I have already had several books sent to me this year for review, written by social media experts or gurus. The most recent arrived this weekend. One thing all of them have in common, is that they contain a version of the following advice, which is, in my opinion totally incorrect:
Build a following and market to that following.
Here’s what I have found to be better advice:
Don’t build a following. Build a community instead!
This is not just a play on words.
FOLLOWERS are like the audience at a rock concert. They are set apart from the rock star on stage. They see the rock star as distant. They are part of the event, but a very small part. The rock star might get the crowd to sing the occasional verse, but we all know they are REALLY just broadcasting THEIR VOICE to the crowd! I really don’t see a lot of value in positioning yourself as a rock star, if you actually want to get involved with people. Ironically, the people I see using this approach all the time, are social media experts!
COMMUNITY members are totally different. They are like the guests at a really enjoyable party. The host of the party is not a “star.” The host is not set up high on a stage with the spotlight on him or her, but on the same level as the rest of us. The host interacts with the guests – speaking AND listening.
The host at that party will not have had tens of thousands of people attending, like the rock star did. But here’s the thing: How many of us actually NEED tens of thousands of people around us, that we will never know or connect with in any meaningful way?
Here’s one way of seeing it
Let’s be serious for a moment. The typical small business owner, using social media to develop new clients or customers and gain feedback, will never need tens of thousands of followers or fans.
- How many of those people can Bob EVER REALLY connect with or know?
- How many will want to use Bob’s services, simply because Bob added them to his too-big-to-connect-with network of people he will never speak to or meet?
How many? FAR fewer, than if Bob had built a targeted, manageable network of people, which he actually connected with. I know it sounds a little old fashioned, but it really isn’t about the numbers.
Those numbers represent people. Real people. Real people, with real lives, real needs and real dreams. Business is all about people too. If we forget that, and just go for the numbers, we place a very low ceiling on our potential.