By Colin Gray.
Fans. That’s what it’s all about really.
Fans are why we write blog posts. They’re why we rave about our subject – week in, week out – giving out oodles of value for the sum total of zero pennies. Whether you blog, vlog or alog (I just made that up…), it’s all about creating fans of your brand. We rely on the promise that they’ll pay you back at some point down the line.
Of course, that doesn’t have to be money. It might be community, support, authority or any number of other aims. But, the aim is to nurture a squad of fans who loyally consume your content, and consistently spread it far and wide around the ‘net.
I genuinely believe that podcasting (alog wasn’t working for me…) is the most effective way to create true fans of your brand. It’s not the only way, but it’s the most powerful, for me. Let me tell you why…
The Small Business Advantage
When you decide to nurture a squad, a tribe, a community… a crowd of FANS… the biggest hurdle is visibility. How do you get yourself found in the first place?
Unless you’re either darn lucky or darn smart (hopefully both), it’s likely you’re in an established sector with a whole host of existing brands. That means you’ve got to stand out, and this is the trickiest part, particularly online.
Readers are skimming through search results, trying to find a solution to their problems. If they stumble across your content, you need to differentiate yourself, and quick. Darren’s been talking about this for a long time…
The advantage we have as solo-preneurs and small businesses is that we’ve not lost our humanity yet. That’s one of the biggest struggles for any growing company; ”How do we keep hold of the personality that people loved in the beginning?” It’s the problem that has management consultants banging on about company culture from every rooftop they climb.
But, your culture is defined by your personality. When a company’s small, it’s personality is almost indistinguishable from the CEO’s. The leader then takes on staff who match that perfectly (if she’s smart) and exude the same values.
That’s the first thing we need to do: showcase that personality. Show the world our humanity, the real people and stories behind the brand. People become fans of an ideal, of a culture, of values and ethos. That comes from personality, and that’s what you have to put out there.
Guide from Static Words to Dynamic Messages
So, how do we put it out? That’s the simple part: deliver your personality through media.
Now, I need to be careful here. This is ProBlogger after all… Let me say, before I’m shown the door, that writing does, and always will, have a top tier place in everyone’s fan building strategy. Text has the reach, the simplicity and the flexibility to brings hordes of people to your shopfront.
But writing can be a tricky way to really develop that relationship.
Of course, good writers can make us laugh, cry or smash a prized Star Wars mug (a story for another blog post). They’re adept at broadcasting their personality in spades. But, that kind of writing is hard.
Instead, what we can all do is create valuable content. Content which is so useful that it compels your reader to seek out more. That more, for me, should be media.
Media, whether audio or video, showcases YOU. This is nothing new, so I wont dwell, but when people see your face, hear your voice, they identify with you in a much more potent way than through the written word. Again, thinking here of the average writer.
Most of us are better speakers than writers. We speak a whole lot more than we write, after all, and our passion comes through much more clearly. By presenting, we often showcase ourselves in the best light.
The Intimacy of Voice
Presenting works well in both video and audio, but podcasting has it’s first advantage here. That comes in form of barriers: they’re lower, both technically and mentally. We’ve covered the technicals of how to start a podcast many, many times, so it’s the mind-set I want to cover here.
I’ve worked with a lot of media creators, and it always surprises me how presenters freeze up on film. It’s totally superficial – they worry about their hair, their clothes, their hands (who has ever thought about their hands when not on film or on stage!?). In many people it completely strips them of their personality: they’re wooden, formal, boring…
Bring out a mic and start a conversation, though, and people come alive. There’s something really personal, informal and intimate about breathing into a mic, and allowing the voice alone to convey your message.
Now, video does have advantages too in that it offers visual cues, body language and stimulation for both eye and ear. I think we’re on a tie right now in terms of fan building potential.
But, that’s before you start thinking attention.
The Attention Multiplier
Attention is why podcasting is the most engaging medium. This is why it’s the most effective way to nurture a fan base.
Video and audio both showcase your personality, but Podcasting brings it home by keeping listeners on the line for hours – literally hours – every week.
We’ve all heard the stats: if you manage to get more than 4 or 5 minutes of view-time on a YouTube video, then you’re a presenting superstar. It’s easy to understand why, too. With every view, you’re asking for one of the most valuable assets we have as human beings: time. Video requires full attention. You have to make time for it. That’s why we move on quickly, giving presenters only a few minutes to convey their message.
But, podcasting is different. The listener doesn’t have to make time to listen. It’s a ‘wasted time’ or a ‘rote task’ activity. People will listen in the car, mowing the lawn, walking the dog, lifting weights, cooking dinner. And, because of that, they’ll listen for 30 minutes, an hour, even more.
Two of the biggest shows in the world right now – Hardcore History and the Tim Ferriss show – regularly run for 2 to 3 hours per episode. Dan Carlin commands a listenership in the 6 figures despite the length and his solo format. That approach is difficult to pull off in the best of circumstances, and then add the fact that he’s teaching you…dread… history! But, it works because he’s being himself, offering huge value, and delivering it in a form that can sustain that attention.
Engagement X Attention
Podcasting holds the power it does because of a simple equation: engagement multiplied by attention.
Other mediums create engagement. Other mediums command attention. But, podcasting combines them to huge effect, building trust and rapport at an unheard of rate.
You mission is to turn readers into viewers, and viewers into listeners. Do this by offering great content in exchange for more and more of their time. When you have their time, their attention, and truly engage them throughout, that’s what creates fanatical fans.
So, get talking! I’ll be listening.