The Hype of Social Media – How to Build Your Audience and Make a Living From it

There are a lot of modern day “snake oil” salesmen on the Internet claiming that they can make you rich over night if you only sign up to their super duper Internet program. I am sure they must have good intentions. However, they make me think of the American gold rush, where the ones who made the most money consistently were the outfitters selling shovels and other mining equipment. Only a few of the gold prospectors made any money and many ended up poor.

Does this mean that you can’t make money on the Internet? Of course you can, and you can make lots! I just don’t buy all the “get rich quick” programmes and their claims of making millions monthly at the push of a button. Nor do I buy that such entrepreneurs are willing to give away the secrets of their phenomenal success for such moderate prices. Many are selling phoney recycled information products, with little, if any value. Their days are numbered. People are getting smarter.

My starting point for making money, on-line as well as off line, is to follow your passion, and capitalising on some specific knowledge or capabilities you have. I am a great advocate that it is better to be world-class in a micro segment, than trying to pretend to be all things to all people and way down the ranking in terms of expertise. The are actually people out there being experts in things like transportable coffee mugs, laptop bags or Icelandic ponies who are able to live a life of passion and wealth. Finding your passion is a different subject altogether, and I would recommend you read Seth Godin’s book The Dip.

In the following I am assuming that you have already defined your area of expertise, which hopefully is linked to your passion.

As modern society moves from a sales-driven to a buy-driven market place an audience becomes increasingly important. Where there was once a correlation between increased marketing spends and increased sales, this is no longer the case Sellers were once able to push products or services, by bombarding their target market with marketing communication. It used to be like this. There used to be a correlation between marketing spend and your sales. This is no longer the case. We are in a world that no longer is supply-constrained both in terms of actual products and services, as well as access to information. Everybody can have everything and everybody have access to all information. We have moved to a society where buyers chose to buy from suppliers they like or want to be associated with. This is a huge difference over the old way of selling.

This is why having an audience is so crucial: Your audience has chosen YOU because they want to be associated with YOUR products or services.

This article sets out to distinguish the hype from the reality when it comes to building an audience using social media (Facebook, LinkedIn etc.),and how to use these platforms.

Using the social media to build your audience is a 3 stage process. Let me describe what you need to do with the starting pointing in Facebook (FB):

Group 1: Core group of Friends
Group 2: Established Groups / Fans
Group 3: Your website users

The first two groups have the purpose of

a) Expanding your network
b) Establishing yourself as an authority in your area (trust is key to the new buyer-driven paradigm)
c) Attracting people from your network to your website, to make them want to buy something (remember selling is out).

1) Core group of Friends
Facebook is your tool. Remember, “Friends” is a term chosen by the web site, not by you. This will mean that you will hook up with some people you would normally have no intention of having an ongoing relationship with, or people who are marginal to you, or even people you barely know. Think of them as your public. It is important to actively increase the number of Friends in this group.

See Facebook as a tool and not a representation of who you like, or who you want to be close to, or close to you. As an Authority, you are going to be (semi-) public figures, so make a public profile. Who you really like and love is your private matter and you don’t need to use FB to show this – but DO start hooking up with people.

Think of people who you knew in school, university, jobs, and projects, hobbies, and contact them. Then contact their friends too, if you know them, even marginally. When you meet new people hook up with them immediately.

IMPORTANT: DON’T USE THE STANDARD INVITATION TOOL USING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESSES – NO NEIN, NIET!

Make an individual note and send each invitation individually.

The individual note can be fairly standard, saying something like:

Hi Ben,

Hope all is well in your end, it been a while since we [last time you had contact: School, university, job].
I am doing really well here in Singapore. I am now an artist.

I will be launching my first collection later this year.

Take care,
Peter

Or,

Hi Charlotte,

Hope all is well in your end, it been a while since we [last time you had contact: School, university, job].
I am doing really well, still living in Copenhagen working for SAS where I am responsible for their electrical vehicles.

I am currently writing a buyers guide about electrical cars.

All the best,
Martin

To facilitate this you can make the standard invitation in a Word document and then cut-and-paste. You can then add a phrase or two in some invitations, where appropriate, to make certain messages more personal.

Give them a little piece of yourself (your passion or expertise) to make them curious and want to hook up with you so they can follow you.

Your sign-up success will increase dramatically by doing this. My LinkedIn (LI) network increased from below hundred, to over 300 in a couple of weeks, with what people thought was a personal invitation.

As soon as someone accepts your invitation GO THROUGH THEIR LIST OF FRIENDS and see if there is anyone you know which you didn’t think about. I increased my public on FB and LI by about 30% just by doing this on a consistent basis, and I still do it each time someone accepts my invitation.

Also think about who is out of your network, i.e. people who you don’t know but are authorities or public figures in your area. Sent them an invitation.

