In the spirit of the Adopt a Newb Day 2008 celebration which is fast approaching I wanted to answer a frequent question I get asked . And I might ask the same of you. What do you get out of Social Media, and Social Networking sites, and how can they help my (insert podcast, blog, dairy farm)? It is a very valid question for the amount of time I spend on twitter, checking myspace, facebook and anything else where you can friend someone? It is a very valid question, and surprisingly it doesn’t have a simple answer. This article also sprung from a recent article by Chris Penn concerning the value of social networks when compared to choosing a school based on its name.
If you are someone like myself who is trying to establish a recognizable footprint within New Media then you need to be seen. There is nothing more simple than getting your name out there, bit by tiny bit. And slowly as people see your name you are considered an authority on things, if they respect what it is you have to say. “I am an expert witness because i say i am“, Thank you Don Henley. But he’s right, if you don’t put an opinion out there no one can judge where you stand on things. If your voice and your opinion ring true then you get even more credence in the space. That being said if your completely off base, ignorant or you come off as a tool no one will listen anyway. So speak clearly and the truth and people hopefully take notice.
A very trendy word, and gospel all in the same breath. What is your brand is one of the most important decisions you will make. People need to be able to identify who you are, and differentiate your content from the next guy. The best branding can be recognized both at a glance and through the ever present devil in the details. Think about Apple both as the ever present logo, and the plentiful use of brushed steel. You know what an Apple Interface looks like, without being told. Their presentations don’t have black backgrounds they have a slight gradient, to keep the eye interested.
Don’t try to do everything at once start small, colors and a logo. Build from there, how do i want my site to feel, how do i want to sound? What topics should i cover, what should i leave to others? Answer the questions over time, and be prepared to change. A good brand only works and stays good if it is kept fresh and recognizable.
No one wants to put effort into something only to see it ignored. Here is the truth every time you join a new social network, comment on a blog or hand out a business card you are doing one thing. Pushing your brand. The more networks you can be found participating in the better off you are. As an aside it doesn’t count if your there, but not contributing. Different networks speak to different people, so if you want to expand your base, then its best to register and interact as much as you can.
To be honest when I first started my podcast I didn’t give much thought to marketing, nor how large of an audience I had. That is all well and good if your a hobby podcaster. And I was. but as I came to consider my show a very serious business, i wanted to monetize the show and grow from there. In order to do that, and in order to have the show pay for itself, ie not become a burden to my family with hosting fees ect. I had to get serious quickly. I followed a couple of different marketing guides, but they all boil down to one basic tenet. Get your content out there, on people’s personal radar screen. And do it in a consistent fashion.
Plain and simple truth. When I created the podcast account on Myspace, my numbers went up 30% This was in summer of 2006. When i left podomatic in Nov of 06 , which had its own community my numbers dropped 40%. But I was in control of the brand of my show like never before, now everything is all my work, and my decisions. If i had stayed engaged with that community things might be different. But since then my numbers are double what they were when i was with Podomatic and increase every single time i join a new network. Through my interaction on twitter I haven’t just seen an increase in listenership and download, 25% from twitter in the past 3 months. But the real gain has been in active listeners. I have more people submitting content to the show and engaging in the discussion that is the CaffiNation Podcast then ever before. And that is what really matters in this case, because you people who comment, who email, and who contact me with links, feedback and everything else are what makes this podcast what it is today.
I hope this helps with the question of Why get involved in social networking, and asks you right back… Why wouldn’t you?