It’s your community, not your audience

Two approaches, either we overvalue the concept of an audience o we undervalue the meaning of a community. The public is not your community, audience is not the community neither.

Public is the part of the market that it’s eager to listen what we have to say, but not necessarily has to. Audience are those who really listen to use and the community is those who we must listen.

  • Connect, don’t be a pain in the ass.
  • Listen, shut up.
  • Reply, it’s not about you.
  • Care.
  • Help, don’t offer.
  • Lead, don’t manage.
  • Share, don’t sell.
  • Consolidate, don’t gossip.
  • Give, don’t wait.
  • Add.
  • Push, don’t instigate.
  • Enhance, don’t ignore.
  • Show, don’t hide.
  • Educate, don’t talk.

The people you think they should listen to you are precisely the ones you should listen. It’s your community, not your audience.

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The theory of a new Internet

The Internet is a human forward motion machine, basically because connections scale. In that precise moment, information begets for more information and influence, paradoxically this allows other people connecting easily amongst them, that collision provokes the effect that anyone with talent or passion will be able to create the connection that increase the impact of the action, interaction o relationship.

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A “how to” solution for life-changing messages

You suddenly get an email, LinkedIn or Facebook message, a DM on Twitter or, better still, a Whatsapp message regarding a life-altering project, conference or idea. You know the one; the train that only goes by once in a lifetime (even if you receive “life-changing messages” of the sort every day!) The thing is: this is the project of a lifetime if you’re willing to do it selflessly. Oh well!

solution life-changing messages

Answering a life-changing message

I offer you a series of tips, questions and issues to mention whenever a “life-changing message” arrives in your inbox:

1. Formality: “Thank you [person’s name] for thinking of me for such an opportunity. I feel truly flattered. I find your proposal really interesting [that is, if you really find it interesting; otherwise, you’re better off ending your message soon in a direct, yet polite and elegant manner.] I have a few questions that could help me to better understand it.”

2. Intro: “What you propose sounds really good and I’m willing to get on board. However, in order to focus my energy on your idea I need something other than a simple goals-based incentive. I need to see that you believe in me as much as you say you do. What would you call that trust, interest and passion for me and my work?”.

3. Attack: “If possible, I’d like you to get into the following issues in detail:”

  • What can you offer me that can be of interest to me?
  • How would this help me strengthen what I’m currently doing?
  • What do you know about me?
  • How do you know that what I do can strengthen what you’re looking for?
  • What would my goals be exactly?
  • How will you assess whether or not I meet those goals?
  • Besides what I stand to gain if I accept, what else would I gain if I meet the goals?
  • What would be my specific objectives and responsibilities were I to become a part of your (company, event, etc.)?
  • What is the duration of the project / idea / collaboration / workshops?
  • What resources would be available to me (team, transport, expenses, equipment, budget, etc.)?
  • Can I count on the people I work with?
  • Can you send me a contract with everything we’ve talked about?

4. End: “I think that once these issues are clarified, if we’re on the same page then we’ll be able to get down to it and start whenever you’re ready.” (Here’s where you include the final greetings).

And then…

There are two options after this. Firstly, you never hear from that person again. Secondly, they get back to you. If their answer has nothing to do with your questions or, simply, if they don’t answer them directly, then you can politely say ‘thanks but no thanks’ and move on to something else. If they do answer specifically and to the point but you’re not interested, then same again. Otherwise, if you’re interested, get on with it!

This post is yours. Copy it, save it on your Evernote, on Del.ici.ous or in your notes. You can use it as a template whenever you feel like it. It will save you time and bother every time you get one of these life-changing messages.

Was this a useful tool?

Photo credit: Will Lion.

