The 5 C’s of Social Media Dominance – Part 1

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time helping leaders navigate the waters of social media.

I don’t consider myself an expert, especially since I haven’t put in the 10,000 hours of expertise yet that folks like Malcolm Gladwell talk about. I still end sentences with prepositions for instance.

But I have been swimming for a few years, and I’ve learned a few things. Lots of them by failing, some of them by floating into the right wave at the right time, a few of them on purpose.

So this week, as I work on creating the most intensive guide to social media I’ve ever built for the upcoming Quitter Conference, I thought I would share the 50,000 foot view.

There are only 5 words you have to understand in order to dominate social media. Here’s the first one, with the next four coming in the days to follow:

1. Content

If you had a nickel for every time someone told you that “content is king” you could have been the one who purchased Instagram.

This word has been bandied about so often on the Internet that it’s become a cliché, which is a shame, because content still runs social media like Jay-Z runs New York.

So what is content? Let’s demystify it.

Imagine you owned a store. You were having a grand opening. You spent hours and hours promoting your big day. You spent thousands of dollars inviting people to the ribbon cutting, doing everything you could to drive traffic to your location.

The day arrived, the parking lot was slammed full of people and it was a wild success …and then you opened the doors. And all the shelves were empty. In the excitement of promoting your store, you forgot to stock it. You’ve got an immaculate layout. The store isn’t just a store, it’s an “experience.” The design is unbelievable … but it doesn’t matter. People were expecting products. And as soon as they took a look behind the curtain, so to speak, and realized the store was empty, they left and never came back.

Content = Products.

That’s not just true for businesses, but that’s true for bloggers too. Even if you never want to sell a single thing via social media, if you want to build a community, you have to have a foundation to build it on. And that foundation is the content.

If you start with the promotion, the building will be well known and well ignored.

If you start with the design, the building will be beautiful and empty.

If you start with the community, the building will be temporarily crowded but eventually abandoned.

Content is king.

Content is currency.

Content is critical.

In the old school, “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” model of journalism, content is the “What?”

What blogs will you write?

What videos will you share?

What will you create?

Or, in the Facebook/YouTube model, what content will you enable other people to create on your platform? CNN didn’t start the “iReport” feature, which allows people at home to submit their own news, because they like lowercase letters. They started it because it turns the entire country into content machines. And content matters most. The times I’ve forgotten this have been the times I’ve made my biggest mistakes with social media.

Next, we’ll talk about the second word, “Context.” But the other words won’t matter a whole lot if we don’t get this one right first.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

Read more from Jon here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

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VRcurator — 11/04/12 6:07 am

Great! Keep in touch and let us know how the process is going.

Steve Craig — 11/03/12 6:19 pm

We're working through the church unique process right now....gathering information about our place, people, and passion....it's been challenging and rewarding. Love this website.

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Play to the Size of Your Heart, Not the Size of the Crowd

A band recently taught me an incredibly simple truth about being awesome.

Their name is Seryn and they’re from Denton, TX. They kind of remind me of Mumford & Sons with more instruments and less British accents. Each member plays approximately 37 instruments and they constantly switch them out in the middle of the songs.

I first saw them play at the Catalyst Conference in front of 13,000 people. I was blown away by the energy they filled that arena with that day. They were unbridled with their passion, as if they couldn’t believe they got to play music in front of people.

I wrote about them on Facebook. A few days later, someone in the town next to ours emailed me. He said, “I saw you liked that band Seryn. They’re playing a house show in my living room. Do you and your wife want to come see them?” We did. So we did.

And it was an awkward experience at first. We just walked up to a small ranch house in the suburbs and knocked on the front door. Everyone there knew each other, except for us. We stood in the kitchen, having one of those really intense conversations you launch into with someone when you’re trying to pretend you’re not uncomfortable.

“What do you think these cabinets are made of? Pressed wood? Is that right? I would have thought they were another kind of wood. Interesting.”

An hour later, Seryn drove in from New York and set up all the aforementioned instruments in Larry’s living room. They tuned everything, had a sip of water, and then launched into their set.

I expected they’d play at a 3 or a 4, whatever the appropriate level of music is for a corner of taupe carpet next to a loveseat. I was wrong.

They didn’t play to the size of the crowd, they played to the size of their heart.

And it’s apparently huge.

The same joy I saw them dominate a stage of 13,000 people with weeks before was on display that night in a room full of 60 friends and two weird outsiders who seemed inappropriately interested in the cabinets. It was like Seryn couldn’t help to play that way. That was what was inside their heart.

