(Listen to the audio version of this post at Soundcloud)
Imagine a large field. Choose your backdrop: mountains, a river, a forest. Make it your own.
Let’s plant one flower right smack dab in the middle of your field, and give it a little water and fertilizer. It grows. It looks beautiful.
Now let’s plant one thousand seeds in your field, and give it a little water and fertilizer.
The result? A beautiful Instagram image – a field of gorgeous flowers.
Most people’s personal social media strategy is comprised of the single flower plan, and that’s a tragic mistake.
It’s quite difficult to create a viral video product. The reason? The notion of throwing up one single video and having a million people find it, share it and love it is akin to catching lightning in a bottle. The genesis of most successful videos is propagation – having it live on many sites at the same time.
When you plant a thousand seeds in your “field” you are creating a personal brand that is discoverable by a larger potential audience. Many people create beautiful websites to promote their business, book or product. They spend a large chunk of time perfecting that glorious home page, then they wonder why they don’t get any traffic.
This is a huge mistake for several reasons. The “link” ecosystem we now live in sends visitors to specific pages on sites, not to a home page. The single site strategy, combined with investment in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is throwing money into a black hole. SEO is fading in importance, and anyone who tells you differently is trying to lighten your wallet.
You have to be in many places simultaneously.
I tell my students that if they want to create short-form documentaries for a living, all of their video samples must be examples of…documentary film making. They need to choose a “genre” and display only examples of work that are in that category. When they display wacky videos of friends and hard news reporting on their channels, they are not representing their personal brand effectively. They need to create channels and portfolios that are genre-specific, and post those portfolios on as many social sites and galleries as possible.
I am constantly amazed when I hear folks tell me they are “too busy” for social media. The whole point of promoting yourself or your enterprise is to use these networks to create a reputation for yourself. You should be devoting time to propagating, polishing and feeding your brand online.
The strategy I recommend to students is a four-step process:
1) Learning about yourself and what your unique talents are
2) Creating a uniform, consistent brand across many social networks
3) Contributing to the community by promoting others whose talents and portfolios of work you admire
4) Relentlessly feeding your personal brand without phony hype
Number one is the most important item, and it’s the one most people often don’t consider. I don’t show students how to create a LinkedIn profile – they know how to fill in empty boxes on a form. I tell them words matter, and the words they use to describe themselves and their unique contribution to the universe is critical to their success. After they feel a sense of their place in the world, they can then tell the world what they’re all about, and they need to do that in as many places as possible.
The 1000 seed strategy is used by successful companies, by successful artists, and by people who find great jobs. Companies spend huge amounts of time looking online for people just like you. They are invisibly recruiting future employees. Your finely-tuned personal brand is what they were hoping to find.
If you need some help with that tune up, I’m here to help. I’d love to hear you thoughts as well! Share some words below.
John Scott is a media instructor, online education coordinator and the career services manager at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels individuals and groups in the art of reinvention. John’s debut book Broken Glass and Barbed Wire will be available during the holiday season.