Other People’s Networks

One of the books that’s really stuck with me the most is Jay Samit’s Disrupt You. I’ve already raved about the book in general but now I’m going to do what Jay would do, take an idea that works in one area and apply it in a different way.

 

viral network effect
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Disrupt You talks a lot about the idea of OPM, or “other people’s money.” When a businessperson or entrepreneur has an idea but doesn’t have the means to achieve that realization, one option is to find a partner that could also benefit in a complementary way and use their resources.

 

It might not seem like a revolutionary idea – after all investment and bank loans are other people’s money too – but what OPM really means is to not put your assets on the line as collateral. You need to find someone and present them with an opportunity so interesting that they front the money for you.

 

“Sure,” you say, “sounds so easy.” But you’d be surprised at home many initiatives are ruled impossible without even exploring this option. Opportunities abound.

 

In digital marketing, we can apply the same concept to reach and audiences in a concept we can refer to as OPN, or “other people’s networks.”

 

Countless friends and contacts have pitched their ideas and products which all sound amazing (as all good pitches do). No matter what the concept or domain, the first question I ask is: how do you get the word out? How do you go from the first customer to the 1000th customer?

 

Media is expensive and buying digital ad space as a recruitment strategy is not very effective. Luckily nearly everyone that you meet has their own network that you might be able to tap into. The problem is that most people won’t talk about your product or project, and even if they do, it’s rare to find engaged audiences amongst your friends’ networks.

 

Instead, you should find people who have complementary value in sharing your message. Why should they talk about your project? What can they gain by doing it? How can you tie them into your success so that it’s a success for both of you?

 

Tricky. People follow each other for a reason. You follow a beauty blogger for make up tips, not the latest music recommendations. You’re friends with your colleagues because you work together, not because you admire their cooking skills. It’s precisely this audience fragmentation that makes it so difficult to spread the word about a product or project organically through a network.

 

Reaching the right people can make all of the difference. You can read my tips about how to master influence marketing, which is a paid approach.

 

OPN is based on a non paid, or earned, approach.

 

One great way is to create content for other people. Many people that have large followings need to constantly create content in order to keep their audiences engaged. Creation demands can easily become a burden, eating up time and comprising the quality of content. It’s called content fatigue (no it’s not, I just made that up, but it should be).

 

You can lend a helping hand! Spend some time crafting the message and then personalize it to a potential partner. Figure out their graphic scheme and make something that matches it. Tie it into common themes and leitmotifs (#writer) to create a coherent experience on their channels.

 

It’s not just being a content slave on the influencer chain gang, it’s about controlling your message. When you ask your friends to get the word out – a common approach to launching anything – there is a fine line in terms of messaging. Too marketing-ish and people will be turned off because the message isn’t authentic. Yet if you leave it up to other people they might misrepresent your message. That could result in a bad customer experience. Expectations have to be sculpted, the prerequisite for the all-important first contact.

 

Social Capital

I can hear you say, “OK Tony, that all sounds great, but what value can I realistically provide someone?” Well hopefully your project or product has some sort of value, otherwise why would you be launching it?

 

Like I mentioned before, everyone has a network.

 

“But there are not enough people in my personal network, whenever I post something I get 5 likes. When I tweet I am lucky to get one retweet!”

 

The false assumption is that social media is only about posting content. Social networks are about creating connections with people.

 

To make connections live, you have to interact.

 

Like, comment, share. Pay it forward before anyone has paid you. Earn your social capital. Add influencers and get in there. Tell them how inspiring they are. Make yourself known but never by asking for anything. People immediately turn off when you ask them to like your page or share your link. Ignoring your request is as easy as flicking a thumb. You’ve got to make your moment count.

Accumulate and spend

 

Once you’ve built up your social capital, it’s time to call in the favors.

 

You can send messages to targeted people. Figure out whose interests line up with what you’re launching. Show them the value of your idea. Get them excited. The combination of being excited and knowing that you’re a nice person who has liked their stuff in the past will be enough to help you get the word out. That’s using OPN.
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