Archive for January, 2010
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Ever since the concept of gaining your 1,000 true fans was talked about, there have been a lot of discussions on the topic. I’m personally a big fan of the idea; especially in a time where people are more focused on follower numbers and subscriber counts than how they can really help an audience.
In all honesty, I’ve never tried to attract my 1,000 true fans. Yet, I’m at the stage where I can launch a product and garner almost 700 sales, so I like to think I know quite a bit when it comes to building a loyal audience.
Because, at the end of the day, that’s what your 1,000 true fans really are. In some regards, they don’t stand out; they are blog readers, newsletter subscribers, twitter followers or just casual browsers. But really, your true fans are the people that:
- Talk about you
- Promote your work
- Use your products / services with pride
- Feel like they are a part of your brand and your community
This last one is important and something that a lot of people forget. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake.
True fans grow your current audience, help you with your output (they’ll happily tell you when they don’t like what you’re doing) and buy your products. If you want to start gaining some true fans of your own, here’s what you need to do.
Trust In Your Own Voice
In order for people to give you permission to lead them, they have to trust you. And I can tell you now that you’ll never gain trust from others if you don’t first trust yourself. As long as you really have the best interests of your audience / market at heart, then believe that whatever it is you’re putting out to the world, is amazing.
If you don’t believe that your product, service or content is amazing, then why are you putting it out there in the first place? I write not only because I want to document my journey in different aspects of life, but because I believe I have knowledge and advice that can genuinely change peoples lives.
If you care about attracting your true fans, then you must believe that your work is enough.
Live Your Message
When I want to back a politician that is talking about climate change, am I going to vote for the guy that publicly drives his 4×4 around the streets of London, or the one that is constantly caught by the press on his bicycle?
If you’re helping people do or be something, then at least make sure that you have done it yourself or you’re getting very close advice from someone who has. My favourite way to build trust is to help people with a goal, and document my own process of achieving that goal.
For example, because I was able to build such a large audience in the personal development niche, I was able to write a very popular eBook. A few months later, I then wrote a 3,000 word blog post on the exact steps that were involved in the process. I knew my audience was interested in creating such a product, so I helped them to do it by revealing my methods.
If you’re spreading a way of living, a product to use, or a service you adore, then make sure you’re the expert on that product and live by that service. If you’re not practicing what you preach, why should people care about what you have to say?
Be an Expert
I don’t care how many times you tell me you can’t do something or how many things you say you’re not good at, I believe you’re an expect on something. You might actually believe you’re an expert on something but not know whether there’s an audience for that. Either way, you’re still an expert.
One of the most obvious ways to gain a loyal following is to offer the best advice on a given subject. If you are the go-to-source for anything, then you have a great opportunity to grow your fan base. I don’t like to call myself an expert on any topic, but I do make sure that I know my industry / product / service as well as (if not better than) anyone else.
If you don’t want to focus on becoming an expert, at least aim to know more about your ‘thing’ than anyone else. If you can’t see yourself as an expert on something, then at least be an expert at explaining the process, testing as much as you can or overcoming common problems.
Becoming an expert is one of the hardest thing to do, but it’s one of the easiest ways to grow your audience.
Give Away As Much As Possible
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that businesses need ways of making money in order to grow and that constantly giving away freebies isn’t always the best option, especially for start-ups or companies with little cash-flow. However, the strategy of giving as much free value as you can definitely has its place.
When I talk about ‘giving away,’ I’m really just talking about giving your audience as much free value as you can. Some examples of giving this value could be in:
- The content you produce for your own site
- The content you produce elsewhere (forums, guest posts, comments)
- Tools that your industry find indispensable
- The support that your company offers, as standard
I could go on and on about the ways you can give value, but I’m sure you have your own ideas based on whatever business is in your mind right now. There are a lot of people who are worried about giving ‘too much’ away because the value you offer isn’t directly making you money. I agree that there is a fine line between giving free value and deserving to make money for your work.
When it comes to giving things away, remember to be smart, but not stingy.
Now that I’ve shared my tips, I would love to hear yours in the comments. How are you working towards your 1,000 true fans?
Glen Allsopp writes at ViperChill, a blog about viral marketing. He has been with Collective-thoughts since day one, and is now making a long-overdue return.
Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
I am one of the few people who didn’t throw a huge fit when the new version of Stumbleupon left beta. I admired the simplicity of the new interface and, as with most new things, decided to give the overhaul a fair shot before voicing my concerns about its limitations. In many respects, it’s much changed from the Stumbleupon the community had grown to love.
The developers at Stumbleupon attempted to make the site more social, adding in a bit of Facebook, a bit of Twitter, and some minor changes to the navigation options of your home page. The most important of these new navigation options, the Discover tab, takes users to a page with even more tabbed options: Recent Activity, Top Rated, Shares and Topics.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you don’t nearly have enough time to keep up with all of your subscriptions’ discoveries and stumbles. These options, taking you to popular websites as rated by the community, seemed the answer. Users without the benefit of extra time could now discover the most popular content as selected by their subscriptions, bypassing the time-consuming default Stumble! button and getting straight to the highest rated content. While this may have been a great idea, providing Stumbleupon users with a dynamic and unique page of popular content (it is based on your subscriptions, right?), it really just exposed the fallacies inherent to Stumbleupon. Take a look at your Top Rated tab and maybe you’ll understand where it is I’m going with all of this.