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How to Create Human Relations with your Online Community

You can’t create a community without strong, cohesive human relations (regardless of whether these are online or offline). Without them, it won’t be happening. If you don’t have an emotional tie, forget about creating a community; people just won’t show up!.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen overnight. As you must already be aware of, this takes time and, rather than time, it requires creating solid relationships that help you shape such a community. Relationships are based on trust and such trust must be believable, valuable and loyal.

human relations online community

Adding value can take many shapes. You need to learn how your audience views the world, what they like, how they think, what they don’t like, how they perceive you and much more. Value could come in the shape of social objects: videos, photos, graphic work, etc. There are endless ways in which we can add value in this connected economy we’re living: answering questions, speaking of the people who’re doing a great job, returning influence to those who deserve it (those under you); remember, your  words and actions can lead to a great change in those people.

Think of your audience, take care of them, listen to them and then do something. Create human relations.

Transparency

Say who you are and why you’re here. Establish a purpose and communicate it to your audience. Even if you’re here to sell something, we want to know your true intentions. Otherwise, we won’t come near you! No relationship is possible without honesty. People populating every community are increasingly smarter; so, be careful: they’ll smell you out like a rat!

Consistency

You need consistent communication and marketing; not only from you but from anyone in your company who may be in contact with your social media sphere. There’s no break here; you’re under the spotlight every day, consistently. Alignment is a key concept: you can’t talk about one promotion in a newsletter and a different one on Twitter. Keep things simple and don’t confuse people!

Don’t Sell Blatantly

Resist the temptation of endlessly posting about your products or talking to your community about everything you do, how great you are, the great results you’ve achieved, the excellence of your products, how great your company is and all the good things they’re missing. We’re sure that’s the case but there are other options out there that aren’t you. You’re here to share experiences, to connect and resonate and to create interactions that will hopefully lead to people discovering all of the abovementioned. Give them something they didn’t have.

You’re marketing products, not people.

Appreciate the Attention

Attention is scarce. Whether you’re creating a Pinterest board about your brand, writing a review in a post, recording a video testimonial or sharing pictures, you should understand that your audience has more important things to do than to talk about you. Gain people’s attention by telling stories that can help them, improve them or stories they can benefit from. That will make them interested in your brand and that means getting their attention.

Do something

This never fails: don’t wait for your community to do something for you; do something for them first. That will set the difference because, basically, no one’s doing it. We all wait for a recommendation, a post that talks about us or a video-homage. Keep waiting!

Photo credit: SFBBO click off photo contest.

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What you can do with this opportunity to create change

Communicating, marketing, selling, gaining visibility, sharing content, writing posts, maximising your brand’s reach, starting promotions, working from home, optimising your time, tweeting, uploading photos or building your personal brand. These are only some of the things that you can do with the social web and the Internet of things; but I guess you already knew this!

the opportunity to chenge things

What we don’t see is the other side of the social web; the side that changes it all. How can we dedicate our time to social media yet show no interest or dismiss the importance of people?

That is my favourite part. This is what you can do with this entire new world in front of you:

  • Make an impact on the world.
  • Develop your professional profile and both your professional and personal skills and competences.
  • Create connections and interactive bridges.
  • Start-up your business.
  • Connect with people you don’t know personally.
  • Build a community of people interested in something they have in common.
  • Head a charity cause.
  • Modify the expected result.
  • Study, learn and grow.
  • Find a purpose.
  • Start a movement that inspires others.
  • Start a new business – it’s never been easier or cheaper!
  • Gather ideas together and check out what happens when they hit the market.
  • Decide how you’re going to help those in need.
  • Communicate with and reach anyone you wish.
  • Start a revolution.
  • Educate people through shared knowledge and experience.
  • Share stories that are worth knowing.
  • Add value to your industry.
  • Create your own story.
  • Change people.

How can you do this and more? That’s where you need to step up and work towards this tirelessly.

Reading the above, I think we sometimes don’t realise the times we’re living.

Photo credit: Benoit Tremblay.

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13 ways to add human understanding to the Internet

If the Internet is made up of people, I don’t understand why brands use the Internet to communicate and market their products in a way that keeps them at a distance from human relations. If human relations are the essence of the social media, I don’t understand why no one is connecting and humanising instead of just sending out the same message 100 times, aiming to have an impact or simply wanting us to click on an ad in Facebook, LinkedIn or during a YouTube video.

add understanding to the internet

How to add the human touch and understanding to the Internet

Thinking about this, I hope some of the things included here may help us to understand the term “humanise” in regard to the Internet and social media.

