When you look at the number of followers a lot of people have on twitter, facebook, tumblr and even LinkedIn it seems there are a ton of successful people. I've seen people with hundreds or thousands of followers and in some cases millions that I've never even heard of. When I go to search these people on the internet they seem to have a small presence but nothing that warrants the number of followers they have. On the flip side, I've seen people who we KNOW are successful have a much smaller presence on social media.
Because of services where you can buy followers, it is easy to look like you are as the kids say "ballin' on social media. You can brand yourself as an internet success literally overnight. The sad part is that many of these people don't even have their business incorporated. That's not to say that all people with a large following are less than honest about their success; but, the truth is many are. Some believe it goes back to the old marketing ploy of "fake it 'til you make it." Honestly, all of that faking seems like it would be tiring after a while.
I've been fortunate to work my way up the twitter ranks, but I'll tell you it hasn't been easy. Writing blog after blog and spending endless hours branding myself because there was no advertising budget kept me frustrated for a long time. Even when you do brand yourself and you see the number of hits on your name or your company, you soon realize if you don't keep it up, you will lose your presence very quickly.
I'm not here to expose anyone and yes we do have to command a presence; however, I'd offer to say spending more time on your product behind the brand is where you money is going to come from. What's the point in having a lot of exposure for something no one wants?
To my fellow small business colleagues, I know it's not easy. Every day is a struggle for us to try and make ends meet and people have no idea how hard it is. If we looked like we didn't have anything, we'd get no business. If we look like we have too much, then there is always someone out there trying to investigate us to see if we are authentic.
For the internet customer...beware. Everything that glitters isn't gold! Just because someone has a shiny website full of all of the bells and whistles does not mean they are legit. Subsequently, a person who has a basic site could in fact be the real thing. How do you know the difference? DO YOUR HOMEWORK. There are multiple ways to find out if someone or something is legitimate. Internet searches on small business sites, the better business bureau and various other ratings sites can help. Also, if they are on LinkedIn see who their connections are. Remember on LinkedIn endorsements are easy to get but recommendations require a little bit of effort by others. Check out who is recommending them and whether or not there are REAL testimonials somewhere. Don't be fooled by the glitter.
And for those trying to make your business work keep trying . It's ok that you may not be where you want to but don't let the hype on the social sites create a false sense of security that could come across as arrogant. Let your work speak for you and the financial success will come.
Photo/Flickr Simon Cunningham