Off-Line Evangelism and Social Media Reach
Social media is undeniably fantastic way to spread a message about your cause or connect with your business’ client base. Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, G+, and whatever else can prove to be a great investment in time and a huge bang-for-your-buck (especially if you’re not spending any money to use any of these networks) when it comes to marketing and outreach.
Of course, to achieve the furthest reach using social media platforms you have to convince your followers to share your content. The most natural way to do this is to create interesting and quality content that your audience would agree is share-worthy.
At the same time you need to have an audience established that is in the habit of sharing on social media, not just consuming, for the ball to really start rolling.
But what if you’re just starting out? What if you don’t really have an audience yet?
Well, you still want to create quality content that would be consider share-worthy. It’s important to not overlook that crucial detail.
You could also pay to have your content promoted. Advertising is, after all, the major revenue generator for social media platforms.
Or – you could simply ask people to share your content, using their social media accounts.
I’m not just suggesting you ask readers to share your content at the end of each blog post or at some point in your next online video –both of which aren’t bad ideas- but that you bridge the gap between online and off-line; ask people you speak with in-person to share your content.
Off-Line Evangelism in the Real World
In college I saw a huge benefit from being my own off-line evangelist and asking people I knew as well as strangers to share my Facebook and Twitter posts in my final semester of college.
As a participant in Affect’s New York Intern Project I managed to secure myself a spot as a semi-finalist in the 2012 contest, and that was a direct result of promoting social media interaction in-person.
The premise of the New York Intern Project was simple enough, fill out the online application form, upload a picture or video to go along with your application, and then promote the heck out of it in hopes of being among the top-5 most voted applicants. That top-5 most voted applicants scored an interview for a fantastic summer internship.
And with no real following to speak of, prior to the contest, I was able to network myself into the top-5.
My strategy wasn’t complicated, every night after 5 pm I would walk the campus of my university, through the dorms, library, and computer labs asking everyone I found sitting in front of a computer to take 60 seconds, pull up my entry, vote for me, and share the link so that their friends could vote too.
At the same time, I was sending emails and private messages to friends and family, former co-workers teachers, and classmates, pretty much anyone I could think of. The greatest number of social shares however, came from the people I talked to in-person.
In the end I had more than tripled my Facebook and Twitter following, which wasn’t really my intent. My motive was much more short-sighted. I just wanted to accumulate votes for this one contest. So, even though I didn’t win the internship the positive take-away was having establish an audience I could share my next project with.
The lesson learned is that you can’t expect your online efforts to do all the work. If you don’t evangelize to the people you meet in-person your online communication will lack the personal connection that makes people really take interest in what you have to say. Without bridging the gap between your online and off-line efforts you will only hinder your momentum.
The truth is that the internet, digital communication, and social media didn’t replace the affect of in-person interactions, nor will they ever. The purpose of these tools is to amplify your communication efforts, but the use of digital media without some kind of off-line component is only part of the equation.
Now It’s Your Turn
If you think you have something worth sharing online, share it everywhere. Tell your friends, tell you family, tell strangers about the great things you are doing. You may be surprised with the support that you receive.
Oh, and before you do, take a second to share this post with everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+. Thanks!