The importance of the buttons pales in comparison to the ability to get your users to want to push them, and want to talk about you.
First, Understand Human Nature
The buttons, apps, and platforms will change. They undergo a growth curve that levels off. If you understand the people using the platform — what motivates them to talk and to share — you become anti-fragile to changing social media landscape.
It’s easier to persuade people on social media than anywhere else, because we let our emotions dictate our actions on social media more than any other type of online platform. If you can identify a group of people or a time when people are emotionally unstable, you can tap into their sharing drive.
Find The People Who Will Build The Roads
Look for people who evangelize the influencers that you want to one day become and build a relationship with them. These are your “road builders.” They are your sharing army. They will do the heavy-lifting for you.
Similarly, to get media coverage, look for writers who have covered influential people in your industry. Once you find them, look for the crack in their armor — the channel where it’s easiest to get a nugget of their attention.
Once you get their attention, follow them closely. If they ask for help with something you can help with, help them:
- Answer their question directly
- Recommend an article, product, video, etc.
- Introduce them to someone that can help them – you’ll get credit for being the social lubricant
- Promote their book, product, course, etc.
What this looks like in practice:
Slowly but surely I made connections with all of the road builders through comment threads, personal messages, or by reaching out to them on their own networks. Once they interacted with me on one of my posts I sent a private message thanking them for their support. This was all it took. My wall became a flurry of activity. The status updates that I published shot to the top of the feed for a huge variety of people from fitness professionals to workout fanatics. The trick was not finding the influencers; it was finding the people who share the influencer’s work.
Becoming “The Guy”
We’ve entered the age of the coach. The most valuable asset that any marketer can have is not to provide information, but to become a trusted entity so that they become “the guy” when someone is looking for a solution to their specific problem.
Become “The Guy.” Becoming “The Guy” is not about knowing everything. Rather, it’s about being where conversations happen in your industry and becoming the voice of the network. Becoming the voice of the network means you are articulating the spoken and unspoken desires of people in your industry (both creators and consumers).
As your “The Guyness” scales, you will find that it’s less about getting people to do stuff and more about helping them to get each other to do stuff.
Think of yourself like Wikipedia. If someone comes to you with a question about your industry that you don’t have a good answer for, you should know someone who does. And you should point them to that person. By doing this, you strengthen yourself as the go-to person for information, regardless of whether it physically comes from your mouth or not.
Personal relationship recommendations are the best way to buy attention. You pay attention to a movie trailer you otherwise wouldn’t watch…if your brother sends it to you. You read an article from your Mom about a topic you’d never even consider reading, simply because Mom sent it. This is obvious…but step back slightly and realize that what creates large platforms is figuring out what you can do that drives those personal relationship recommendations at scale.
Practical Tips for Becoming “The Guy”
Every day, promote someone else, even if they’re not in your industry. Remember, you are not the be-all and end-all in your industry. You are the lubricant that helps people do what they already believe and desire.
If you do five to ten people favours every day (and a favour could be as small as congratulating him when he releases a book and sharing word of it on your Facebook) then you’ll soon find yourself in a position of power.
Be consistent in this helpful attitude. Share a piece of advice related to your area of expertise every single day. Include a simple call to action at the end of every tip. Everyone in your extended network needs to know what you do. You need to leverage weak ties.
No one really cares about your business, at least not at the start. Don’t share much about what you do on a products and services level. Instead, share:
- Motivational quotes
- Thought-provoking stories
- Personal funny/relatable stories.
Remember: your goal is to become “the guy.” Talk around your industry, not directly about it 24/7.
Understand the Real Reasons People Share
The majority of people don’t create – they share. And the primary reason why people share your information and your name is to show off what they already do or know.
The brutal truth is that the perception of quality is more important than actual quality. In fact, it’s hard to create original content these days unless you have proprietary data of some kind — research, studies, personal experience.
But that doesn’t matter, because few people share content based on their assessment of its quality. Instead they share because:
- It’s funny
- They want to become part of a group or strengthen their position within one
- They are consciously or unconsciously using the information to selectively self represent
None of those reasons touch on the quality of the information, unless you’re trying to signal to a group of quality-obsessed people that you too enjoy high-quality content.
Allow others to publicly justify their own thoughts and passions through your material.
Pressing the share button has become a way to show off to the world what you want others to think of you. This means that profound information doesn’t share well. Nobody wants to show off that they’re ignorant towards a subject unless that subject is truly spectacular.
Commenting on Other People’s Platforms
Don’t make people work harder than they need to. Keep your writing short, simple, and easy to read.
If you’re getting into a debate with someone, remember that your main point isn’t to convince that person that they’re wrong. It’s to convince the vast majority of people who simply consume that argument that you are the more trustworthy person.
Try this: scan the comments in a thread on your platform and look for one that opposes a viewpoint that you agree with. Take as long as you need to compose a full, well-thought out, and well-articulated response. Post it once, and leave. Never engage in back and forth because if you do, you lose power.
Stick to One Platform
If you want to write, create videos that support your blog. If you decide to make videos, use the blog posts to support the video. If you podcast, then use your writing and video to support your podcast. Have one central gathering place and use all other types of media to feed into it.
How to Approach Writing Posts
Spend your time writing 1-3 really good posts each month and promote the heck out of them. Find groups related to your niche and network, attend events, reach out to other bloggers and add value, do anything you can to get an audience back to your site. Once you have a good readership, you can choose whether or not to post more often.
Every post must have at least one actionable step that the reader can immediately take to solve the problem from the post.
A blog post with three tax tips isn’t special. Any accountant can write that. A blog post about how you saved a client thousands of dollars is effective. Better yet, add a picture of the postcard they sent you from the vacation they can now afford. I’d hire you.
- Answer questions sent in by readers. Whenever you get a question, answer it publicly on your blog or social media outlet (or both) and be sure to mention that a reader sent in the question.
- Reach out to well-known bloggers. Ask permission to repost their old material giving them sole credit as the author and a link back to their site. Most industry experts have years’ worth of old material that collects dust. They’re ecstatic when somebody wants to republish it. When the post is live, send them a message with the link saying thank you. They might just share it, passing on some of their credibility to you. This is largely how I built up my platform in the early stages.
Automate and outsource other aspects of your life. Hire a personal chef and pay somebody to clean your house if you have to. Never automate your personal interaction.