Meet Avatar Dina
I couldn't resist sharing this bit of silliness from the folks at Yahoo! This is an avatar, a digital creation, that I developed over at Yahoo Answers. (Kinda scary how good the likeness is, although my hubby says I'm cuter).
An avatar is a great solution for someone who wants to add his or her picture on a blog or website but doesn't want or like their true image. (Of course, it's not fair to make yourself into a glamazon if you're not.) In fact, the avatar might help build your online persona.
Yahoo Answers and Askville
As some of you may recall, I got interested in social media marketing a while back. Social media is another name for all the online communities and groups available now. Think of it as 'drip' marketing because your actions take a while take root but once they do everything grows. You can learn more about it from Scott Allen, co-author of The Virtual Handshake.com
Anyway, I'm exploring social networking sites like Yahoo Answers and Askville.com as forums for developing information products. Here's what I've discovered so far...
Each site allows registered users to post questions for the internet world to answer. You get reward points for either answering or asking questions, although most of the sites haven't fully developed their reward systems yet. Not that it matters. Folks are flocking to ask and answer all manner of questions from the ridiculous to the everyday to the deeply spiritual. Think of it as an interesting variation on how to achieve that '15 minutes of fame' we all crave.
Social Media Marketing
How could a mediator use an account at one of these sites for marketing? I've discovered at least three and I'm just getting started.
Learn about Your Niche
Most mediators with niche practices fall into the family, divorce or business niches. These groups are very well represented in just about all parts of the social networking scene. You can use these groups to do some informal market research. Ask well-crafted questions that inquire about what custody problems keep them up at night or how the latest healthcare laws are impacting them as caretakers or whatever you choose.
Display Your Usefulness
Do the obvious and answer questions posted by other users in your niche. Other users rate your answers and a few 'greats' might make you a recognized expert and lead to all manner of good stuff. Just be sure to read a bunch of answers first so you understand the tone and exchange of that forum prefers. Some of my coaching colleagues swear by this.
Test first, then create! Most entrepreneurs, including mediators, fall in love with their products. The world will not beat a path to your door because you wrote a better divorce mediation guide unless the world asked for it first. You can use social networking sites to gauge demand or get topics for a new product; thereby saving you time and expense. Watch the trends then simply ask, what would make dealing with this easier for you?
Heck, just have fun. That's what I'm doing. And, if you make an avatar, please share him or her in the comments below. I'd love to SEE you.
Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!