1. Establish the foundations for listening: spend your time processing everything that’s being said about you or your organisation and do something with this. For instance, you can offer an answer to your audience. You may not know this but they’re the new “killer App”.

2. Respond to LinkedIn invites in a personal way, reviewing the other person’s profile, taking care in how to word your message to connect with the other party. Offer individual personalised answers and don’t use templates. It works for me. The same goes for emails.

3. Start or finish any comment, message, tweet, recommendation, review or shared content by naming the person you’re addressing.

4. Always answer any comment made and try to do what you’d like people to do with you: leave a comment, RT, “like”, “recommend”, “vote” or mention.

5. Speak positively, deal with situations with optimism, even when faced with harsh criticism or comments. Don’t lose your nerve and let humour reign. Researchers from Georgia Tech found that staying positive, useful and resonating is a tactic that leads to the trust and credibility needed for people to purchase at our store.

6. Look for ways to be innovative, staying true to yourself. For instance, use a word or catchphrase that is close to you, even one you make up. For instance, “rock on”. It may seem daft but try it out and see.

7. Look for conversations that are close to your interests. For instance, the contact made between a designer and a programmer to create a new blog, or contacts made between food lovers and the cooking blog you’ve discovered. So, make that introduction, connect!

8. Take an interest on subjects that may also be of interest to your audience and offer them information. For instance, if you’re a hotel, recommend tour routes. If you’re a dinner restaurant, talk about places where you can go for a drink later or recommend clubs. If you’re a club, recommend a good after-party.

9. Filter information that may be useful to your community and transform it into actionable points you can work with. For instance, if you provide a guide on how to install plug-ins in WordPress, explain exactly what plug-ins you need to install and summarise the steps you need to take in a direct way. Otherwise, you’re not really contributing anything new.

10. Perhaps through your experience and knowledge, even through your failures, you may extract conclusions, reflections or moments –transferred into content- that may connect with your audience and which betters them. This would be equipping them. Try talking about when you lost your nerve with a client, when you launched a campaign with the wrong target or when you paid your Facebook “Ads” with the wrong credit card.

11. Look for conversations regarding your brand on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ (hint: look for hashtags and keywords). When you find them, engage in them, contribute your point of view, share, recommend, provide information or clarify doubts.

12. Every time you want to read something interesting, spend 5 minutes looking for it among the content posted by your audience / followers / fans. You’re sure to find something worthwhile, something you can share and recommend. We’ll be grateful!

13. Ask your community what they want from you, don’t be afraid! Then, work towards making it possible if you can’t offer it right away. For instance, if people complained that there weren’t enough women in your last event, work to fix this in time for the next event.

Obvious?

I honestly think I’m not really discovering uncharted territory here. Neither is it a cure for all. Similarly, discovering humanity on the Internet or in social media is a greatly complex task. A paradox perhaps? What do you think?

Photo credit: al shep.

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Strategic Human Media Integration Model

How can we work in social media if we show no interest for people, if we don’t consider their relevance? How can we be professionals in the field and, at the same time, ignore what happens afterwards? Can we learn to accept change without doing the work, simply expecting applause and a standing ovation? What changes can we implement in the digital world to connect with and change our own audience?

I created the first theoretical social media integration model in December 2009. What I find fascinating is how it has evolved over the years, until now, with 2014 just round the corner.

How has strategic integration evolved?

New skills in an interconnected environment, the adaptation to social platforms, the different approaches to new online tools, the change in strategies and tactics towards further interaction, engagement and the consolidation of relationships, perception and understanding of ecosystems in the social web, and the digital revolution, of course. All of this has made social media integration become a more direct, human and connected model, creating a more powerful social and human web. The start of Human Media.

