by Tony Vidler
About 4 years ago I finally switched on to the power and potential of social media for business. Ok, so I’m slow, but I eventually get there…
Ever since I did “get it” though I have found myself having Groundhog Day conversations with professionals because so many still don’t get it. Yet they all want to find the way to have prospects approaching them, rather than themselves having to “sell” prospects on engaging with a professional. In other words, one of the continuing challenges for professionals is “how do I leverage my brand and presence so that enough prospects will choose to engage with me, and I don’t have to chase them?”
Leverage is the secret sauce for building a professional brand and presence, because that is how to create an exponentially growing audience, or pool of prospects.
Everyone knows that it is hard graft building an interested audience of potential business prospects using traditional prospecting methods as the time and effort that is required to physically get out, press the flesh and meet people personally is enormous. Everyone knows that it is so much easier when others are introducing your name, reputation and skills on your behalf – that is one of the key attractions of COI & referral marketing after all. However, you can create even more powerful leverage than word of mouth in the local market; you can create universal word of mouth.
Digital publication of useful content.
It is the viral nature of digital publication which makes it incredible, IF the content is useful to your target audience. How else could a professional spend an hour to reach tens of thousands across the globe? Let’s look at a simple example of the virality of publishing useful content online, and just look at the power and reach of a single social media channel: Twitter.
For over a decade I built a presence nationally here in little old New Zealand – not always intentionally mind you. A fair bit of it just happened because I got involved in some national issues and a couple of leadership roles. “Next thing you know” it seems I know thousands of other professionals in this country, and they know me to a degree, and that certainly changed my professional horizons and aspirations. But then I switched on to digital, and this happened:
On Twitter alone there is an audience spanning over 90 countries, numbering close to 10,000….and that is remarkable reach when you consider only about 3% of them are in my home country. When one adds in the other social channels, blog and email marketing lists the audience is over 20,000….which sort of blows me away really. (Feel free to join in the fun if you haven’t already by the way…)
Not for a moment do I think that is rock star status or anything silly like that, and there are HEAPS of better proponents than I when it comes to building and engaging with an audience and then converting that into business opportunities than me. But if this enthusiastic amateur can reach a reasonable audience, then I believe that anyone can.
What I have learned is that creating that reach….that audience…comes from using digital distribution of useful content. It helps if you think of it like being a publisher in today’s world. When it comes to creation and “distribution” not all content has to be produced by in-house staff or journalists; similarly; not all content has to be created by you. In fact, not only does it not all have to be original content created by you, but it is better if it isn’t. Your role is distribution. Providing a range of thoughtful and insightful content provided by genuine thought leaders and giving them full credit for it seems to actually enhance the position of being a trusted source of useful content. It moves you beyond being just another “look at me” character and into the realm of trusted publisher.
The “useful” part of the equation is perhaps the most challenging element of the equation. To generate interest and traction (build an audience) there must be a focus on delivering value. Your content has to showcase your ability, and has to be practical enough that prospects want to stay tuned in to your channels.
Going digital and posting the content online through different channels and in a variety of formats is the last component for creating a viral strategy. While we are all online a lot, none of us are online all the time. It is the same with our intended audience; they are not all online all the time. So producing useful content and continually distributing it along with useful content from others can not be a one time event. There must be repetition and multiple distribution points to grow the audience, together with variety of formats. Some prefer to digest information in written form, some in video, some in audio and many in visual formats. Ideally one should produce content in a range of formats in order to generate the widest possible interest in core messages.
What I have learned on the personal marketing journey so far in the last few years is that the cornerstone strategy of adopting Digital publication of useful content generates genuine interest in you and your professional services. It generates real enquiries from people who wish to engage you and pay for your services.
It generates real revenue.
That seems to be a pretty good commercial reason to consider embracing social media.
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