Yes, I said “Less Followers”. It’s not a typo. I’m not crazy and it’s not a clever headline for a post that will turn into the opposite in the third paragraph.
Let me first do a formal introduction, this is the second installment of the “Striking Six” Blog Series that involves 6 online mavericks sharing knowledge on how to craft an inspirational and powerful online presence. Each one of these awesome and mystery bloggers are revealed on each post when it’s published so you have to keep up with the series. Exciting isn’t it?
The first installment of the series was revealed a couple of days ago by Mars Dorian with his edgy style and message to change the world. Here is the link to The Guerrilla’s Guide To Attracting Your “Right” Audience.
Back to our topic in hand… and why “Less Followers” is the new “More Followers”. I’m inviting you today to disregard all those posts you’ve read about how to build huge communities, get more followers and likes, including mine. This has nothing to do with administration of all those Twitter followers and how hard it can be if you have too many because it’s clear that with the appropriate tools we can easily manage and filter information however we need.
Influence doesn’t spread by getting huge numbers. Audiences are built by truly connecting with individuals, one at a time, getting your message across and making people fall in love with it.
Community growth is usually part of a social media strategy for brands. Metrics and tools are setup in order to measure, benchmark and do projections. This should NOT be your case. As an entrepreneur/blogger you should put your focus elsewhere and with patience, communicate with individuals on a regular basis.
If you are able to craft remarkable content and products, and promote them, your audience and online community will grow organically. There is nothing healthier than that. But I hear you say “there is nothing new about that”, let me explain…
We are used to getting mixed messages, we’ve talked about this at SocialMouths. The people that tells you to stop worrying about numbers lists every single counter on their blogs and on the other side of the fence, people telling you to get more followers. We create pressure to be seen as successful, we worry about social proof. Those mixed messages only deliver more confusion.
So what happens now? The difference is that we are starting to embrace those small audiences. Now building tiny communities is cool, it’s appreciated. Today “Less Followers” is the new “More Followers.”
Let’s be honest, following people on Twitter is a vicious circle that ends at “you follow me, I follow you back”, we’re happy to have a mutual connection but there is never an exchange of words between the two.
What do you think would happen if you stop taking the initiative of following people? do you think people would follow you because what you put out there is plain awesome and they’re interested, or do you think your growth will suddenly dry?
Let me share a story with you. Earlier in my life I was lucky to get some extensive sales training that, at the moment I thought it sucked and I did it just to earn more money. Most of it is just a blur now but among the things I still retain is this: If you want to close a solid sale, try to unsell it at the end, give your client the opportunity to change his/her mind before processing the order.
At the time it sounded like I was gonna make less money and probably get fired. See, most people buy on an impulse and by doing this I was taking that out of the equation. It’s like trying to only make meaningful sales. Crazy, right?
Later in life I had the opportunity to have a business with a great product and service that allowed me to be confident enough to run a call center without written scripts and shady selling techniques and made a killing for 7 years. It happened organically. I didn’t have to go knock on doors or try to push something that people didn’t want.
The point is that if you focus on connecting with the right audience, as Mars says, your tribe will be solid and open to receive more of that magic you deliver week after week.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should hide or make it hard for people to find you. You should connect with people and you should promote your content and services. Regularly.
Do you think you will still be able to be build an audience by just delivering who you are? Without having community growth be a task? It sounds to me like a good exercise to see if you are actually dropping pure awesomeness on a regular basis, because that spreads out on its own.
I’m a big observer of the internet and, let me tell you what I see today. Besides the bloggosphere growing like there’s no tomorrow, there is a new breed of bloggers and digital entrepreneurs that not only spread awesome shit but are also willing to take creativity to new levels, are ready to break all the rules and are not afraid to build one relationship at a time.
I’m not afraid of mentioning people and recognizing when they kick ass. Here are a few people you should pay attention to if you wanna know what I mean, you probably already know them but just in case: Srinivas Rao from The Skool Of Life, Jonathan Wondrusch from By Bloggers, Fabian Kruse from The Friendly Anarchist, Ashley Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project and Thom Chambers from In Tree Houses among others. These people don’t sit down in front of their computers to randomly follow people, they are building amazing audiences one relationship at a time and focusing on crafting epic shit to put in front of those communities. It seems to me like they even keep those audiences small on purpose.
Building an audience doesn’t happen overnight, even if you go out there and take the initiative to follow people massively. No matter what social media “gurus” tell you. Sure, you get social proof when you display massive numbers on your blog or social profiles, I’m not gonna deny that but I think it has been proven that there is a lot more to it. People out there are able to create awesome without it.
Do yourself a favor and forget ASAP. Let your tribe grow organically.
Wanna play the real game? Change your social media strategy, focus on creating epic stuff and let people follow you because they can’t get enough of YOU. The following To Do List will help you:
So how do you connect with like-minded individuals and start meaningful relationships that will eventually turn into raving fans? Good question. Let me see if I’m able to illustrate this and answer that with another question. Would you walk down the street passing out business cards? sure, why not (stupid question). Now, would you expect a meaningful relationship to be born out of that approach?
