Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 5:00 PM on February 15, 2009:
Every regional business blogging.
The same power that global corporations with massive marketing budgets use to gain global branding and global customers can be used by companies in our region.
With our own talent and expertise - and savvy use of new Internet technologies - we can be geographically local, but operate locally, regionally, nationally and globally.
Online tools - Web 2.0 technologies - change and evolve quickly. The current tools considered useful for businesses such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter may well become antiquated within days of the emergence of a new tool.
It’s not the tool that gives us power. It’s the online strategy.
An online business strategy has very simple parts: It’s people who go online. People go online for two reasons: 1) information, and 2) to connect. They find information and each other through search.
People. Information. Connection. Search.
Let's start our regional online strategy with the Web 2.0 tool that offers all these components most easily at the lowest cost - a blog.
Imagine this scenario:
Every business in the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley of Virginia has a blog. That’s every sole proprietorship, every doing-business-as (DBA), every entrepreneurial start-up, every small to medium-sized business (SMB), every multi-million dollar corporation.
A person within the business, or a team of people within the business, writes the blog. No two people, even if they share the same occupation, have the same combination of talent, expertise, and experience. Each has value to offer.
The drycleaner writes a blog with don't-try-this-at-home-you-wouldn’t-believe-it stories about the worst stains it has ever removed. The dance studio posts class schedules and uploads a YouTube video of the five-year-olds’ ballet recital. The high-tech start-up posts one-line reviews and links to top sources in its field, establishing its industry expertise - and beginning its corporate branding process - without revealing its intellectual property.
The drycleaner tells five friends about the new blog. Three of them read it. One of them forwards the link to a friend. The friend recognizes the tiny tutu in the before-and-after snapshots in the blog post about removing ketchup stains. The friend forwards the link to the dance studio. The dance studio, both amused and relieved to see that the tutu was saved, posts a link to the drycleaner’s story in its blog. The high-tech start-up founder, whose child takes lessons at the dance studio and checks the blog to see when the next registration period opens, reads the post about the drycleaner on the dance studio’s site and wonders if the drycleaner can remove the mustard stain from his suit pants.
The high-tech start-up probably doesn’t post a link to the drycleaner or to the dance studio on its blog. Its online strategy is to establish itself as an expert in a niche. The start-up’s About Page, however, which describes the company, includes a link to the city in which it is located. On their blogs’ About Pages, the drycleaner and the dance studio also link to that same city site. Inter-linking regionally increases the interest of search engines in the site content of businesses in our area. The number of “links in” and “links out” influences search engine ranking.
Some businesses are concerned that their blogs won’t be read because the focus of their companies is too narrow for mainstream readers. That’s what Handshake 2.0 is for.
Handshake 2.0 is a business blog with a regional focus and a global vision.
Just as a company might place a print ad in a traditional media outlet such as a newspaper or a trade journal, companies place high-interest, wide-audience blog posts on Handshake 2.0.
The difference between using a blog post and using print is that companies featured on Handshake 2.0’s business blog are viewed by layers of users. A Handshake 2.0 blog post is always viewed by those who type in the web site address and by those who subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed.
But companies showcased on Handshake 2.0 are also viewed by those who are brought to the site by search engine users seeking information by the terms and keywords they use. Those viewers could be from anywhere on the entire globe.
They’re not from around here, but they might as well be, because they found what they were looking for from us.
Handshake 2.0’s vision:
Every regional business blogging.
With our region’s talent and expertise interlinked via blog, we would know each other in our “It’s who you know” network more broadly than we ever did before and could avail ourselves of each other’s business value in ways we never knew possible.
And the power of our interlinking would create an irresistible force pulling search engine users to us - to do business with us in our region.