Today, I spoke to Linda Bustos, who works for Elastic Path Software and is an award winning blogger at the Get Elastic eCommerce Blog. In this interview, Linda talks about inbound and outbound marketing, why personal branding is important to Gen-Y, shares her avatar advice and more.
What does it mean to ‘get elastic’?
Though we don’t talk about our company in most posts on Get Elastic, the blog is actually a property of Elastic Path Software – an ecommerce framework for enterprise companies that have unique requirements that aren’t served by out of the box features of other platforms. “Elastic” symbolizes our flexibility value proposition. The blog is really a thought leadership project. I try to cover the tips and tricks in ecommerce and marketing that will help all online retailers stretch their capabilities. So whether you are an Elastic Path customer or not, we hope you can “Get Elastic” by reading the blog.
Do you think inbound marketing is the new way to be successful?
I think both B2B and B2C companies need to have both. Many folks consider outbound as archaic and expensive and blogs, social networking and viral campaigns as the “holy grail” for success. Without SEO, you’re missing a huge opportunity through search engines. Without social media participation, you’re not meeting the customer/prospect’s demands for transparency and customer service on their terms. For some industries, the absence of a blog hurts you because others in your industry have strong blogs that demonstrate the company’s expertise in the industry.
I know it’s a recession and inbound has the reputation for being “cheaper” (although it’s really not when you consider it takes time, people and sometimes a lot of money before your inbound is running successfully), but outbound still has value. Prospecting is still crucial to B2B. Advertising costs are coming down because of the recession, and email has for many companies provided the best ROI of all campaigns. You may need to scale back on outbound, but not eliminate it completely.
How can Gen-Y use social media to market themselves and their personal brand?
“Keeping a blog is a great way to market yourself because it’s like an ongoing resume of what you know.”
But not everyone enjoys writing or can find the time. So Twitter is an alternative, but not as effective at personal branding as publishing your knowledge online in more than 140 characters. If you don’t want to blog, find another way you can contribute something to the online world. (I’ll let you get creative with that). If everyone is using social media to promote themselves, the ones who will be noticed and appreciated are the ones that are contributing the most without expectation of return.
I also recommend getting out there in real life, meeting people at local marketing or tech events, then using social media to stay connected.
Do you place a lot of importance in your personal brand?
I definitely am conscious of my personal brand online. My networks are a mix of business contacts, co-workers, friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. Who I am on each social network, each blog post or comment I write, each tweet etc will live on the Web forever and reflects not only on myself but also the company I represent through Get Elastic. I always think about the impact of what I say on myself and those I’m connected to.
You wrote a blog post about avatars. What are your recommendations for an avatar that expresses your brand?
I don’t think there are any hard rules on choosing an avatar – I think there are many different ways you can make your avatar stand out (use an interesting angle of headshot, a bold color behind your photo, a humorous object like a wingnut or your company logo). What I would stay away from is cartoon representations of yourself like Simson-izing or South Park-izing your face. Too many people do it, so you get lost in the haystack of cartoon faces. I’d also stay away from avatars that make your head too tiny so you can’t be recognized as well.
If possible, use the same avatar across as many networks as you participate in. This helps your recognizably. If you can always use the same handle, that’s even better (though sometimes it’s not possible).
If I could go back in time, I would have chosen lindabustos as my handle everywhere. @Roxyyo is an old handle from my college days, a made up word. I never thought Twitter would take off and registered with that. Before I knew it I had over 1000 followers and many backlinks on the web to @Roxyyo – it was too late to change.
Avoid marrying yourself to a corporate brand, in case you ever leave or that company re-brands or ceases to exist – you’re tied to the brand and may have to start from scratch.
Linda Bustos is an Emerging Media Analyst, eCommerce consultant and chief blogger at Elastic Path Software. She shares her knowledge daily on the Get Elastic eCommerce Blog, has been quoted by Fortune Small Business Magazine, eCommerce Guide and has contributed articles to ProBlogger, Marketing Pilgrim, Site Pro News and Duct Tape Marketing. Get Elastic was recently named by the Wall Street Journal as one of 15 entrepreneur blogs worth reading. A member of Canadian Women in Communications, Linda has served as faculty for the Banff New Media Institute’s Career Accelerator Program. This year, Linda was named as one of Vancouver’s Tech Women to Watch in 2008. She is also the winner of Marketing Pilgrim’s 3rd Annual SEM Scholarship for her entry 8 Stupid Things Webmasters Do to Mess Up Their Analytics.