I have been working for a while towards understanding and figuring out how the new environment works and how a new conception of all the above changes social media integration in the business environment.

Human-media-integration-theory-model

The meaning of this

Users generally prefer connections over sales, sharing over creating, resonance over influence and relationships over promotions. This is further amplified by the sheer number of elements that take part in the integration of online platforms and tools in any communication or marketing model today. Platforms that humanise, filter and select contents (content curating) improve the chances of a social object being shared by a larger number of kindred spirits.

Connectivity between platforms results from the users’ “shareability” ratio: the more relevant, emotional and segmented the content you share, the greater connectivity you create with kindred spirits (you can call them potential clients or community). This will inevitably lead to positive visibility and will make it easier for your brand to interact with the people in the community to which you have gained access. This generates a continuous feedback flow resulting from the high level of input generated from visibility to a potential audience, connectivity with these persons and the resulting interaction. However, such inputs are meaningless without perception, understanding, assessment, implementation and reaction to the feedback channelled from social networks and from actively listening to these platforms.

It’s convergence, it’s connection, it’s human

Integration converges with an ecosystem that focuses more on connecting with users than on bombarding them with promotions. A good handling and use of the feedback provided will inevitably generate more traffic and trust, as does sharing what you’re interested in with your audience (usually as a result of feedback), only that it will also afford you credibility and exposure, and a certain authority resulting from having something of value to offer. Authority is a good thing, something you wish to have. Something which is helped daily by microblogging services, geolocation services and online publication services.

A factor to be taken into account is how, as a result of the emotional, human and relational impact of this economy, platforms remain on the outside of such integration; even in the case of a vital element such as a blog: the effects and properties that favour the people remain on the inside and build a crucial system, a resonance between brands and people.

Is there a happy ending to all this?

Of course! The agents that truly strengthen, influence and act as a lever in this setting and all its different channels, aren’t the social platforms or tools. These are only the means towards strategic integration.

How do you think that the social web converges, collides and integrates with this increasingly human and interconnected economy?

Appeared first on Social Media Today.

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Summary #SMMW13 – Chris Brogan: social media isn’t the answer

chris brogan #SMMW13This is the first summary of the second day at Social Media Marketing World 2013, recalling the most important points of the talk given by Chris Brogan. I’ll dedicate a whole post to this speech because it deserves it.

Chris Brogan: You’re not going to like this but social media isn’t the answer

This is probably the reason why I came to this event; being able to see the person who’s inspired me since my first day working in new media back in 2007: Chris Brogan. I remember his was the first blog I subscribed to and the first person I followed on Twitter. Since then, I’ve tried to read all his posts, every day, keeping also those I’ve been unable to reed (I have approximately 1,500 emails containing his daily posts.)

Chris is probably the most respected person in the Social Web. This is something you notice when you share a round-table conference with him and other professionals as important as Jay Baer or Mario Sundar tell the audience, “I want to be like Chris Brogan”. He went straight to the point and touched on topics and concepts that no one else talked about during the event. He explained techniques and uses, sharing his knowledge in great detail and depth.

He talks with self-assurance about what he does, sharing useful and valuable reflections with the audience. As the audience, you realise you’re seeing someone who is capable of changing everything. These are the most relevant points I extracted from Chris Brogan’s speech:

  • Stop 80% of what you’re doing and work on the 20% that is making your business happen.
  • Create more businesses, many.
  • Followers don’t stop you from having to pay your mortgage.
  • When Twitter makes you put on weight, lose time and lose control of your followers, then put Twitter on a diet, cut down the time you dedicate to it and stop following those you’re not really following.
  • 200,000 Twitter followers aren’t as productive as the 20,000 blog readers who receive my newsletter every Sunday.
  • Talk about stories that people wish to learn from.
  • Tools are unimportant. What matters is what you’re capable of creating and how this is useful for people.
  • Find the quickest way for your readers to do something on your blog. Ask yourself, what would you like to happen right now? The answer’s easy: for people to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Don’t work towards getting a larger number, work towards creating lists with the people who love you.

