People Who Like People…. Are the luckiest People in the world. Are you singing yet? Put Barbra on in the background, because just like everything old is new again, to understand how to build a blog audience, it only takes a little reconnection Fanny Brice style.
What do I mean by that? Well, if you’ve got a blog looking for an audience, you’re already in trouble. In fact, what you need is an audience looking for a blog, just as Ziegfield had an audience looking for a good show, long before he ever booked his top talent.
The People Factor
Last week, I started reviewing the 5 P’s of Marketing and their relevance in the blogosphere with Price and Place. The truth is that the P’s are somewhat outdated, but the ideas behind them are not. Take the P that stands for People. People, fortunately, are never outdated. They just change where they are and what they want. A marketer’s job is to figure it out and give them – just as the great showman of yesteryear would have – what they want.
In the blogosphere, or new realms of social media, we don’t talk about People anymore – just relationships. But guess what? Relationships are about people! But the fallacy of social media is the myth that you can start a blog as lonely person and suddenly develop these budding relationships around the world. That, my friends, is the thinking of a social stalker, not a social media marketer.
Yes, it’s true, along the way, you’ll meet some new people, friend some names behind faces you’ve never seen, and become familiar with new names you didn’t know before. But, just as any Facebook mom (my new name for Soccer moms) knows — social media friends start with real ones.
The Popularity Contest
If you check out the people on LinkedIn with hundreds of friends, one of a few things tend to be true:
- They are LIONS, or a new term for social slut. They have announced to the world that they are a free friend with no strings attached to anyone who cares to link up. LION stands for LinkedIn Open Network and is an Open House invitation for anyone to join the party. You know the old Grocho Marx routine about the club that lets just about anyone in? Well, this is it.
- They genuinely have hundreds of friends. The odds are, if you dig deep enough, they have been on a board or two in their lifetime, and agreed to affiliate with anyone who is a member of their association. The key here is that they first went out into the world and joined something, did something, and contributed.
- They genuinely have thousands of followers. These people are basically famous. Again, they’ve done something, contributed something and physically put themselves out there before they attempted to link up with the world.
People First, Audience Second
It’s the rare bird that goes on the blogosphere and gains audience without first having created a following or network first – in the real world. Seth Godin just has to sneeze now and the world will provide a handkerchief, but it wasn’t always that way. He first had to write a book and do speeches.
Ironically, book publishers are going the other way, as demonstrated by a presentation done by Shiv Singh on SlideShare. Singh, author of Social Media Marketing for Dummies, notes that book publishers want you to prove you have an audience before you ask them to publish a book for you. And, he notes, your proof of an audience is, in some cases, having a popular blog.
But, how do you first build that blog audience? It starts the old fashioned way – one person at a time. The most successful bloggers I will argue (without any research to back me up) are those who start blogging after they have a following. They announce to their fans that they will be in cyberspace, they let everyone who is already attached to them talk about them. They basically, like Fanny Brice, work the room.
The moral of the story – never stop talking about your blog to anyone and everyone who is even mildly interested in you as a person. Here’s just a few ideas:
- In a casual conversation, say “as I wrote in my blog…”
- Write about people in your blog (perhaps not by name) and then send the post to them to show them how you’ve been inspired by them
- Ask people to review your blog to give you feedback
- Give a speech about your blog topic and make sure to reference your blog
- Agree to write a column for an association or group newsletter, and if not in the body copy then in your bio line, mention the blog
People who are interested in who you are, or what you have to say will read your blog. Others may find you through SEO and other search techniques, but your core audience – the fans that every rock star counts on to show up for a concert – will be those people who have some sort of relationship with you before you ever enter the blogosphere. I’m willing to bet the house on it.