Guest post by Lior Levin. Reference this post for the what and why have a platform.
In business and in life, what you say only means something to those who hear it. You can shout all you want, but if no one is listening, then what you say doesn’t matter much. A platform is the audience you create for yourself — the “who” that you develop around you. They not only hear what you have to say, but also they care deeply about it.
Just like many other processes, the building of a platform involves steps. Following the steps ensures that you don’t skip anything, and prepares you for bigger and more important steps that require the ones that come before.
Step 1: Have Something to Say
Too often, people jump online, start blogging or try to develop a following before they’ve stopped to consider why they are there and what they have to say. People shy away from the difficult yet crucial questions:
Until you can answer both questions with confidence and clarity, you shouldn’t aggressively attempt to build your platform. In all likelihood, you wouldn’t go to a conference without knowing the topics, would you? Why, then, should you invite people to “follow you on Twitter” without knowing the reason? Give people a reason to be part of your crowd.
Step 2: Know Who Should Listen to You
The second biggest thing people forget to do before growing a following is figuring out their ideal audience. It used to be that everyone needed to have a “target” audience in mind, but that’s no longer good enough. You need to really know your audience — not just target a specific group of people based on a couple of characteristics. The whole benefit of sitting down and determining an audience profile is to find out who is ideal for you.
Here are great questions to get you started:
Answer those questions, and you will hold the key to reaching your audience with little effort and incredible results.
Step 3: Figure Out Where to Find Them
Where is your ideal audience? Are they hanging out on Twitter, joining a Twitter chat? Are they on LinkedIn, participating in group discussions? Are they on Facebook, posting comments on images and videos?
Finding out where your platform lives, breathes and desires to be is the next big step in developing it. Think of it like pulling out a map before going on a road trip. Sure, you could do without the map, and maybe you would eventually get to where you are going. However, with a map in hand, you can take the shortest route, or perhaps the most scenic, or the one with the most rest stops along the way. Whatever route you take to reach your ideal audience to grow them into a following, you need to know where to find them.
Once you figure that out, go find them! Consider everything: blogs, social media profiles, forums and even Meetup and Yahoo groups. You don’t need to be in all places at all times. What’s most important is what you do when you get there. (See Step 4.)
Step 4: Start Communicating
If only there were a secret recipe for the best way to interact with your platform. Wouldn’t it be great if you could rely on daily blogging, ten to twenty tweets per day, a Youtube video and three Facebook status updates every morning knowing that that would make your audience go crazy for you?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. But there is a golden rule: whatever communication works for your audience, you need to maintain it. Once you have established a way of engaging your audience — speaking, responding, reaching out, involving, polling, etc. — keep at it! Remember that for whatever reason, online activity has a short memory life span. People don’t remember things for very long, and there are a lot of messages going out every day. To remain top of mind, you need to be around a lot. Commit to having an active relationship with the platform that you build.
When broken down into steps, building a platform sounds simple, and it really is. Simple doesn’t mean easy, though. It takes work to follow the steps and ensure that the platform you build is relevant, worthwhile and highly effective for you. It’s worth it.
Have you built a platform? How did you go about it? Or why haven’t you built one? Should everyone have a platform? Why or why not?
About Lior Levin. This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for the University of Tel Aviv in the political communication masters programs. Lior also consults for a company that provides business and individuals with a to-do list tool.