Social Media Magic … In Four Easy Steps
What does it take to move a group-to go viral with social media? It takes more than great content and frequent updates; it takes more than allowing audience participation; and it takes more than the most basic call to action ("forward to a friend" )—although all of these elements are important and necessary.
There is a whole category of internet marketers that make their money selling information about—wait for it—how to make money online. They call themselves internet "gurus;" and they periodically give a big drumroll and produce a product launch.
What is a product launch? It involves taking online information and organizing it around a particular event—a seminar, or class, or even a big party or giveaway. They do the launch in several very-recognizable steps:
1) They lead up to the event with lots of free content—content that is valuable enough to create interest and excitement among their followers.
2) They create urgency (through the use of deadlines).
3) They create scarcity (using a limited class size).
4) They get all the other internet marketers working in their space to email their lists with the free content and the product offer, and split their revenues with them.
And then they go for it.
While it's easy to make fun of anyone calling himself a "guru," some of them really are brilliant marketers. More to this point, these marketers are on to something—the fact that, to get a group to take action, you need to give them a reason to do so. They have taken audience development to a level that many publishers should seek to emulate: They have created a tribe for themselves comprising individuals who share their goals and interests; they learn what their tribe wants through surveys, tag clouds, blogs and forums; and they stay close to their tribe with lots of communication. Also, they partner with their competitors.
Then they deliver value in the form of free ideas, tips, and tactics—especially when leading up to a launch.
Publishers have such a lead in the field of social media, audience development, and internet marketing that it is they that should be showing the rest of the world what to do. After all, the role of the Internet is no different from the role that art—what we now call content—has always played: to teach and delight. Who does that better than a publisher? The value is in the content. Who has better content than the publisher? The goal is to develop an audience, to learn about the audience, and to meet the audience needs with the content. Who has a better feeling for an audience than the publishers that have been delivering content issue after issue, year after year?
While the great masses of people who make their livings online have to labor to find content to fill out their Web pages, appease the gods of SEO, and flesh out their social media offerings, this is a world where publishers have it made. Content is the air they breathe.
The trick is to harness its power.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.