When building an audience, pay special attention to the influencers. Be careful, the signals may be deceive you. In the world of social media, influencers don’t have to be famous. They don’t have to have a large audience. In fact, they may not even be your potential customers.
An influencer, by definition, has credibility. That’s the only requirement. That means that even the influencers with relatively small audiences can impel an action. This is gold to you, because these folks will be way more effective at selling you than you can ever be.
Everything is an exchange of value, and payment comes in many forms. As I say over and over again, it’s up to you to make the first move—to provide some value to your (potential) audience, without the expectation of anything in return. You do it because you genuinely want to help.
Using a consistent content marketing plan, this can start to earn you attention, the first form of “payment” from your audience. Remember that attention is incredibly scarce now, which means that it has increased in value.
Keep going until you can start to convert some of that attention into advocacy—people telling their peers about you. If you’re going to get influencers to advocate for you, you have to get people charged up. You have to be remarkable.
Now your audience has the chance to multiply, and you have the chance to move up the “payment scale,” from attention to advocacy to money. Now you have a business. Notice that the path can start pre-product, building a foundation of trust with content marketing. Solving problems for your customers well before they are your customers.
Also notice that building trust is going to require help from others. Your business will not accelerate if trust goes at the speed of you.
I see so many young businesses are still stuck in an awareness-only mindset and strategy. Traditional advertising alone, or attempting to use social media to “get the word out.” Sure, awareness is the first step (especially as a new player), but it simply won’t happen you-to-many anymore. There’s too much noise—you can’t scream loud enough to be heard.
Getting someone to pay you in attention is really your first goal. And while attention is worth more than it once was, it’s still at the low end of the scale. Advocacy is worth a lot more than attention, and sometimes worth more than money itself—all because it can accelerate and self-replicate. Trust is the holy grail, because it’s the only path to capitalizing.
In the digital world, credibility does not need to scale. It just need to travel from node to node in the hands of influencers.