There is a definite shift from wanting to reach out to everyone to having real meaning to those who are connected.
You can find strength by going direct and the reputation you build.
There is scale with community-based activity.
This article is about recognising ways to take your conversation direct and to a smaller scale, rather than broadcasting to everyone. When you address groups of people personally, open rates are higher.
This isn’t about gaming a system, but truly building a space, that is away from the middle where everyone else sits.
Giving A Definition
Let’s think about taking the way you communicate from just being social to actually being private with the objective to scale.
I hope I’m not trying to sound too much like a bright spark, but there is such a thing as scaled intimacy.
It is this…
Scaled Intimacy – the ability to build an audience and address a group of people personally that is away from a social channel and where the exchange is one-to-one and genuine.
Looking At Things Differently
Social media is predominantly here to help you broadcast. Private media is when it becomes two-way where deeper connections live and thrive.
Telling strangers about how good you are is how we have all done it for generations. This is how we advertise, this is how companies tell everyone why others should buy. Why not get the people in who genuinely care and then keep it going, on your terms?
It is something that media agency, Carat, highlight in their trends for 2019. One is recognised ‘by invitation’ where companies encourage people to become more involved by having a deeper connection to make the whole interaction feel special. This includes private forums where those who are closest to know more before anyone else.
An Example To Share The Proof
Fitness brand Pelaton represents this approach and a prime example of going direct.
The company specialises in exercise bikes and ongoing wellbeing. Let’s call it fitness as a service. There are ongoing live studio classes with a mix of cycling, running, indoor and outdoor workouts all from being part of the Pelaton community.
In a recent interview (9th January) with Pelaton CEO John Foley, this is what scaled intimacy represents, “Jenn Sherman, our first instructor, is one of our leading instructors. The riders feel that she knows their name and their kids’ names, and talks to them on social media wishes their kids happy birthday, and good luck in surgery tomorrow.”
However, as initiatives grow, reaching out surely becomes even harder? John highlights, “Users can acknowledge one another when they hit certain milestones, such as riding 20 days in a row. Somebody was having his 100th ride in an on-demand class and wasn’t getting a shout-out, so I gave the person a high five to acknowledge it.” What we see here is that those within the closed space, acknowledge each other.
How can you make it easy for people to connect with you and then with one another who are part of the group?
In the last article, I shared the idea of taking out the middleman. The article is about addressing your audience and it becomes more fun when someone else isn’t in the way. It is all about a free flow of information when you build and you address someone directly.
This is exactly what happened for the You Are The Media 2019 launch last week (10th January), it also became part of the conversation from our main guest, all the way from Australia, Trevor Young (who happened to be travelling throughout the UK).
Trevor spoke about the importance for businesses to take things private and go directly to people. This isn’t direct selling more conversational and trusting. Money comes in when continual exchange and value enables it.
Trevor talked about communication becoming private, from dark social to just determining ways to make us untrackable is being embraced. Trevor said, “Brands don’t want private, so why can’t businesses create doors rather than thinking we have to crash through walls?”
Where we are going here is very niche, but ultimate value where the exchange is intertwined and where you serve others.
Let me prove it to you. Everyone who came to last weeks You Are The Media launch was invited, nothing was public and nothing was announced openly. The invitation was made via email or WhatsApp. There was no fancy creative to sit alongside the event, no logo or a Mailchimp visual to click on, it was just words from me to someone else. If it was regarded as an open rate, it was 100%. Everyone showed up, who said they were going to come, apart from one person who was ill (Darren Slade from Bournemouth Daily Echo and he was missed).
Look at things this way, instead of thinking about everyone as your audience, why not get the right people onboard first and then go directly to them (and by that I don’t mean a LinkedIn DM, to the stranger you connected to last week on why they should buy from you).
When people feel comfortable and part of the group then it becomes easier to deepen the connection (for instance, within 24 hours of the lunch last week, seven tickets had been sold for the May, You Are The Media Conference).
