FOCUS: Aren’t You Easily Worth More Than FREE?

English: Graph of social media activities

English: Graph of social media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OF COURSE you’re using social media to market your business! It’s 2016! NOT having a Facebook Business page is like not having a logo or a business card…..unthinkable!
So how’s that going?
It seemed so straight-forward when you worked through that online wizard: uploaded a few photos (they didn’t quite fit the alloted space, but you just needed to get SOMETHING in there…), banged out a short description, added a link to your web site, made a post or two, invited all your friends and family, and hit the PUBLISH button. Easy Peasy…

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Do Your Audiences Have Faces? Can You See Them?

Does it have something to do with the lighting?

Whenever I get to speak or perform in front of an audience, there’s this gentle tug-of-war between two opposites:

  1. Focusing in on a face, moving to another face and so on. I really want to see if I am connecting with each person. However, unless I have what I’m doing TOTALLY ingrained in my mind, I can “lose the groove”, so to speak, and end up either stumbling, heading “down a rabbit hole” in my story, or “vapor-locking” altogether (that is, stop with a total blank in my memory and delivery, and stand there like a tree…). None of those alternatives is very attractive.
  2. Kind of “defocussing” the individuals and scanning the group without any real attention paid to any one person. While this can aid in concentration and focus, it can advance the impression that I’m just “putting on a show” and am not interested in the group.  Believe me….they can tell.

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Why is Your Audience So Scary?

English: Audience in the main hall of the Mobi...

English: Audience in the main hall of the MobileHCI 2008 conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How uncomfortable are you with your audience?

I have spent a large portion of my life in front of audiences as a musician, as an educator, as a speaker, and, going way back, as an actor (think “the class play in junior high school“…), so I have worked with and observed audiences in a lot of different ways and scenarios. If you read my blog regularly you might think that my concept of an audience versus some other social construct is a little lower than, say, a community.

Not really…

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Will You Compare the Truth About Audience vs. Community?

My Audience

My Audience

My Community

My Community

How you interact with your customers and prospects can show you (and them…) how you think of them. Without resorting to standard definitions, I visualize the difference this way:

AUDIENCE: I am in front of a group of people who are facing me. I’m speaking and they’re listening (or at least I HOPE they are….). I look into their faces and watch their body language, but it is difficult to get a real assessment of whether I’m connecting with them or not. Having been in audiences before I know how easy it is to “look engaged”. I also notice how many are working their smart phones, tablets and laptops….I hope they’re taking notes, but probably not. At the end of the talk, there are a few questions that I answer, but many more of the audience arise and leave. There is a little bit of chatter between a few of them as they head out the door, but I have no idea what it could be about. Unless I’ve given them some sort of meaningful survey or method of valid feedback to learn what their experience was, I really don’t know.

COMMUNITY: I am moving amongst several groups of people that are part of a larger group of people meeting here. There are discussions going on in each of them, some about the bigger group, some about the smaller groups, some about processes and business, and some about their lives outside of the groups. People move easily between the smaller groups as they become interested in them. I get to move through each of the groups, listen and take part in the discussions. There is a much stronger sense of “belonging” and being invested in what’s going on. Fewer people have their phones out, except to check their calendars in order to set up personal meetings with other members of the community outside of this larger meeting. Some members stay in one small group the whole time, but they seem very engrossed in the conversation while not taking it over. Each member of the community can build a more authentic relationship with another (according to what they are comfortable with…), resulting in trust and, when the time comes, that crucial recommendation, referral, or sale. While the relevance of the overall community experience may be still somewhat hidden from me, I can learn a lot by listening, observing and asking appropriate questions.

Community is harder…is it worth it?
How do you communicate and reach out to your customers and visitors?

What’s the difference to your business?

Do you care enough about your business to figure out how this might work for you and your customers?

Good questions.

What are your answers?

TIPS: 3 Views of Content

The online world is utterly obsessed with content. This takes a number of forms, from articles and blogs to photos, graphics of any kind, videos, podcasts, and any re-mix thereof. It is an attention economy and if you can get your customers and visitors to focus on JUST YOU for a bit, you have achieved something pretty impressive.

However, this is only getting harder to do well. If you have the goal of creating or highlighting something of real value and relevance to your audience (as opposed to distraction or “click-bait”…) you have to be thoughtful, intentional and resourceful while balancing the other needs of your business and life. While the standing approach can still be called “Fail Fast” or “Do It Wrong Quickly“, you still need to cultivate an acute awareness of the real value of what you publish to your audience. There are numerous articles, sites, books and courses about content marketing available. Still, navigating it all as a solopreneur or small business owner can seem like panning for gold, and you just don’t feel like you’ve got the time or resources. You’ve got a business to create and run.

I’ll keep this to the point to save you time: here are three views of content that can help you use the resources you have more effectively. Frame your efforts with these in mind and you will find you come closer to “hitting the mark.”

  • Make it interesting – There’s the stuff you’re interested in and there’s the stuff your audience is interested in. Drive laser focus on the latter, include the former and do your best to leave ‘overt selling’ out of it. Don’t be a pimp. Remember, only roughly 1 out of every 20 pieces published should be considered selling.
  • Make it relevant and usefulJay Baer says to publish stuff your audience would be willing to pay for. The greater the utility and relevance of what you publish, the more valuable you are to your audience, which will bring them back to you frequently….and when you DO sell, they will listen.
  • Be truly “value add – Don’t just shove articles and links onto your stream and let your audience figure it out. Comment….give them a clue or a question or a contrarian point of view. Provide a reason to care and click through.

Do you have any views of content you feel are foundational? Share in the comments and make your case.