your competition for customers was, but who else was vying for your time with reporters.

That time has passed. It went away about the same time some computer whiz created UseNet and changed the entire world. Now, you may sell fine clothing, or antiques, and you might know who your direct competitors are in your city or even in your neighborhood. But do you know who might be in competition with you online? How often do you go online and look up the small businesses who sell the same things you do online?

While these competitors might not be looking for the same kind of media coverage that you might be looking for, it's practically guaranteed that they're fighting you for the same sets of eyes online, and chances are, you're losing that battle right now.

But don't lose hope. Because among all those numbers you see growing nearly exponentially at the top of this entry, there is help. Not all of those new websites and Facebook pages are competitors. A great number of them are also folks just like me, or like Gary Hayes, who put together that counter. People who are using the internet to supply information, to gladly give their knowledge and expertise to folks who need it, if they're willing to look.

The point of this entry is not necessarily to say, "whoa, you're in trouble, bub." It's exactly the opposite. Hopefully you're reading my posts and gleaning some valuable information from it. But I'm just one resource in thousands, maybe millions out there. And it's all right there at your fingertips. You just need two things; time and motivation. I'm assuming you can navigate the internet because, well, you're reading a blog.

Most small business owners and non-profit directors complain to me most about their lack of time. This is where motivation comes in. You have a great organization, a great product, offer a great service. You want it to succeed. You have the motivation. It doesn't take hours, I mean, it COULD, but it doesn't have to. Set aside fifteen minutes a day, an couple of hours a week, to just surf the web. Look for online competitors, additional resources to help you learn about the "Wide World of Internet". Create a google alert or Dig account (both free) to send you emails about potential competitors or about social media postings online. It will help save some time on the search.

All those numbers above represent tools that can help you succeed. They also represent online resources to help you learn HOW to use those tools to their full extent.

I'll be taking the rest of the week off, but when I get back in December, I'll have an entry that takes you into the minds of reporters, editors and producers and let you know how they think and how they make decisions on what kind of stories to cover and which ones get tossed. Even if you never plan on pursuing traditional media coverage, the thought process will help you when it comes to reaching your target audience. Plus, be on the lookout for some upcoming interviews with working journalists (both in newsrooms and online) to help give you some insight on how to pitch your business or organization.

In the meantime, enjoy the counter, and, jeez...just look at it go!

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