I sent an invitation to Ted Turner (the founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting) after I listened to his (excellent) audio biography – and he accepted my invitation!

REMEMBER: NEVER EVER, WHATSOEVER, COME HELL AND HIGH WATER try to sell or spam this group of people trying to sell your product.

It is important that you now start to engage with your Friends at least once a week but not more than twice.

Write about something related to your subject: When you are going on a trip, or to a meeting about your subject matter are, an event, etc. On your return include highlights from the event. This can be a link to a video or an article you find interesting, and remember to write a line about why it’s interesting or the key conclusion. That way you add value to your network, and they can then decide if the want to see the whole article/video. They will start to look to you as an authority.

Never include the trivial “going to work” or “shopping”. This may be considered nonsense spamming and people may get tired of seeing your name. Remember: You can be unlinked.

When people comment on your posts, make sure to comment back. REMEMBER your comments are seen on the FB homepage page of all of our your Friend’s Friends(!). If each person on average has 100 friends and you get 3 comments, your reply comment then reaches 300 people. Think about the power of leverage.

ALWAYS carry your digital camera (or camera phone) and take photos of people you meet and talk to, even it is only remotely related to your subject. Immediately add the photos to your FB page and then “tag” people (if they are not on FB tell them in your invitations that you have posted their photo on FB), this way they get a message on their wall which will be seen by all their Friends. This is a powerful way to build interest towards you.

2) Groups

Groups are special interest groups where all 130 million (!) FB members can join, if this is a subject that interests them. Groups enable you to to get yourself known.

Join other Groups too. Not only will this enable you to expand your subject matter knowledge before creating your own Group but it will also enable you to increase your Friends.

When you join a Group be active and contribute.. People will then want to be Friends with you and request this. People generally want to hook up with people who they consider knowledgeable, a leader.

There is an old adage in sales, which says that people buy from people they like. The more time they spend with a sales person, the more will like the sales person.

For Groups it is even more important you try to think of who (out of your network) you would like to join your Group and sent them an invitation.

The Group on LI should be a Common Interest Group. This is not the same as a FB Fan Page.

You will of course make an announcement on your FB/LI home page that you have created this Group. When your Friends join your Group, it will be seen, you’ve guessed it, by their Friends.

When new Members join your Group, make sure you send them a short note to welcome them to the Group, tell them what’s going on, what your background is. Invite their comments. As with your invitations, you can make a template, which you can then personalise for each welcome note. Being new to a Group is like going to a party, not knowing anyone. It is nice to have the host welcoming you and “showing” you around a little.

AGAIN, when people comment on your posts, make sure to comment back. REMEMBER your comment is seen on the FB homepage page of all of our your Friend’s Friends(!).

Use the Tagging function in Groups.

REMEMBER: NEVER EVER, WHATSOEVER, COME HELL AND HIGH WATER try to sell or spam this group of people with your product. Think relationships, not business.

However, you do want to post your comments, input, videos and podcast links on regular intervals.

Doing this thoroughly and consistently, you should be able to build a large following in a couple of months, in time for the launch of your product or service.

FB has a group-like function called Fan Page, which is sort of an in-between a Group and a website. It is a good way to start interacting a little closer with your audience before introducing your own website.

3) Your website
Now we know how to get you known, increase your public and establish yourself as an authority in your field. Now we need to Build your Brand!

Many people start with building a fancy (and expensive) website after which they realise that they have nobody visiting the site. It is much better to build your audience first, so people want to know when you are going to open shop, in this case your website, and then have a massive number of visitors, when you finally open your doors to the site.

With an established audience on social media it is much easier to attract people to your website. You have established yourself as an authority, and your audience has already accepted your role. Now making comments with links to your website is a natural progression.

Today building a website, does not necessary requires a large investment. Depending on your product, a website may come across as too salesy. As an alternative, you can to go to WordPress and download one of the thousands of free themes and build your website from this platform. WordPress is a blog platform, and a blog is a great way to interact with your audience,. From the WordPress site you can chose one of the domain name registrars and hosting services which will cost your less than $ 10/month. These offer excellent and almost unlimited services. WordPress also offers you hundreds of plug-ins that will enable you to customize your site for free. WordPress and handling plug-ins does require some technical understanding, and if you don’t feel up to handling this part, you can outsource this for a fraction of the cost, compared to building your own site.

We are now able to close the circle from the beginning of this article, where we talked about that the market place has generally moved to a buyer-driven market place. If you successfully build and engage with your audience, then after a while they will want “a piece of you” and this is your opportunity to let your audience buy stuff you are offering. NOTE: I specifically didn’t say “sell” your stuff, I specifically said that your audience will start to “buy” your stuff. There is a significant difference and this is a real commercial sweet-spot to be in, which you will only reach if you get an audience and establish yourself as an authority.

Now start building your audience around your passion!

