Everyone wants to have more followers. When you get one on social media, you think “yay! New follower! I must be doing something right!” And typically, you’ll look briefly at the person’s profile. If you go the extra mile, maybe you’ll Google them. Maybe you’ll even try to reach out to them personally with a message. But that’s where it ends. (HINT: Never just have an auto-responder thanking them for being a fan. *PUKE*.)
Our thinking about fans and followers needs to change. In 2014, people can have thousands or millions of followers. At times, those numbers might seem impressive. But are they?
The truth is that it’s not enough to just get a new fan or follower. You have to ask yourself – “Who is this person? Why are they following me? What is it that attracted them to me?” The adage “people don’t remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel” is as important today as it ever was.
Recently, I signed up for an online writing course because it promised great results toward building a following. However, I quickly got the feeling that no one running the course was interested in me. I was just a guy giving them money. If I got great results, they’d no doubt use me as an example of what could be accomplished when they marketed the course in the future. But if the author of the course asked “Who is Daniel? What did he accomplish so far on his own, and why did he sign up for this course? What is he hoping to get out of it?” my experience would have been completely different.
There’s a human element that gets easily lost in the online world. To help remedy that, we need to change how we interact with people in real life and online. For online interactions, Ted Rubin describes this necessary action as “Looking People In The Eye Digitally” – searching out their online persona, reading their posts, finding out who they are and what value we might be able to bring to them. This applies whether they’ve given us money, are thinking about giving us money, or if they’ve decided to follow us. In the real world, this is both easier and harder. It involves asking people questions and observing their interactions. It involves getting to the core of who they are, what they’ve done, and where they want to go.
I ended up cancelling the online writing course that I initially signed up for and began looking for alternatives. There are no shortage of people who want you to sign up for their courses, let me tell you. I investigated “Life On Fire”, “The B-School”, and a few others, all of which promise to change your life – for a variety of prices. I ended up coming across one that sounded promising, but I wasn’t sure it would be a fit. So I emailed the author of the course. It took a few days for him to respond, but let me tell you – HE GOT IT. He went on my site. He read my articles. He commented on them. He emailed me back after reading some of my recent posts, now fully understanding where I was coming from.
This is the kind of effort that gets noticed and appreciated. In his book “The Thank You Economy”, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how these sorts of interactions can either lead to more future sales, or less. I’ve already told others about the new writing course I signed up for, and will continue to do so, based on the author’s engagement. Why? All because I appreciate the effort the author put in to looking me in the eye (digitally), and how it made me feel.
Ask yourself these questions when meeting a new person, whether online or digitally:
- What is this person about?
- How can I provide value to them?
- How can I best show that I care about them?
If you don’t care what the person is about, then don’t bother continuing. In 2014, we call that “Being Authentic”. You can’t pretend to care just until you get paid, and you can’t pretend to be interested in that person only once they reach a certain level.
In the end, we all want to have people in our circle that we can connect with, people who agree with us and we can agree with them, and most importantly, who inspire us and validate our vision of what we’re trying to accomplish. “Don’t stop doing what you’re doing!” they tell us. Seth Godin calls people like that “members of our Tribe”. That’s how we know we’re on the right track. If you find someone who’s going to be a member of your Tribe – make sure you acknowledge them, ensure they’re going in the same direction as you – and then lead them.
I’m starting a movement. It’s called the “We care about other people” movement. It involves being interested in people beyond just liking their status update, knowing what they did over the weekend, or even accepting their money. Join me.