When I say “event” or “Lunch & Learn”, the first question is, “How do we get people to come? Tomorrow I am conducting a conference on entrepreneurial thinking and we have over 130 people signed up – how did that happen? Well, there are many factors, but one factor should be the use of social media. If you are not leveraging social media tools in your business to build a following, you should be. If you are, check to make sure you are actually building, and not wasting your time.
Understanding How it Works
First, I think it’s important to say, social media is not a quick, over night kind of thing. People who use social media as another avenue for spam are not going to be successful. No one is going to buy a magazine full of advertisements. I remember watching one of my friends open his Car & Driver Magazine in high school. The first thing he would do is flip through to find the ad pages and rip them out. Then he would hold up the remaining magazine – it would be half the thickness of the original.
Social media is about content and creating value. What do your readers want? What will help them with the business they are trying to build? You can’t just guess on this, you need input. I recommend asking your best clients what to put out there. It also has to be something you are passionate about. If you don’t have a passion for the things your clients need, you might be in the wrong business. When the two come together, something happens – people start following.
Gary Vaynerchuck, author of Crush It, gives us a sense of that passion – check out his blog. Of course, if you know Gary, you don’t read his blog, rather you watch it. On the other hand, David Meerman Scott does a great job explaining how content should work and how to build, what he calls personas of the people you aim to reach – check out his book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR.
Yesterday I was on a coaching call with a marketing VP talking strategy and social media. His company has content, but as we read through it, we both saw the same problem – the content is to technical and too generic. His market is pretty specific, yet his content is not. If I ask him to describe his target prospect, he can do it, but when I read the headlines on his blog, they don’t tend to attract the right target – or any specific target.
Social media is a process – its a set of tools that allow me to address a people group. The group already exists out there. My job is to write compelling content to the group as if I am the newspaper serving a local town. My content has to be great – it has to compete with a million other people. This is where Simon Sinek’s video, which I posted a few weeks ago, comes in; Starting with the Why. When I think about my own business and why it has been successful over the past 8 years, I know it is because I am doing exactly what Simon is describing – I am selling my Why. In my words, I am working to meet the needs of my people group. A concept I describe in detail in my book, From Vendor to Adviser.
When a business owner or VP, of a large company division, wakes up in the morning, I doubt they are thinking about your products and they probably won’t tune into your blog post if it’s all about you. Yet they will probably read their email first. For some reason, even the busiest people go to email first. What are they looking for? If something is going on in their business, it’s likely somewhere in email and like most professionals, they head there first. The question is, will they subscribe to your media, making it part of the morning routine?
So How Did We Get the 130 People?
Building an audience happens through social media – making contacts, building trust, and building interest. It won’t happen overnight, in fact the first year of my blog, I struggled reach more than 10 to 15 readers in a day; sometimes less. Some people continue to buy lists and make calls, and there is a place for this, but calling people you don’t know, and more importantly, who don’t know you, is a tough way to build an audience for your upcoming event.
© 2012, David Stelzl