Social Media in Recruiting – Whats the Buzz?

Facebook – LinkedIn – Social Media – What’s the Buzz?

Facebook is currently “The Social Media” site on the Internet. LinkedIn is the site most often used for “Professional Networking”.

Which site works best for Recruiting New Talent for your Firm?

What are the differences – are there any?

In the early 2000-2006 era a number of “Social Media site were born, among them Facebook and LinkedIn

Let’s talk a bit about social media, what that means really – to most people. Social Media has a couple of different meanings I think – depending on who you talk to.

I would like to propose that the term “Social Media” be relegated to just that – SOCIAL MEDIA.

Facebook does a great job of letting Susie show off her new dog or Molly talk about what a great time she had with her kids at Disneyland over the weekend. Facebook also lets Bill post pictures of all of the fun he and his buddies had getting hammered at the beach last weekend. Those are SOCIAL functions and most likely are not appropriate images you would necessarily want to share with the new hiring manager who you are trying to impress.

HOWEVER –

Facebook has an appetite to be the dominant player in both the Social Media niche and the Professional Job/Jobseeker Niche – so they will do what they seem to do best – innovate – add new features. Enter Branchout – a new feature on Facebook created by a team, with backgrounds in the social media industry and online recruiting; funded by some of the original investors in Facebook.

Here are the important components offered on Facebook through “Branchout”

1. You can now create a professional Profile – No Social stuff here just work history, Education and endorsements – stuff like that
2. Search Jobs – Use Location, Industry and Job Title – Good for general job searches; so far about 3 million
3. Send out invitations to Connect – pretty standard stuff – but a good way to grow your network
4. Search for a company – see everyone who works there and connect with friends or ask friends to introduce you to other within the company – this sounds cool.

Will Facebook become a player in the Job/Jobseeker market niche – almost certainly – they have the exposure the numbers and the desire – the technology will be built and change as the appetite for the product increases. Facebook has recently said that it has over 750 million users worldwide.

Next let’s look at LinkedIn –

LinkedIn actually started a couple of years earlier than Facebook and was conceived and developed from the beginning as a Professional networking site. The natural evolution, to becoming a site to network by industry and the inclusion of a jobs module, catapulted LinkedIn into one of the best places online to network and find jobs by industry. So LinkedIn was started with the Professional in mind – I think that’s important to remember.

Now it is at least 120,000,000 users strong and growing daily – their latest IPO was a huge success and has infused the company with the capital to develop and grow even faster.

As a strictly Professional “Fact Checking” site for reviewing a person’s background for “Job Fit” – LinkedIn is clearly the winner- at this time. The biggest problem with LinkedIn is that most of the site users do not actually use the site – they fill out their profile and then – seldom go back to the site – there has been no SOCIAL component to the site. LinkedIn is highly aware of this problem and intends to fix it – they will need to become more like Facebook – that is they will need to enhance the Social Aspect of their site offering. This is being done as we speak (or as you read this).

So – we have two sites each doing what they do best, trying to do what the other does best – kind of confusing. I personally use both sites and I am not sure I have a great answer to which is better:

Facebook drives me mad with all of the inappropriate ranting and junk pasted on it by people trying to be funny, cool, zany or share their secrets for everyone – anyone to see. I know there are ways to filter all of that but – I just keep deleting my membership – and then of course I turn it back on again after a week or two – I admit it, I am an online junky – and I keep hoping that maybe Facebook will grow up a bit – OK it’s me and the way I use the site – I’ll try harder.

LinkedIn is not much better – but from a different perspective – it’s boring – you really can’t do much with the site except link up with a bunch of different people – the groups are OK but most seem cluttered with junk. OK again – it’s me – I am expecting more out of it than I should.

I guess I will need to keep looking until I find the right site for my needs – from the perspective of Recruiting New Talent for your Firm – which is where this article started – I am guessing that industry Niche sites are going to be the new Social Networking/Professional Job sites of the future. Maybe within the already existing sites – maybe something new.

Social Media, Facebook, Twitter – Does Any Of This Really Work For Marketing Your Fitness Business?

Every man and his dog seems to be espousing the virtues of social media for marketing a fitness business nowadays.

They tell you that social media is the next ‘big thing’ and that if you’re not updating, tweeting or sharing something with the world about yourself or your fitness business in at least one of the many social media networks, then you’re missing out big style.

They tell you that social media is THE absolute best way to connect with the largest number of people who may be interested in taking you up on one or more of your fitness business services.

And, you know, I’m not going to disagree with them. Not one little bit.

Social media definitely isn’t the next big thing though. There’s nothing ‘next’ about it.

It’s THE big thing, right here, right now.

It’s important to every element of developing a know, like and trust strategy that, ultimately, guarantees and assures the success of your fitness business over time and yes, failing to utilise social media is like taking on Tim Goodwin in the World archery championships with a blindfold on and one arm tied behind your back.