How to control your digital channel

  • If you’re not creating a digital empire, you’re missing your chance to reach the people who’re going to buy off you.
  • Foundations: a website that is responsive: we sell from our own site. However, we don’t simplify because we’ll usually do the following: “come to my store and then go on to any other page with all the information we publish to find distraction”.
  • Social test: Create a very human “About me” page. Connect and remain human.
  • Create a warm, human and simple landing page.
  • Measurements: there is only one measurement and it isn’t the number of newsletters; it’s the number of $$$ in the bank.
  • Empire: we need to improve in our creation of email lists.
  • Blog: my blog is important because more and more people find me because of the strange topics I talk about, not through social media.
  • Social Media: who cares? Time yourself and stop wasting your time on “the community”. Stop what you’re doing. Spend only a short time each day.
  • Sales: my blog produces money, it’s what I need and it also helps to sell my new products.
  • Community: mainly curation and engagement. No one wants to celebrate your victory, people want to celebrate their own victory.
  • Time: spend 39% of my time connecting with people and 51% doing business.

Create your digital platform

  • Blog (home base): here’s where all my effort is going to.
  • Video: I no longer do as much because it takes time and effort.
  • G+: I connect with my community.
  • Twitter: I create conversations and I’m human.
  • E-books: help to build email lists.
  • Podcast: I create community.
  • Email: I reach the people who love me.

Chris’s competitive advantage

During the Q&A after his speech, I wanted to ask Chris a question: “Chris, what’s your competitive advantage, besides your email subscription base?”. This was his answer: “The speed and skill with which I create content that is helpful and useful.” His answer speaks for itself.

Human

I was shocked when before I had time to introduce myself to ask the question, Chris said “My dear friend Isra García, thanks for being here”. That’s what I keep talking about when I refer to Human Media. However, what really grabbed me about meeting Chris Brogan in person was his honesty, humility, clarity and his commitment to giving the best of himself.

After the talk I wanted to greet him and I realised that he really puts his money where his mouth is: when I was going to shake his hand, instead, he gave me a big great hug, saying “We finally meet, it’s such an honour to meet you after such a long time. Thanks for being there always and thanks for reading me!” (This is what I was supposed to have told him, not the other way round! I did get to say it back though.)

He commits to his readers fully. He understands where the value of his brand is, what he does. And where the money in his bank account comes from. Undoubtedly, attending #SMMW13 has been worth it just by listening to and meeting Chris Brogan, as well as Guy Kawasaki.

However, another of the reasons to attend was to travel Route 66 and end up at Coachella, but that’s another story… and perhaps a post.

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Facebook Leads the Present and Happiness

I’m noticing more and more people talking about their lives on Facebook. It’s usually when you turn your head to a monitor or peek towards a smartphone or tablet that you realise that what you’re looking at is the Facebook homepage. I see mums and dads, sons and daughters sitting at a table and logging on to Facebook to see what’s going on. I experience dinners with friends, work colleagues or clients where the first thing they do is to ‘check in’, or update their Facebook status or send a tweet saying that they’re with the person they’re actually sitting next to. The funny thing comes when we decide to take a picture and upload it to Facebook for hundreds/thousands of people to see, or perhaps use Instagram. I’ll own up to the fact that I’ve done it and still do it, yet would prefer not to do it so often.

I’ll Exchange the Present for Facebook

We are so often obsessed by the social media fever –or, social networking- that we miss what’s going on in the moment. In a sunset I experienced very recently, I was impressed to notice that practically 80% of the people there were taking pictures of the moment for later. More or less 50% of them would be uploading them to Facebook; my curiosity took the better of me and I asked many of them, with most of them confirming my hypothesis. On the other hand, only a few were actually enjoying the sunset. They were all logged on to Facebook, following their friends’ and family’s lives.

Some time ago, e-mail was the top online priority. I wonder whether the social media have taken on that role now or, on the contrary, if they still come in second.

