Over the past few months I have changed my whole approach to using social media to promote what I create, and with surprisingly great results. It’s not so much a change of strategy as much as a shifted mindset.
If you create and promote your work then you might be familiar with this story:
I’m staring blankly at the computer screen. On my to do list it says ‘promote podcast’ but I’ve spent half an hour worrying about whether to even hit the ‘Tweet This’ link, let alone anything else.
Then the slump.
What am I doing? What’s the point? I talk myself further and further down into a hole of self-pity and childish narcissism. After an hour I have no energy left, but also feel like there’s nothing to lose. So I press ‘Tweet’, ‘Like’, ‘+1’ etc sending the link off to all the usual destinations. And that’s it. Then I cycle through refreshing pages, looking for re-tweets, likes and recommendations, checking my real-time Google Analytics stats.
The slump continues. The interactions are sparse. Few and far between. I must be doing something very wrong, maybe the podcast is absolute crap and everyone hates me. I’m making a complete fool of myself and have invited the whole world to watch. Never again.
That story is what I experienced, without fail everytime I posted anything throughout last year. To be honest it reached a point where either something had to change or I needed to give up.
Something did change…but not what I expected. I thought I required better content (that I wasn’t capable of producing), or a nicer looking website, or more social media networks. But it turned out that it was simply my attitude and approach to my audience that needed (and will always need) tweaking. I realised:
– You Don’t Have to Sell Yourself…Yourself
The wonderful thing about so called Social Media Marketing is that as an individual who is promoting a message or service/product from their platform (blog, podcast, video channel etc) you don’t have to sell it.
It turns out the best way to promote what you’re doing is to intentionally connect with, and show genuine interest in what others are doing. Not shouting about what you are doing, but connecting with what other people are up to, showing (genuine) interest and engaging with it.
So follow people who are doing things you find interesting, helpful and challenging.
“But that wont help me sell my work!” I hear you shout…
– The Platform is Full of Promotional Tools
Every time I write a blog post or produce a podcast, video etc (even crafting a solid tweet), I both say something AND create a ‘tool to market’ the message at the same time. The second part is a by-product and is never the reason for creating, but being aware of this by-product gives us the opportunity to refocus how we approach getting the message out there.
A blog post (like this) for example, is a message, but can also become something to draw others into my platform (website, music, mailing list), serving as a bridge to potential new audience. But this only happens when my existing audience shares the links and promotes the content I am putting out or it rises up search engine rankings.
So by this logic the best way to promote the blog would be to make friends and maintain relationships. And that kind of makes sense.
– What Happens When Someone Connects with You?
Have you ever had someone you don’t follow reply to something you said on Twitter? What do you do next? Do you get into a conversation? Do your read their profile description? And then check out the website linked from their about bit?
Invariably, if the reply is a genuine response, and not just automated spam, I will do all of those things. Not out of obligation but out of curiosity. It’s natural to be curious about any stranger who takes an interest in us or acknowledges our existence.
I can be pretty confident that others will behave in similar ways.
– A Few Minutes of Engagement
A few days ago I noticed after spending a few minutes going through Twitter and engaging a handful of people in conversation that I had more visits to the website, some old blog posts being shared, new email addresses added to the mailing list etc. That’s not to mention the great new people I was ‘meeting’ on Twitter.
Each Twitter user is not simply one new potential audience, they are the gateway to a potentially unlimited peoplehood.
The key was not changing my content, or website design. It wasn’t in finding different avenues to promote my content either. It was so much simpler than that…
It was to talk to other people about themselves. Nothing more needed. I can do that. I like doing that. In fact, this seems to be a way of doing things designed by someone an awful lot like me.
We can acheive unimaginable things if building relationships is our sole focus (I will write more about an incredible example of this at some point soon).