Not much chance of beating Tim anyway as he’s world ranked but with those extra handicaps you’re completely out of the game, right?

Same if you don’t get social media savvy.

You need to use it. Period.

But HOW you use it, well that’s the thing isn’t it?

I know that many people love the old Tweeting and that many others absolutely love their facebook status updates and even their group pages but I’ve gotta tell you, to me both those platforms are merely message portals to do something far, far more important (and lucrative) than most fitness professionals are doing.

Let me explain.

If you’ve been online for a while you’ll know that one of the buzzwords in marketing is ‘Tribe’. Everyone’s always talking about ‘building your tribe’, aren’t they?

But what do they really mean?

Seems to me like most people are just using new language to talk about old stuff. When they say tribe, they’re really talking about ‘list building’ most of the time and think only about adding numbers to lists.

I’m not knocking that, list building is a vital part of growing your business, especially online, but if that’s what people are talking about, then why use the word tribe?

Well, if you’ve been around me very much, you’ll know that I’m very interested in etymology, the study of words and their meanings, so when someone starts randomly using a word around me, I like to understand what they really mean so, even though it’s kind of obvious, I looked up the word ‘tribe’ to see what the dictionary had to say about it.

TRIBE:

a class or set of persons, esp. one with strong commontraits or interests.

a group of people, often of related families, who live together, sharing the same language, culture and history, especially those who do not live in towns or cities

any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions,adherence to the same leaders, etc.

When looked at it from definitions of what a tribe really is, very little of what goes on in most of the popular social media platforms is truly tribal, is it?

Few people are collected together for a common cause, adhering to similar traditions or sharing similar language are they?

And the more I thought about it, the more sites like facebook and Twitter seemed to me to be a kind of ‘cyber city’ with people to-ing and fro-ing, taking a few minutes here and there for small talk and (mostly) meaningless banter before moving on to their next visit with someone else.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, but, to me at least, it seemed to be the complete antithesis of what a tribe was supposed to be about.

I mean, be honest, when YOU think of a tribe, what do you think of? A group of closely connected people usually living in isolation or semi isolation in their own little village, right?

They have their own language, customs, rituals and they have very rich social connections that our modern social media can’t even begin to touch on.

That’s why I’m not huge on Facebook, it de-personalises and distracts members of the tribe I’m trying to build.

I mean, think on it, when you’re in FB and you see those little red flags come up saying that you someone wrote on your wall or inboxed you or tagged you in a picture, you can’t help but stop what you’re reading or popping out of the thread you’re responding to to find out who it was and what they had to say, can you?

It’s just like a city! Full of noise, distractions, sights, sounds and… crap!

And just like in a city, people don’t connect. Not REALLY.

Oh, they may nod, smile, observe the common courtesies but there’s no connection, is there? There’s not much in most social media either.

People are proud of the number of ‘friends’ they have following them but they’re not really friends are they? Not most of them, at least. If you’re at all unsure about that then send out a status update and ask to borrow £5 and see how many of your friends will pop that into paypal for you…

So, where am I heading with my mad ramble?

Well, it’s simple and obvious really.

If FB and Twitter are ‘cities’ and cities are not conducive to building a truly connected tribe then the only thing that makes sense is to give your tribe a community of its own. A place where they all share a common aim, where they all speak the same language, where they’re all connected by a feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves.

They need a VILLAGE!

PTSA is a village. it’s only small with some 600 members from the fitness profession and actually, only about 50 are true regular contributors but there’s a connection, a common aim (to be great coaches) a common language (KCA, IPC etc) and definitely a feeling of connectedness.

Do you think this would have happened with FB or Twitter?

My other ‘village’ has almost 5200 members right now, most of whom are connected through my Elimination diet, Magic Hundred Program or one of my online challenges that I run regularly throughout the year.

They communicate with each other frequently (hundreds of posts a day), they support each other, speak the same language and share a common aim and they LOVE being part of something bigger than themselves.

Do you think you that you can get 5200 people supporting each other in this way on FB and Twitter?

Maybe you can, but I haven’t seen much evidence of this.

And you know, as well as creating these tribes of incredible people, I’ve also managed to monetise both villages to the tune of well over 6-figures a year.

My point is (and i’m sure that there are many people who may argue) that the BIG social media platforms are great for general socialising, chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, making announcements, advertising and pointing people to other things that you may want them to see but in terms of building, growing and supporting your tribe it leaves a lot to be desired.

That why you MUST have a village (community site). Your tribe needs a place to live and YOU owe it to them to build it for them.

There are plenty of great platforms for building your village (I choose Ning because it’s easy) so there’s no excuse not to get building.

Build your village, invite your tribe, keep them connected and a funny thing happens.

You make money, almost without trying.

Build your village!