What happens if you introduce yourself as you would in real life? or if you complement somebody for his/her work? what if you turn your Facebook Page into a Q&A forum to help your audience?
The formula to play a bigger game is to:
Thanks for reading, now it’s your turn. I know this is a topic with many different opinions, what’s yours? express your thoughts freely in the comments sections, disagreements are always welcome!
Do you ever feel like you are addicted to email or twitter or texting? Do you find it impossible to ignore your email if you see that there are messages in your inbox? Have you ever gone to Google to look up some information and 30 minutes later you realize that you’ve been reading and linking, and searching around for a long time, and you are now searching for something totally different than before? These are all examples of your dopamine system at work.
Enter dopamine – Neuro scientists have been studying what they call the dopamine system for a while. Dopamine was “discovered” in 1958 by Arvid Carlsson and Nils-Ake Hillarp at the National Heart Institute of Sweden. Dopamine is created in various parts of the brain and is critical in all sorts of brain functions, including thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, and motivation, seeking and reward.
The myth — You may have heard that dopamine controls the “pleasure” systems of the brain: that dopamine makes you feel enjoyment, pleasure, and therefore motivates you to seek out certain behaviors, such as food, sex, and drugs.
It’s all about seeking — The latest research, though is changing this view. Instead of dopamine causing us to experience pleasure, the latest research shows that dopamine causes seeking behavior. Dopamine causes us to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases our general level of arousal and our goal-directed behavior. (From an evolutionary stand-point this is critical. The dopamine seeking system keeps us motivated to move through our world, learn, and survive). It’s not just about physical needs such as food, or sex, but also about abstract concepts. Dopamine makes us curious about ideas and fuels our searching for information. The latest research shows that it is the opoid system (separate from dopamine) that makes us feel pleasure.
Wanting vs. liking – According to Kent Berridge, these two systems, the “wanting” (dopamine) and the “liking” (opoid) are complementary. The wanting system propels us to action and the liking system makes us feel satisfied and therefore pause our seeking. If our seeking isn’t turned off at least for a little while, then we start to run in an endless loop. The latest research shows that the dopamine system is stronger than the opoid system. We seek more than we are satisfied (back to evolution… seeking is more likely to keep us alive than sitting around in a satisfied stupor).
A dopamine induced loop – With the internet, twitter, and texting we now have almost instant gratification of our desire to seek. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Want to look up some information? Just type it into google. What to see what your friends are up to? Go to twitter or facebook. We get into a dopamine induced loop… dopamine starts us seeking, then we get rewarded for the seeking which makes us seek more. It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, stop checking our cell phones to see if we have a message or a new text.
Anticipation is better than getting — Brain scan research shows that our brains show more stimulation and activity when we ANTICIPATE a reward than when we get one. Research on rats shows that if you destroy dopamine neurons, rats can walk, chew, and swallow, but will starve to death even when food is right next to them. They have lost the desire to go get the food.
More, more, more – Although wanting and liking are related, research also shows that the dopamine system doesn’t have satiety built in. It is possible for the dopamine system to keep saying “more more more”, seeking even when we have found the information. During that google exploration we know that we have the answer to the question we originally asked, and yet we find ourselves looking for more information and more and more.
Unpredictable is the key — Dopamine is also stimulated by unpredictability. When something happens that is not exactly predictable, that stimulates the dopamine system. Think about these electronic gadgets and devices. Our emails and twitters and texts show up, but we don’t know exactly when they will or who they will be from. It’s unpredictable. This is exactly what stimulates the dopamine system. It’s the same system at work for gambling and slot machines. (For those of you reading this who are “old school” psychologists, you may remember “variable reinforcement schedules”. Dopamine is involved in variable reinforcement schedules. This is why these are so powerful).
When you hear the “ding” that you have a text – The dopamine system is especially sensitive to “cues” that a reward is coming. If there is a small, specific cue that signifies that something is going to happen, that sets off our dopamine system. So when there is a sound when a text message or email arrives, or a visual cue, that enhances the addictive effect (for the psychologists out there: remember Pavlov).
140 characters is even more addictive – And the dopamine system is most powerfully stimulated when the information coming in is small so that it doesn’t full satisfy. A short text or twitter (can only be 140 characters!) is ideally suited to send our dopamine system raging.
Not without costs — This constant stimulation of the dopamine system can be exhausting. We are getting caught in an endless dopamine loop.
Write a comment and share whether you get caught in these dopamine loops and whether you think we should use what we know about these systems to create devices and websites that stimulate them.
And for those of you who like research:
Kent C. Berridge and Terry E. Robinson, What is the role of dopamine in reward: hedonic impact, reward
learning, or incentive salience?: Brain Research Reviews 28 1998. 309–369.
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