Lijit Audience Analytics

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell A Friend: The Magical Power Of Ten

I've noticed quite a few of the majority of our audience, which consists of inspirational mommies and family-first bloggers, is involved in some sort of online or WFM (Work From Home) business.  As such, I figured I would share a few quick tips on how to grow your audience organically...  Without spamming.

I'd also love some support (likes, tweets, stumbles, and comments particularly),  with my Conversion-Fest 2011 Blogging Contest entry. Again, without spamming..  Tell a friend, better yet, tell 10 friends!

So what the heck does organic growth really mean?

It can mean a lot of things but, for our purposes, organic is synonymous with natural.  That means you're not pushing hard on people you don't really know; instead, you leverage your warm connections, your natural market, the people that you keep up with often.  Those are the folks that trust, like, and/or respect you most.

In SEO or Inbound Marketing terms, organic growth means you are attracting people and retaining some of the new visitors to your online content.  This typically means creating content that is remarkable and significant, from a human and search engine perspective alike.  My guest article on explains more on that, from a technical and people-serving perspective.

The idea is to kill the noise and the busy work that has little returns (the average traditional marketing campaign has less than a 1% conversion rate, BTW).  Focus on engaging people, rather than marketing.  Be remarkable, create some buzz, and do things that compel, motivate, and inspire others so that they'll WANT to act.

Scott Stratten says something similar in his book,  UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. (affiliate link), and I would recommend that read!

Now let's see how we can promote things more naturally... 

Social Media: Aw, Crap, The Screamers Are Here Too!
When social networking sites and blogs were first coming around, most businesses scoffed at them.  They felt there was no ROI and that "what always worked" would be just fine.  Fast forward a decade or so and, well, a lot of those businesses are no longer relevant, if they're even around. 
People stopped listening to the screamers.
The ideal in Social Media is to realize the Web 3.0 vision and create a truly social web, a place with less sleaze, pushy salespeople, and stronger relationships.  This is something consumers and business folks alike should get excited about!

So how can we share what we offer in a way that is NOT screaming?

Tell A Friend:  Engage For Exponential Reach
Here's the simple idea.  Tell a friend and have them tell friends.  This is what I call "going deep" (as opposed to "going wide" or amplification, which is what traditional marketers seem to focus on).  The thing is, your message is not being amplified if you're adding to the noise, no matter how much you are liked, how good your intentions are, and how wonderful what you are sharing may be.  ACK!

What is 10x10x10?
The answer is 1000.  That is the potential audience we have (for starters) if we ask 10 friends to do something simple and have them tell 10 friends..  And their 10 friends each follow through!

Let's put it to the test.  Promote my Conversion-Fest contest entry and have your friends click the Like button on the article.  We'll keep it simple and see what turn-around we have before August 29th at 3AM, when the social scoring ends.

At this writing, I need 400+ points (Conversion-Fest social scoring criteria and scoreboard) just to get into 3rd place but the next person up will still have a lead of 350-450 points over me.  WOW - I am impressed by their influence and/or persistence!  I wonder if they spammed or engaged? *wink*

For this to work for you, the criteria must be met: 
  • Make your call to action as simple and quick as possible.
  • Your friends must truly trust and like you to be influenced.
  • You must ask via a medium that minimizes distraction (e-mail, phone call, etc.). 
  • Make your message as brief and to-the-point as possible.
  • Listen more than you speak, in case there are concerns or curiosities to address. 
  • Excite your friends by explaining what will happen if they follow through and take out just a minute from their schedules.
  • Emphasize that you'll need your friends to do the same and be excited about it for it to work. 
  • Offer to do the same for your friends - reciprocation works! 
Once you launch your "tell a friend" campaign let me know what sort of success you find!

True Reach And Social Influence 
You don't have to be in business for yourself to care about this all.  We each influence people, for better or worse, but the strength of the relationships we build and the knowledge we instill depends on how well we nurture those bonds and drip information in a way that is permission-based, not intrusive or invasive.

This applies to job seekers, bloggers, artists, gamers..  Everyone.

Recently, I got some awesome support from leaders in the industries I take part in.  Janet Callaway, Christian Hollingsworth, Lauri Flaquer, Laurinda Shaver, Klaudia Jurewicz, and Marcus Sheridan are amongst these wonderful people.  They each have a HUGE audience and are great at keeping up with those in their inner circle but, even with their reach, influence, and popularity, their endorsement for my contest entry did not do much to have people complete a simple call to action: open the link, click like, and click tweet. 
Why did people not pay attention?
Quite simply, they did not tell a friend, they told their audience..  And everyone had other things going on.  Call it bad timing, lack of influence, poor marketing skills..  The end result is the same.