Awesome doesn’t let the crowd determine the size of the performance. Awesome gets up for 2 people or 200. Awesome writes great books even if no one is going to read them. Awesome sweeps store floors when no one is looking.

Awesome can’t help itself.

Awesome has a huge heart. And that’s what it always plays too.

The size of the crowd doesn’t matter.

The applause of the audience doesn’t matter.

The money you make singing doesn’t matter.

And I hope you get all those things. I hope you have huge audiences and screaming fans and more money than Scrooge McDuck in his money bin. But, long before any of that, I hope you’ll learn the simple lesson Seryn taught me:

Play to the size of your heart, not the size of your crowd.

More from Jon Acuff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

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Blessing Mpofu — 11/14/12 1:03 am

waiting for a throng of people to deliver / ship is self defeating. by playing to the size of our heart and not the crowd you have control over how you deliver. you are not subject to the external you may not have control over. thanks jon for the reminder. appreciate it.

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The 5 C’s of Social Media Dominance – Part 2

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Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

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The 5 C’s of Social Media Dominance – Part 3

In previous posts from this series, we talked about the first two C’s for Social Media Dominance, Content and Context. Today let’s talk about:

3. Clarity

A few months ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine. He’s a social media consultant. He gets paid thousands and thousands of dollars to help companies with their social media strategies. During the middle of the meal, he leaned forward and confessed something quietly, “I know I’m supposed to be using Google +, but I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.”

And as silly as that might sound, I feel the same way.

I’m pretty sure it’s awesome. I mean it’s Google, after all! Who doesn’t love Google? But whenever I check in or log in or whatever verb you use when interacting with +, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do.

I’m positive there must be some stream of conversation going on somewhere within the platform. There must be some reason it’s awesome, but I can’t find it. So, after a few minutes of poking around I return to the platforms I do know how to use, Twitter and Facebook.

And it turns out, so do a lot of other people. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.”

Will Google + bounce back? Maybe. That team is brilliant, but they won’t until they fix one thing: clarity.

Clarity is the way you carve out some space in the cluttered social media world. It’s how you tell readers and followers and fans and customers, “This is what I’m all about.” It’s your idea stripped down to its bare essentials, so that the most distracted generation in the history of mankind can instantly understand where you fit in the social media landscape.

This one takes time. No blog ends up a year later being exactly the way you planned it. No social media campaign does exactly what you expected it would. The only way you develop your voice is by using your voice. And often you have to use that voice for 6 months to a year until you’ve got clarity.

My blog is an example of that. I know exactly what Stuff Christians Like is. I have a sense of clarity about that. I have very clear rules for guest posts because I know the voice of the site. I’ve been writing it for 4 years. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are satire. Wednesday is Serious Wednesday. Friday is a guest post.

This blog? JonAcuff.com? I’m not there yet. Sometimes I write about parenting. Sometimes I write about writing. Sometimes I write about chasing your dream. Sometimes I write about social media. Can all those topics play together? Sure, but I haven’t figured out how yet. I don’t have great clarity.

To use the store metaphor, clarity is why Apple doesn’t sell 100 different laptops and desktops. When Steve Jobs returned in the 1990s, he started editing their product line. He winnowed it down to just the bare essentials. They make 4 primary products: iPod, iPad, iPhone and Mac.

They have tremendous clarity about who they are and how they do things.

They communicate everything they do with clarity.

If you want to dominate social media, you need to do that too. If you redesign your blog every month, I’ll never learn how to engage with it. If you make your social media activity so complicated I need a manual to figure out how to engage with you, I won’t.

That was the brilliance of Instagram, as a friend pointed out to me. He said, “Do you know why Instagram was able to enter an incredibly crowded social media landscape, photo apps, and dominate? They said ‘no.’ They resisted the urge to add features and features and features. They fought to keep their core competency and did a very small number of things brilliantly.”

He’s right. I tweeted about 50 photos in three years because the process was clunky. Then Instagram came on the scene with off the charts clarity. In less than a year, I’ve posted over 500 photos to Instagram. That’s the power of clarity.

In the old school, “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” model of journalism, content is the “What?” context is the “Where?” and clarity is the “How?”

How will you share your message?

How will people engage with you online?

How will your content be simply and powerfully presented?

On the next post of this series, we’ll talk about the fourth word, “Consistency.”

Question:
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “people have no idea what I’m trying to say online” and 10 being, “people know exactly what I’m all about,” how do you rank on clarity?

