What small business should do in a gift economy

Gift box carried by man

Win-win giving

Share your knowledge with the public!

We are entering what Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live, refers to as a “gift economy”. According to Wikipedia, the gift economy is ”a mode of exchange where valuables are given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards.” From Wikipedia and free blog information to open-source programming, like it or not, the gift economy is upon us.

So, what’s a small business to do?

1. Embrace the gift economy

In a gift economy, according to Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift, status is accorded to those who give the most to others. This change, in my opinion, is a good thing. My personal feeling is that the world is abundant and there is a place for each of us. But to survive into the future, both personally and globally, we must help raise each other up.

There’s no need to fret if you embrace the idea. Think about how it could be good for you. Let’s take our business. We try to post useful information about web development and web marketing — and have even guided would-be clients to free resources. We do this because we enjoy helping the folks and small businesses, but we also know that we gain trust — and with that we gain friends and future clients. If we can help others become successful, we help grow a group that can afford and are likely to employ and/or recommend our services. We see it as a win-win situation.

2. Give the world your knowledge

So what can you do with your small business? Blog! Blog often and blog well. It shouldn’t be that hard. Let’s face it, you know a lot about your business and your industry. If you don’t, well, you’re in the wrong business. Perhaps thinking of it as sweat equity paid in lieu of marketing dollars might make it seem a little more palatable. The word is that Google now not only watches whether users come to your site, but the search giant is taking note of what happens when they get there. What that means is if you get lots of visits to your site, but users are not engaged and don’t stay and read or click around the site, your rankings are likely to slip. You can help avoid this by making sure you blog regularly and blog about information that is useful to your business community.

3. Frequently freshen up your site to make it interesting

Review your site often and make sure you update new content and eliminate outdated information. Make sure to add lots of rich and varied, keyword-filled content, and update your descriptions and keywords to go with it.


Add exciting visuals

Add exciting visuals. This will attract visitors and entice them to read further. If you can’t hire a photographer, snap some photos yourself, even if all you’ve got is your phone or a cheap digital camera.

If taking photos yourself is not an option, use a service like iStockphoto.com. Their prices are very reasonable and the quality is good.

4. Add how-to videos

If you can occasionally include a how-to video in your blog, it will be worth your effort. Users love, and therefore Google loves, relevant videos! Again, if all you have is your phone, use it. Upload it to youTube and embed that posting on a page or blog post.

If you just can’t do it, you might make use of the gift economy yourself and embed a video borrowed from youTube. Just be sure to do it with integrity by giving the proper credit to the video’s creator and linking back to their youTube channel or website.

As Jeff Jarvis stated in What Would Google Do, “Not having an up-to-date web presence that Google can crawl and search and then present to users is like not having a phone number or a sign over the door.”

You’ve got a lot to lose by not jumping on the bandwagon, but the good news is this “gift economy” has made it easy for anyone to blog away. You can start a free blog by visiting wordpress.com or other blogging sites, you can contract a development team like Deluxe Interactive Serivces to add a blog to your site, or you can convert your web presence to a totally WordPress-driven site. So get going. The world is waiting to hear from you!

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