So this made me think about true reach and social influence more.  I feel your influence depends on how much you engage people individually, support others, stay active in key communities, and actually drive results through those efforts.  Your reach, thus, is the result of how open your inner circle is to share your efforts, your message, your stories, and your products with their friends, whether you ask them to or not.

When we have someone that offers their support without us asking (or at least begging), I'd say that is a true measure of social influence.. And that takes time, more time than people are willing to invest usually, especially large corporations (they'll continue to scream, spam, and make more noise). 

Unleashing The Ideavirus (a.k.a. Remarkable Content Gets Shared And Talked About)
There is a world of difference between good content and remarkable content, as Seth Godin would say.

Typically, if you're selling directly through your content, the message is lost because all that people focus on is the fact that you're self promoting.  People may not know or trust you enough to share it along.  This is why folks are more likely to share a lolcat video before something that can actually change their lives. 

This comic strip says it all.

Whether you engage, "sell", or market, there is a delicate balance to be achieved.  Cynics will always question motives which is why we all have to look at our core audience and do what we can to build them up into avid fans and supporters.

Spreading ideas can be tough, regardless of how much you believe in what you're doing.  Passion helps but it does not guarantee how it will be received.

In many ways, being a content curator and sharing other people's stuff helps us establish credibility, garner some attention, and sprinkle in our own content.  Again, it's a long process but I hope the ideas here will get you thinking.

I really recommend reading Seth Godin's books (affiliate link below).  I also think my article on is rather snazzy, relevant, useful, and mildly entertaining.  Just saying. 
Will you tell a friend right now?
Hmmm..  Let's go viral with this!  Wouldn't that be AWESOME?

I believe in you. 


Anonymous said...

So you're saying that Janet Callaway, Christian Hollingsworth, Lauri Flaquer, Laurinda Shaver, Klaudia Jurewicz, and Marcus Sheridan endorsed you and the results were underwhelming?

That's a strong statement and it may make for hard feelings - especially if it is the truth. And I'm guessing that you have no reason to be untruthful. Actually, the fail is something we should all be paying close attention to. Because if online influence is unpredictable and ambiguous like you are saying, klout (measured or organic) isn't worth much.

Wow! It's ballsy to make a case study as real and transparent as you do here. But let's focus here, you haven't identified what fails, why, and what the solution is. You have to stick with this and play it out until there's no more cards to deal.

Recently on my blog: Do not be afraid. And other social media DOHs.

Yomar said...

The results were great but did not compare to the effects of "going deep". I say this not to discredit these wonderful people. These folks are not just influencers to me, they have grown into friends. Some of these folks I am proud to say are part of my inner circle and trust me as much as I trust them.

There should be no hard feelings and I hope I have made it abundantly clear that I am grateful for their efforts. They pulled through in spite of all the things going on. There are, however, many lessons here and I have been aware of these truths for quite some time...

* Having a massive audience often results in a numbers game, especially if you rely on broadcasting.
* Having people click-through on links does not always result in conversions or true engagement.
* The trust and credibility of influential promoters does not always translate when they support others.
* More times than not, people still prefer to be engaged individually as opposed to in a group.

These shortcomings are not a reflection of this amazing bunch. I mainly dropped their names to let them know they have been recognized as being part of the core of people that really went out of their way to help me.

The list does not end there. Leo from BufferApp helped out by using Buffer to drip information to his audience. My pal Dino Dogan even pitched in.

There will always be different results for different people so it all depends on your personal style and core values. What I've personally seen first-hand is that I have better results by working through my "key players" than doing mass communication, though I do broadcast a bit myself.

Online influence is unpredictable and ambiguous at times, yes.. That is why I make a pretty decent living doing Inbound Marketing. It allows me to measure things that are usually intangible. It's not an exact science but it does drive results. Sometimes, it can very well be trial by fire.

I don't usually make bold statements like this, Stan.. and I'm not calling anyone out, believe me. I just found that, for myself, this is what works. It's what got me from fifth place to third place with the Unbounce #ConversionFest contest in spite of time constraints and priority conflicts. In the last two days, I pulled together 300+ votes - more than I did in the course of a week!

I will say this: once I stressed to my friends that I did not wish for them to grind so hard and take so much time out of their schedule.. Once we focused on more efficient activities.. everything came together.

Janet, Klaudia, Lauri, and Christian were particularly awesome about asking me what they could do specifically to help. They showed genuine interest daily without me having to come to them.. It was great because, really, I don't like to hound people as I do not like being hounded myself. ;o)

So, to be clear, the initial efforts were not a failure. There was just a lot more time and volume of work put out than there were results. When we shared the content directly with people and provided a simple call to action, the results were significantly greater.

Hope that clears the whole thing up. I'm not trying to bust any chops here. ;o) said...

Well answered, Yomar.

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