Here are some of the links I’m greeted with when hitting the aforementioned tab:
All of those pages equate to what we call blogspam. Unfamiliar with the term and what it applies to? Allow me to explain.
This is a very simple lesson in content creation that we all should understand and start adhering to if we wish to rid the Internet of stolen content and, well, stolen content.
Every image on every site should have attributions for their photos. If a stumble is primarily text and utilizes one image that simply relates to the post, that is fine (though it should technically still have a credit unless the blog owner bought it on istockphoto — or a similar site — or there’s no doubt they own it by some other means).
Here’s what every image should have otherwise (image source links are usually found beneath the image but sometimes a single link will be found in a post’s introduction paragraph):
(Source: Collective Thoughts)
Now, if you actually took the time to visit the links I listed above, you may have noticed the insane amount of traffic each one of the uncredited posts have accumulated. Thanks to Stumbleupon’s update, these numbers are made available to anyone with the desire to do some investigating. The cumulative traffic count for the four URLs is just about 600,000 pageviews. Not too shabby for blog / site owners who create none of their own content and fail to credit other people’s content every time they steal it. I don’t know about you, but I preferred the days when I was ignorant to the amount of traffic these undeserved thumbs generated for these bogus, lazily updated sites.
So, if you’re a site owner, credit your content. And, if like most of us, you’re simply a Stumbleupon user, try to demand more from the sites populating your precious community. Without policing, it’ll just get worse.
Thursday, January 7th, 2010
Internet radio has been around for some time now–at least since the mid nineties actually (earlier, if you count it’s infancy)–and it has most certainly evolved from those early days of streaming into the smooth and ubiquitous service that we take for granted today. Odds are you have used, or use, streaming audio and/or video and haven’t really given it a second thought. That’s good, and once again we have social media to thank for changing the nature of the game even here. Enter social music. Internet radio with a healthy social networking aspect thrown in. A great way to listen to a giant, 64 oz. variety gulp of music and share it with your friends, and family, or the world. All this and no commercials to boot, what more can you ask for?
Lack of choice never seems to be an issue with the internet and this is no exception if you’re looking to get your music fix online. We’re going to talk about an exemplar in the field and try to give you a rundown of the features, functions, and what there is to like or dislike about them. So, without further delay, let’s take a close look at Last.fm, one of the more popular social music sites out there and quite possibly the only social music source you’ll ever need.
I love Last.fm! However, one of the primary complaints about the site’s homepage is it’s busyness. This may be my only issue with the site, but wow, there’s is definitely an excess of information to digest here. Sure, this may be because there’s so much available music to listen to—which is in no way a bad thing—but there’s a screaming background that users are force-fed as well. You can’t miss it, trust me; it’s a vert for one of those reality cooking shows. It gets on my nerves. Perhaps I’m just sensitive and my distaste for reality shows is getting in the way. Who knows?
Social music sites like Last.fm allow you listen to ‘radio stations’ based on your favorite artists. Search for an artist, song, or album and Last.fm will create a station for you which will only feature music by, or similar, to the artist you were interested in. It’s a great way to expand your music vocabulary by finding music that matches your listening preferences. If you hear something you really love, you can favorite it and it will automatically be sent to your own personal music library; one which you can return to again and again. Tagging is also supported, which is helpful for locating a particular type of sound or music. Tagging also sends items to your library.
Last.fm seems to have quite an extensive music catalog and bio’s are available for many of the artists. I found the bio sections on a few of my favorite bands to be chock-full of information. There’s plenty more information to be had as well, on practically any artist you can think of. Last.fm sports a similar artists list which, as you can surmise, provides you with a list of artists that are in some way similar to whatever artist you were checking out to begin with; another way, aside from just sitting back and listening, to find music you’re sure to like.
You can even create playlists of your favorite songs (assuming the tracks are available in full length of course, and not every track is). While playing around—bad pun intended—I created a very short playlist of songs from a handful of my favorite artists, all of which I’ve saved in my library. I can go back and fire up my playlist anytime I’m not in the mood for the more wide-ranging music selection of a standard artist station.
Now let’s talk about the social aspect of Last.fm. Create a station and you can share it with your friends by emailing directly to their inboxes, post it directly to Facebook or Twitter, bookmark it on Delicious, or you can Digg it. Can you dig it? (Zing!) You can easily tell all your friends about the great band you just discovered, and in turn they might be able to direct you to another that Last.fm just might have missed. There are also groups you can join where you can interact with other users who share your music tastes by joining in on discussions and checking out the group lists. This is, in particular, yet another way to find even more music you’ll love by tapping into the crowd. I love Guster and there’s an active discussion going on in the group right now that asks, ‘If you like Guster, you’ll like…‘. It’s word of mouth times a gabillion.
Another particularly nice feature, and one that’s incredibly easy to use on Last.fm, is the option to purchase very nearly any track you hear. This process is so easy it hurts. Hear a song you like, click the Buy Track dropdown and then choose where to buy the track from: Amazon MP3, 7Digital, or iTunes. Prices are around the 99 cent mark, which is about what we’ve come to expect from other music sources.
That pretty much covers the basics. But, fair warning, Last.fm can be addicting–the more you use it, the better able it is to recommend music to you. Couple this with the fact that you can take your music tastes with you anywhere you can access the internets and you might just grow a third ear for music (I kill me, I really do).