The Dark Social
Taking things away from a mass audience is where dark social steps and building resonance.
Dark Social is a term that is given credit to journalist Alexis C. Madrigal in an article from The Atlantic in 2012. It’s called Dark Social: We Have The Whole History Of The Web Wrong.
Dark social represents how we share content outside of what can be measured by any analytics programme. For instance, you might share this article with someone that isn’t on a social channel. It could be through email, text or WhatsApp. It becomes something that is untraceable, but an exchange from one person to another.
People are not sharing your content publicly, they are happier to share what resonates with them to those who are closest. According to BuzzSumo’s 2018 Content Trends Report, there is an increase in private sharing. From data taken from 150,000 sites (in 2017), private sharing is twice as large as public sharing.
Whilst we cannot ignore the fact that social helps to collate audience, the challenge is how you convert it to a currency that is yours ie. one where they receive with your email address at the end.
As the BuzzSumo report states from the findings, “There is a real benefit in developing ways to communicate directly with your audience such as emails or messenger groups. The danger with relying on social channels is that organic reach through those channels is outside your control and vulnerable to changes made by the social networks.”
Direct & Dark Working Together
People share the things that mean something to them. It feels better to read something that someone has sent to you directly, rather than a blanket send to anyone.
A study from the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) highlights how we acquire content affects how we share. Their 2016 study, How Content Acquisition Method Affects Word of Mouth (if you want to have a read of the full report click here) was collated through a series of experiments.
Some findings included: When people find content (not sent to by someone else) they associate the content with themselves; The feeling of finding something helps make a personal connection and a deeper association; People who feel like they found content will associate that content more with themselves; ANY content can become self-associated by finding it rather than receiving it; People are more critical about the quality of an article if it comes to them from an outside source, rather than if they find it themselves. This points to the importance of personal attachment.
Imagine social media as one massive leaflet drop to many roads. Why not get people to knock on your door, where they know your house number and where it sits?
This becomes a place where you share information freely and directly. The conversations had helped each other and are private. No one is hanging their laundry out in public.
Scaled intimacy works when:
– You know where your business stands within your industry where you don’t sound the same
– You provide something that others do not
– You create a content strategy based on your ability to be nimble and have flow and movement
– You can continually assess and monitor ie. audience development, not page views
– You lock in personally based on your own curiosity, relevance, kinship with others and persistent with the message
– You find a way to distribute to bring people back to your spaces ie. in my case I steal from social to get people to come to my space
– You recognise the input from others who are part of the group is vital (and as it grows, even more so)
– You acknowledge others and not treat them as part of a homogenous mass
– You shine the light on the people who are part of your group and make them feel extra special
– You recognise that the contribution from everyone is paramount, these are the people who will share with others and broaden the community
– You are continually thankful, appreciative and never take anyone for granted
Let’s Round Up
The world used to be about finding a way to transmit a message and hoping the world reacts favourably. For instance, Amazon is ramping up their efforts to engage directly with its third-party sellers and help improve their overall selling experience on its site for between $30,000 and $60,000 a year. This pushes those in-between, to the side from the agencies to the sales team.
It’s all about the direct conversation you can make with someone else. If the likes of Google and Amazon can work directly to trigger their audience, why can’t you?
Whilst we can both acknowledge that organic reach in social spaces is a term that reached a peak in 2014, in the channels where you have control of the open rate, the odds are very much in your favour.
When other people have bought in, trust you and you have meaning in someone else life, things start to become easier.
The rapport we have with each other is just as important as the content that is created (and becomes the glue that keeps you connected to others). If you can build an audience and then have a direct conversation with others in places that cannot be traced, it can help with everything from conversion, to connection, to sales, to distribution beyond what Google sees.
It’s all about belonging. Scaling the level of closeness with others can become your superpower whilst we mistrust the practices and ethics of others.