Other Relevant Posts in This Series

  1. Replication 102 - Making Email Work for You
  2. Replication 101 - Why to Appear to Be Everywhere at Once

Before we look at how to be everywhere at once, shouldn’t we ask ourselves why we would want to be?

If you’re already famous outside the internet, people will come to you online. Guy Kawasaki, Bob Lutz and Tim Ferriss could just write their blogs and attract thousands of readers and hundreds of comments without spending any time participating in social networking sites, leaving comments on other blogs, doing social bookmarking, etc.

peoplearrow.gifBut for the rest of us, we can start our own conversation — blogs, discussion forums, etc. — but if that’s all we do, it will likely be a field of dreams. You can’t build it and expect that the people will come — you have to go out into the virtual world and join the conversation where it is already taking place. Where are the people who are your target market talking about the things related to your expertise and your business? THAT is where you need to be.

While I agree with J.P. that new media changes the rules of marketing, there are some things that remain the same. And one of them is the concept of “reach” and “frequency”. Simple enough — generally in marketing, you want to increase the number of people you reach and the frequency with which which they hear your message. The catch is that with constrained resources — your time and budget — there’s a trade-off between reach and frequency, i.e., increase one and the other goes down. For example, an ad that reaches more people costs more money, so you can’t afford to buy as many spots, so the frequency goes down.

In the social media context, for the small business owner, the constraint is usually time, not money (since participation is usually either free or for a fixed monthly fee). You only have so many hours in the day you can spend participating in new media, and if you spread that across a large number of sites, you will increase your reach, but decrease your frequency.

But in the social media context, it’s a little more complex than just that. For one thing, as J.P. alluded to in the article linked above, in new media, there is such a thing as too much frequency. This is true even when you have permission. For example, a group in which you participate regularly may be perfectly happy to have you announce that your new book has been published, or that you’re offering a teleclass that you only do once or twice a year, but start trying to announce something every month and your welcome will wear thin very quickly.

For another, as he pointed out, the quality of those frequent interactions means everything. If those appearances consistently appear to be self-serving, every increase in frequency will actually hurt you, not help you. And if they are simply perceived as being low-value contributions (”me too”, “way to go”, etc.), then a high frequency will hurt you, as well. You may not be seen as a shameless self-promoter, just a boor.

So now that we’ve established that there’s such a thing as too high a frequency, as well as too low, what we need to do is figure out the optimal frequency for participation and then maximize our reach within our resource constraints.

everywhereonline.gifOr, in plain English, we want to be in as many places as possible, but with enough quality interaction in each place to actually accomplish something, and not just be a drive-by.

As my coauthor and I wrote in one of our FastCompany.com columns, I Am Not a Number!:

The first thing you have to do is get the right frame of mind about why you’re using technology to help you manage your relationships. It is not so you can pretend to a larger number of people that you care about them when you really don’t. It’s so you can treat more people who you really do care about as you would like to treat them, if only your brain were capable.

Let’s extend that beyond individual people and let’s say communities. What you want to do with these new media tools isn’t to mine these communities to see what value you can extract; what you want to do is monitor these communities to see what value you can contribute. And when you consistently create value for other people, they will create value for you.

Over the coming weeks I’m going to be showing you how to appear to be everywhere at once — specific strategies for effectively engaging in multiple communities with less effort. But for now, let’s start by getting in the right frame of mind.

Scott Allen helps people turn virtual relationships into real business. He is coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, an A-list blogger as the Entrepreneurs Guide for About.com, and a monthly columnist for FastCompany.com. He runs his latest project, Revenue River, on the BLOG i360 New Media Marketing system.

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