Even before 2020, the internet was a noisy place. These days, staying relevant online is harder than ever.
Memes and politics grab attention, but so can rich, informative content. And because attention tends to snowball online, proving your relevance in the first place tends to be the toughest part.
Demonstrating Relevance Online
To keep yourself top of mind despite the turmoil online, keep these 15 tips in mind.
1. Keep your ear to the ground.
Listen to your audience, and they’ll tell you what they want to hear. Use social listening tools, surveys, and good old-fashioned conversation to stay in the loop. Meeting expectations is a key part of staying relevant, and it’s impossible to do that unless you’re open to others’ feedback.
2. Know what’s trending.
Relevance is a give and take. If you’re not following what’s relevant online, how can you expect others’ to pay attention to you?
Ideas and technologies are always changing. While you shouldn’t hitch your wagon to every one, you do need to know the direction the winds are blowing. Be sure not to lose your brand identity in the process.
3. Check the competition.
What are your competitors doing to stay relevant? If you’re a fashion blogger, what runway styles are other influencers showing off? If you run a digital marketing agency, is your SEO advice ahead or behind of the curve?
Research your competitors online at least once a month. Keep track of the moves they make so you can match pace with them.
4. Think like your user.
The one person you should always try to be relevant with is your user. What issues are relevant to them right now? What needs or desires can you appeal to in order to stay top of mind with them?
5. Solidify your branding.
An established brand has a much easier time staying relevant than a late comer. Businesses that have mastered their branding, such as Coca-Cola and Apple, have built cult followings.
Devoted followings won’t jump ship simply because they don’t see a new blog post every day. Staying relevant with committed audiences is easier than fresh (read: flighty) ones.
6. Follow the leader.
Highly relevant leaders make a living by analyzing and commenting on their industry’s landscape. These thought leaders stay relevant by predicting the next big thing before their peers.
Follow these leaders, and take a “yes and” approach to their ideas. Look a little further into the future, or offer a unique take of a trend they spot. You just might be able to piggyback on them.
7. Publish content consistently.
To get exposure online, you must be publishing content regularly. This establishes your voice and spreads your knowledge, which is what readers want most from you. You can use blog posts, podcasts, videos, social media content, and more to keep your audience engaged.
8. Dare to innovate.
Instead of waiting for trends to catch on or new inventions to be brought forth, why not make a splash on your own? Not merely commenting, but creating something new will give you an edge over others in your space. Truly unique content fuels online relevance.
9. Plan to stay in the spotlight.
If you pay attention to what’s relevant, you can predict where the spotlight will shine next. Make a plan to move with it.
Say you see Covid-19 cases on the rise but a vaccine on the horizon. Creating content about the history, safety, and efficacy of past vaccines can help you meet that trend as it rolls into the station.
10. Stick it through.
There will be times when others are getting attention online and you’re not. Take the long view. You can’t be relevant if you give up.
Treat fallow periods as times to build. Perhaps your product needs some tweaks to be trendy again. Maybe your current marketing campaign is getting stale. Buckle down, and you have a shot at being relevant again.
11. Do more with data.
Research the world around your industry. What changes are being made? What is the current outlook?
Shout those findings from the rooftops. One of the best ways to get organic media attention is to publish original research. By sharing analyses and forecasts, you can place yourself at the forefront of your industry.
12. Sell, sell, sell!
Online sales aren’t the next big thing; they’re the big thing right now. Whatever your product or service is, make sure it’s accessible online.
America’s economy is based on consumption. If you don’t have anything to offer, you’re already irrelevant.
13. Prioritize stellar service.
Online and off, customers want to feel heard. To address their questions and concerns, ramp up your customer service. Use a list of frequently asked questions to tackle the most relevant, common ones. For tougher ones, don’t be afraid to get on the phone.
14. Solve problems.
Nothing is more relevant than a solution to something your users have been struggling with. Whether through your product, customer service, or helpful content, seek to fulfill your customers’ needs. Anything less, and they’ll turn to a brand that can.
15. Don’t get bogged down.
Responding to every comment you receive online is impossible. And if you try, you’ll waste time you could be spending in more relevant ways.
Don’t get into arguments with trolls. Worry about the bigger picture, like what’s coming next in your industry, not about “winning” every debate.
To boost your online relevance, continue to think, innovate, and connect with the audiences that matter most to you.