You will never build a community, or people that will remain loyal to you, when the focus is on the individual and the take.
This article acknowledges that to get others to act, you have to involve them.
A strong community is only as good as the people who stand together.
Getting people to act on your behalf is not about the ‘just help’ and a ‘relentlessly give’ mantra. If you spend your life trying to make the world happy, then you risk swimming on a commercial li-lo with a hole in it. Plus, it is easier now to see through those who hold up the ‘brand purpose’ card when it becomes completely meaningless when the whole aim is solely to sell more things and all we see are short-lived campaigns.
Similarly, no one is going to step forward to help when the whole agenda is about you. When the world revolves around your merits, the solar system becomes empty. We are all tired of seeing this at every level from the LinkedIn post to the press release that sits proudly about how good someone is. It now feels like part of an old boys club when reading the ‘didn’t we do well’ messages. The old boys’ network still loves Only Fools And Horses, when others have branched out in Curb Your Enthusiasm (trust me, that’s a good thing).
A Little Story
My youngest daughter at the moment, enjoys the story, The Queen Bee. It’s a popular one at bedtime.
It goes like this. Three brothers set out on a journey where two brothers wanted to step on an ants nest for fun, catch a duck to eat and smoke out a beehive to collect the honey. In turn, the ants, the ducks and the bees help the third brother to complete a series of challenges. He completes the tasks and gets to marry the princess.
It’s a simple message of if you do something good for others, good things will happen to you. Put this in a B2B context, the same message rings true. One person from a company thinks that a video showing a day in the life of the company is going to play a role in building their client base. The second person may think that three months of ads in the trade press are going to attract new sales. The third person suggests that if the company found the thing they believed in and made sure their message was kept consistent they had a better chance of success. Rather than a three-month burst, they found an audience who connected and there was a sense of interaction and over time, familiarity.
Get Others Involved, We All Become Heroes
Building something that is true is when others want to get involved. The world is a better place when everyone has an active role. This is different from you just standing at the front and relentlessly directing the conversation from you to them.
If you can provide value that aligns with what you do, then it becomes easier for people to recognise and make that decision if they want to be in or out. When they are ‘in’ the experience becomes richer for everyone. Seth Godin asked the question (April 30th), ‘how deep are the habits, how essential are the interactions?’ It is the commitments, persistence, and communication that makes all the difference.
It comes down to that old word of paying it forward ie. you do something now, so further down the line and without asking, goodwill is returned.
The only way I can explain is from my experience. The You Are The Media project has become a side project where people participate, feel part of something and there is a sense of togetherness.
From the weekly email, there is Lunch Club where people get together once a month and a place of support and learning. We eat and have a topic that becomes a theme to follow. The whole approach is to highlight the ability for companies to become more self-sufficient and own their audience. The objective to create loyalty so people want to spend more time with you. The thing that cements loyalty is the writing, video, audio content. Creating content not only has the opportunity to build visibility but put you in front of new (and relevant) audiences.
The You Are The Media Conference that is in a few weeks time (Thursday, May 24th), something started to happen that I never really anticipated. People are offering to help out.
The only way I can describe it is inviting your friends over for a barbecue and they bring something with them. The room is already warmed up before anything has started. This is something that I have never experienced. For instance, people offering to be on the welcome desk when delegates arrive with the first hello of the day, to offering to proof-read the conference magazine.
What you do is make people part of the bigger picture. You connect with emotion, not always a transaction. If you give first, then it’s easier to ask. Make everything relatable, not distant.
Some Actions, That Work
Here are some things that have worked (you can do this too):
– A newsletter features others and their side projects. Each week, if there are people in the You Are The Community that want to come forward and share a project or initiative that they are part of and raise awareness to a wider audience, they have that space. From webinars, to live events, to articles that have a wider interest, when you make something with others in mind and not the quickest route for conversion, the world looks a bit different (and better).
– Invite others to participate in articles. I used to think that to achieve credibility, you had to go to an industry expert and ask for a soundbite. In turn, the industry influencer would share with their audience and you have an abundance of traffic and people wanting to stay with you. It doesn’t work out like that. When you get those people within your audience to give a comment, it is done with far greater conviction and belief. My strongest articles are when I pick up on what people I know are doing and how this relates to my overall themes of loyalty and audience.
– Provide others a voice to share their perspective. Following on from asking people a question, this relates to providing a more significant platform to share where their voice becomes the dominant stamp. For instance, at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I went to You Are The Media members to share what being part of the community meant to them. You can read what they said here.
– Give others a starring role. From the bitesize five minute segments at You Are The Media Lunch Club for people to come to the front and share what they are doing or to the deeper main topic, the people who participate and the stars of the show are all community members. I find that the more you involve people, the better the occasion. The April Lunch Club was a session on owned, paid and earned media, by having people who specialised in these areas to share their tips made it an event that had a heartbeat. Even the You Are The Media Podcast features people who are doing good work that are part of the community that provides a wider reach.
– Being part of the bigger community. This is when the circle is complete, where activity becomes reciprocal. For instance, it was great to see so many familiar faces at Timo Peach’s, Unsee The Future evening on Sunday 29th April. It was an evening of live performance, but with so many familiar faces who ventured out on a Sunday night, to support a project from someone else, help to create an evening of acquaintance.
I asked Timo his perspective, he replied, “Asking for help with something artistic is even harder than for some other business or community ventures. It may not be a project with a neat target audience and aim – it’s self expression. And when you also put yourself right into the middle of your art as a performer, as I do, how can it not seem ‘all about you’ in a way?”
“If the public expression of personal art is for any purpose it is partly at least for inspiration, and if you go to people with something energising and engaging, I’ve seen in many creative circumstances that artistic friends have built how people are willing to make something happen. Five Songs to help us Unsee The Future showed this to a relieving degree – everyone attracted to help the production put their all into it and it felt like it wasn’t really about the bloke at the front, much as it’s my job to front it.”
“The values of everyone in the room chimed with the values of the show, I think, and I felt inspired to be in the middle of such heart and mindfulness that day. They carried me.”
The Sense Of Responsibility
If you act with a sense of responsibility and honesty where the intentions are true, this becomes more transparent for others to see.
It does not happen overnight, what you need to do is stick with something, so the touchpoint is there. It is like walking along a beach that is full of sandcastles. Most people will put sand in a few buckets, turn the bucket over and that’s it. The ones that people notice are the ones where there has been a bit more attention. There is a moat, the castle has turrets and the shells add a sense of decoration. It is the sticking to something to make it worthwhile that stands out on a beach of sameness. It may take more time and effort, but people coming over is where there is the opportunity to interact and make them feel part of something.
Having a direct conversation with others puts you in a greater place, rather than the conversation filtered by a social platform or another company.
Let’s Round Up
Everyone can become the hero.
What I want someone else to do is take an idea, run with something so they can get the glory. Whether from an email to a podcast to a live event, there are places to take from.
This is what helps people connect on a more substantial level. They are taking value away, applying their side and finding a rhythm with it. Whether it is exercising a new muscle, or putting things into practice, if they see something working their side, they will come back and want to be involved in different areas of what You Are The Media is looking to achieve (help others build ownership).
For any business to have this from others who want to support is how we nurture stronger businesses. Whether an initiative within a business or a side project, being present helps others feel easier to step up, be involved and be more inclined to support. This is how you build trust that leads to revenue.
With the conference now on the horizon, it is not something where I feel isolated, it is something where I am looking forward to everyone to be a part of, enjoy, share and take new learning on board. It is a day where everyone takes centre stage. Why don’t you come along too?
To be a part of the You Are The Media Conference, click here.