An outpost is a place online that you use to connect with potential customers in order to eventually direct them to your home base. This isn’t just a place where you’re advertising or where you have a profile. An outpost is a place where you’re actively participating and where you’re creating content (or directing content from your home base). Outposts are an important part of your internet strategy because they are places where people will find your content or information for the first time and may lead to opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
The idea of an outpost is one I’m borrowing from Chris Brogan because I think it’s a nice way for people to wrap their heads around the concept. If you think about it, it makes sense. The Internet is made up of millions of websites which are all interconnected (think of the wild west). When people are traveling around the web, there are certain websites they visit to get more information (outposts where they restock). If you have a presence on these websites, you’ll have an opportunity to connect with these people.
No one has an unlimited amount of time every day, so it’s important to do some research to understand where your outposts should be (which is what we talked about yesterday – finding potential customers online). You’ll ideally want to settle on about 3 outposts which are the best fit for your business (in terms of reaching potential customers and for efficiently getting your information and content out there). You may have other places where you also have a presence too (a subject of another post), but you’ll want to designate some as more important so you don’t feel overwhelmed with trying to be too many places at once.
On these outposts, you’ll want to regularly spend time updating your content (or sending it via an RSS feed), connecting with people, having conversations and networking. By being helpful, providing great content, answering questions, and generally being supportive, you’ll create opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have had if you were only updating your home base. Think about ways that your home base and outposts can work together so that you can funnel content out to the outposts and encourage people to visit your home base.
Let’s review what we have so far: you have your business goal, you’ve decided where your home base is, you’ve explored some ways to reach potential customers online, and now you’re figuring out where your outposts are online. Next we’ll talk in more detail about ways to use these outposts.