We’ve gone over several methods to help you grow your audience, from basic visibility tips and optimization, to working with the coopetition and doing outreach. One item that is often neglected though is a very simple tactic: early adoption of new platforms.
Why adopt early?
Being an early player on a new network gives you a visibility advantage relative to mature networks, simply on a numbers basis. Being 1 of 100,000 is very different than being 1 of 100,000,000. If the smaller network you identify and put actual effort into should manage to go from 100,000 to 1,000,000 or 10,000,000 you will almost certainly see your personal audience increase accordingly, and can translate back to your other network profiles as friends and followers that discover you on the new platform will be more willing to also follow you on the existing, mature platforms.
How about an example?
As an example of this, look at the story of Vine. Vine is ideal for a couple of reasons:
- It offered an explosion of growth where new talent was discovered due to the novel concept of short format videos that attracted new social media users.
- Post-acquisition it was completely neglected and was effectively shelved after languishing, no matter how Twitter management chooses to spin it, which was just a colossal mistake. Steve Bowbrick knows what I’m talking about.
- The smart influencers that built large audiences on Vine translated that success over onto more mature platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and into other new networks like Snapchat. Someone without a meaningful following pre-Vine that managed to build a solid audience which was migrated over time onto YouTube and Facebook is absolutely cleaning up now with Facebook Live videos as recommended by Rebekah Radice, and if such an influencer doubled down on time investment to push original content on Snapchat which syndicates back into Youtube is probably seeing a continuing growth trend; the time investment probably isn’t even that different than before since the efforts put into Vine could be dropped for a different network.
How early is too early?
I’m going to skip the discussion on how to find new networks, because it is almost a mistake to actively try to find them — listen to your audience on where they spend their time and keep an ear open in your niche communities, that’s sufficient.
Instead we should discuss when early is too early; it is a classic question, whether it pertains to Jason M. Lemkin’s advice on when to hire key executives, whether to invest in an industry, or when to focus time and investment in a new social network. As Michael Dempsey would argue: all things being equal it is better to be too early than too late. To help find that magical balance, let’s create a rough heuristic; the idea behind this heuristic is to determine when you should probably jump into a network head first and consider it a part of your everyday influence routine. This is just my heuristic which I find helpful in determining whether I’m going to be wasting my time or if I might be finding that shining needle in the proverbially noisy haystack.
- IF the new network has at least 10 active accounts that you’re connected to already on other accounts AND you believe those accounts are actually worth following, go to step 2.
- IF the new network is doing something novel (i.e. not just a pure copycat of an existing network), go to step 3.
- IF the new network would result in relevant followers for you to apply influence on, due to it being accepting both of your niche as well as having an audience that would seek out your niche, setup an account.
- IF new account does not translate into growth of real, non-bot accounts (on the new network) within two weeks, hold on those activities and try again two months later. Keep repeating for six months.
What the above process does is to help eliminate a lot of wasted time. There are millions of Pligg sites that are technically social networks. However, it is both unlikely that you’re going to have 10 common friends that are using those accounts and equally unlikely that there will be anything novel about those networks; most exist for spam purposes. Even if you thought that one of those pligg sites had 10 accounts worth following that you were connected to on Twitter and felt it was novel, would it be relevant to your niche? If you’re a pet product influencer and 90% of the posts are about getting car insurance quotes and payday loans, the relevance isn’t there. If by chance, you still felt it was close enough (dude, it isn’t) the probability of having an account there translating into meaningful growth from non-bot accounts is low.
There are so many different networks out there that you need some sort of heuristic to keep you sane and engaging in the right places; focus.
Let’s say you do manage to stumble onto something, like a future VR only network; for descriptive purposes, let’s say it is like foursquare for VR. That is definitely novel, but until the network can manage to capture 10 of your common friends from other networks, it still won’t be worth digging into. Why? Why wait? Most networks fail. This small filter helps you from wasting that time investment, and you most likely will be out nothing because since you’re an influencer that focuses on quality over quantity, this means you are going would be posting on VR pet products at dog parks or whatever that intersection of niche and formatting is.
If you’re in on a network at 1,000 users it is mostly indistinguishable from being on a network at 10,000 (believe me, I’ve done it too many times); additionally, let’s say the heuristic kept you from joining until the network until it was 100,000 strong — is that such a bad thing? Chances are you’ll still be one of the first handful of influencers within your niche using it as we suggest from previous articles. You’re golden. Now you can rock this channel.
Tie your accounts
Once you manage to build an audience in that VR for foursquare type idea, you need to be smart and bring it over to where you were previously applying the majority of your influence (probably Instagram and Pinterest?). From shout outs, to reminders to follow you elsewhere, to linking all your social channels on all your profile pages, you need to cross promote. This is what it is all about: growing your global audience as a means to expand individual network audiences. If you’re pushing for that growth, how about you put your audience to good use with us at Intellifluence.
Joe, CEO and Co-Founder of Intellifluence, has close to 20 years of experience in SEO, leading several successful marketing companies and providing expert consultation. He is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing, which is available as an eBook or in print.