Facebook, the Verb

Here in Las Salinas, in Ibiza, where I live, there is a store 300 metres from home. I stopped there the other day to buy some water and fruit. There were two girls there who knew each other and seemed to have met there. One of them said (in English), “OK, I’ll Facebook you if we go out partying.” She didn’t say, “I’ll call you”. No, she said “I’ll Facebook you.” The verb.

How I See Facebook

I’m not a great Facebook fan. I like sharing my life with my friends. I don’t have an official fan page (though many have asked.) I’ll probably never have one, just like I’ll probably never be a superstar, an “Expert” or a “Guru” to have one. I do have an account with not too many friends, close to 2,000 (I’ve been on Facebook almost 4 years now.) I try to be selective and critical about my connections on Facebook. They’re my friends, those close to me, the people I want to share moments with. Not everyone. Sorry, I like to keep certain things about my life private to myself. I believe that almost all of my “friends” who are on Facebook –approximately 75%- belong to my inner circle of friends and family. Through Facebook I can follow the things that take place in their lives. I can take a look at pictures of their events, I can follow health-related news of the people I love. I can learn about their achievements, all those things we used to write letters or make a phone call about. That is how I see Facebook; at least in this context.

What about Facebook for business, as a professional or marketing tool? I haven’t reached that point yet. I still feel out of that game. I’m still trying to find out the magic formula.

However, I do believe that Facebook has changed the feeling of experiencing and enjoying the moment by the act of announcing to the world that you’re experiencing and enjoying that moment. It has changed your happiness by theirs.

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The Internet, Social Web and Human Media: an opportunity for change

The Internet has entailed a paradigm shift in our lives, not only professionally but also personally. Suddenly, a new world of professional opportunities opened up to us while we looked on at what was going on in disbelief. From a personal perspective, Internet provided a tool with which to express ourselves to the world; we began having a voice. This sent shivers to the status quo, as it threatened its existence.

System Interruption

If ordinary people (the only ones capable of extraordinary things in my opinion) have the means to express their own ideas, connect with people thinking the same as them, sharing their same interests, capable of moving the world through their own efforts, then there can be a revolution. Internet was the start of an interruption of the system we had been living until then. Internet was a disruption in the way we communicate, do marketing, sell, work, help and live.

People at the centre

Then came a revolution that was even bigger than the Internet: the Social Web appeared, with social media or so-called social networks. Paradigms were shifted once again, communication became decentralised, starting the decline of mass-market, intrusive marketing. The system we knew started to crumble. New values started to arise in communication: transparency, authenticity, coherence, commitment and emotional bonding. The core of this no longer involved the company but increasingly put people at the centre.

Creating and sharing significance

The real challenge in this online world in which we live is to create and launch something which has real significance, adding value to the world and helping people. We cannot create sustainable businesses if we don’t resonate with people behind these businesses. It had never been easier to reach anyone on the planet than right now. The online environment is the means and Social Media is the vehicle to achieve this.

The Internet and the Social Web is what we need to progress, grow and move on from the stage we’re currently at.

Stay human

You can now find work in a medical software development project with a company in New York, be appointed social media consultant for an agency in London, write for one of the most important online resources regarding social media or be hired to speak at conferences in Mexico, USA or Australia. It’s quite simple to explain, you only need two things: to be and stay human and to use the means available to you to make things happen. Are you going to create change simply by answering emails immediately, tweeting more often, “friending” lots of people on Facebook and staying at work an hour later than your colleagues? I doubt it!

We are walking towards a digital-human present, where interpersonal skills and competences developed in an online environment are increasingly important. This could be a great barrier; however, these skills shouldn’t end in the online sphere. I’m talking about the present. The future is just a distraction in my opinion, something that pulls us away from reality and from starting the movement we need to make: the rays of light that take shape in a start-up, personal brand or any other initiative. The future is only an extension of our present actions.

The economy we live in needs names. The Internet, Social Web and Human Media provides us with the opportunity of being one of those names.

Please don’t ignore the daily opportunities you have to change it all. It’s possible now!

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