Read Part 2 of this series here; read Part 4 here.

Read more about Jon here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

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The 5 C’s of Social Media Dominance – Part 4

In previous posts, we talked about the first three C’s of social media dominance: contentcontext, and clarity. Today let’s talk about:

4. Consistency

Two years ago, the readers of my blog Stuff Christians Like raised $60,000 to build two kindergartens in Vietnam. It was an incredible experience, and it firmly cemented in my mind the power of what a generous community can do online.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an article about the first kindergarten, and the headline was, “Blogger raises $30,000 in 18 hours.” Technically, that headline was true, but the headline should have actually read, “Blogger raises $30,000 in 18 months.”

That’s how long it really took to raise the money. For 18 months, I consistently wrote Stuff Christians Like. I poured in a million words of the best ideas I could think of into the conversation with readers. Day after day, post after post, with consistency, I jumped into the discussion happening on Stuff Christians Like.

And I had written a different blog for a year before I started SCL. I didn’t show up one day out of the blue and say, “Hi, my name is Jon. You’ve never heard of me. Give me money for a kindergarten,” but sometimes we think that’s how social media works. We watch certain ideas go viral and think our business, cause, blog should go viral too. We want social media to be a silver bullet. Here’s the truth:

Social media isn’t a silver bullet. It’s a million free bullets.

If you use them with consistency and clarity, you can change the world.

If you try something for a month, though, and give up, you won’t change the world. If you write a blog for 90 days and quit, you won’t change the world. If you fool around with Twitter for a week and then stop, you won’t change the world.

It takes time.

It takes grind.

And it takes a commitment to consistency.

In the old school, “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” model of journalism, content is the “What?” context is the “Where?” clarity is the “How?” and consistency is the “When?”

When will you share your message?
When will you reach out to people?
When will you keep writing, blogging, and tweeting even when the results you’re looking for aren’t there?

In the final part of this post, we’ll talk about the fifth word, “Community.”

Read Part 3 here; read Part 5 here.

 Read more about Jon here.
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Jon Acuff

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Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

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The 5 C’s of Social Media Dominance – Part 5

In this series of posts, we’ve been talking about the 5 C’s of social media. We covered “ContentContextClarity and Consistency.” Today it’s time to talk about the final C:

5. Community.

In order to build a community, you have to decide which type of approach to social media you are going to take. And there are basically only three approaches:

1. Passion Approach

2. Ideas Approach

3. Personal Approach

In the passion approach, you write about everything related to one particular passion. You love knitting. You are crazy about knitting. And it’s your greatest desire to write about all things knitting. My blog Stuff Christians Like is an example of the passion approach. I write about Christian satire on that blog, and that’s it. In order to write about chasing a dream and hustling, I had to start a new blog instead of trying to cram those ideas into SCL.

In the ideas approach, you write about your ideas on a broad range of subjects. You are saying, “This item just passed through my filter of thinking. Here’s what I think about it.” Seth Godin’s blog is a great example of an ideas approach. He writes about publishing and marketing and dreams and business and a huge range of subjects, instead of just one singular passion.

In the personal approach, you write about every part of your life. This is like a reality show, where instead of cameras, you use social media to share. My friend Carlos Whittaker’s blog Ragamuffinsoul.com is a brilliant example of the personal approach. When he and his family decided to adopt, they didn’t just write about the idea of adoption. They took the whole world on the adventure with them to South Korea. And, in the process, they inspired other people to adopt.

There are some blogs and social media platforms that blur these approaches. But, for the most part, people pick one path and stick with it. The business blogger you love is not going to write about problems he’s having in his marriage. Carlos is not going to write worship leader posts for a solid year at the exclusion of everything else. And the reason is simple: communities want to know who you are.

If you read a blog about knitting for a year, and then all of the sudden the blogger said, “Today’s post is about how I’m having a hard time feeling loved by my husband,” that’d be a weird experience. We’d spent a year building a relationship around a passion approach, and now there’s suddenly a hard left turn into personal. If the Pioneer Woman deleted all her topics except one and said, “From now on I’m just focusing on writing about an obscure form of cattle breeding,” there’d be a disconnect. You spent years getting to know that amazing blog as an ideas approach, and the sudden transformation into a passion blog would be disappointing.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t evolve over time, but if you’re not deliberate about what your blog or social media platform is all about, your community will never know either.

And if they don’t know who you are, they’ll never know why they should be part of your community.

Read the previous posts from this series here: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4.

Read more from Jon here.

 

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Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

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