I’m sure we’ve all heard that if you just follow a set of steps or just learn the right formula that we will be successful. There are lots of weekend seminars built around this concept, “How to Make Your First Million Using This Secret Real Estate Formula”, “How to Get 10,000 Facebook Followers”, “How to Live Like the Rich On a Middle Class Income”, “How to Sell Anything Using this 1 Secret”, “How to Get Any Girl to Fall for You”. The list goes on and on. It is human nature to want to believe these things. We want to believe that we’re getting in on the ground floor of something that’s going to change the world. We want to find a shortcut to being or having what we want, and while there are ways to get better and do more, these formulas and techniques will only get you so far. One thing I’ve always found interesting is that the person offering the secret sauce is always way more successful at selling the formula than they are at using it to achieve success. Hmmm…
A few years ago while working for a Fortune 100 company I was sent to a two week sales training in Atlanta, GA. We were given 9 steps to follow to be successful at selling. We were told, “If you follow these steps, you will be successful. The formula works.” I’m trying to be kind here but some of the people who attended the training were definitely not sales material. They spent hours memorizing and practicing the steps. In the end they weren’t successful. Was the formula bad? No, but it only got them so far. There was an element of real world experience and natural ability that they lacked, so the formula failed.
The same principle applies to recent college graduates. They’ve learned all about the formulas and techniques to be successful in their field but they lack real world experience or worse, character. Ask any employer if they would choose a college grad over someone with 5 years of experience. Unless it’s a highly specialized field they will pick the candidate with experience 90% of the time.
Some people follow formulas but lack character. As Guy Kawasaki says in the book APE, “Call me idealistic, but your platform is only as good as your reality. If you suck as a person, your platform will suck too.”
In the online marketing world there are a ton of people promising lots of things.
“Do this and we guarantee that you will be on the first page of Google,” or “10 steps to growing your Facebook followers to 5,000 guaranteed.” 80% of that is hype and the 20% that is useful information is no good unless you consider other factors that will be unique to your situation.
So here are some things to consider.
When building an online audience it’s more about people than technique. What is an audience? It’s a bunch of people who have the same interest as you. People are unique, there is no “one size fits all” formula that will build engagement with every type of audience out there. By recognizing this and recognizing that your audience has the same interests that you do, you can use a little common sense and old fashioned ingenuity to create content that they will engage with. Not that hard, right? It’s actually surprisingly simple but it’s a lot of work. This brings me to my second point. Original content. People want to know who you are, or in the case of a business or organization, what your brand personality is.
Creating original content takes a lot of work.
It’s a lot easier to share content others have already created. There are a lot of services out there that will curate content for social media for you based on your interests. This has become so prevalent that Facebook has started penalizing this type of content. This means it won’t show up in your audience’s feed as often as original content will.
What is original content? It could be anything from a short post to a longer blog post, a picture of you or your team, or a video. But make sure you take the time to make it high quality and even pay someone to design or edit it to make it great. If you wouldn’t want to watch it or read it, no one else will either. The audience and outlet are both free, so everybody is using them. Our social networks are filled with content that is anything from horrible to mediocre to amazing. Make sure yours is amazing! There are 10 billion+ videos on YouTube. How many have less that 1000 views? Probably over 9 billion.
What makes the difference? Quality, original content, and an understanding of their audience.
Want to learn more about social media and engagement? Drop us a line, we’d love to talk.