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Social media and networking have fooled a lot of people and companies into thinking they are rockstars. Unfortunately the ease of access and near zero cost of distribution have created an internet that sounds a lot like this. (bad music playing) The abundance of fake rockstars have created an audience that is willing to be your friend, but not willing to listen to what you have to say, buy your product, or help you get a job.
Unfortunately most people and businesses using social media and networking are following the funnel rule: Cram more people into your brand funnel, and maybe you can trick a few into listening to what you have to say. The problem with cramming is that it is costly both in time and brand credibility, and cramming is the most inefficient and absolute worst way to go about being a rockstar.
If you really want to be a rockstar, you have to understand one thing, and one thing only: contribution. Your power and influence are directly proportional to the amount you or your business contribute to your audience. When you look at the essence of relationship and group formation dynamics, contribution is the key element that unites and brings people together. It is a simple yet powerful concept that if understood and properly implemented can mean the difference between being truly great and just being noise.
This principle has not changed for thousands of years. When you look at all the rockstars throughout history, beethoven, einstein, gandhi, martin luther king jr., all have been immortalized not because they were interested in cramming people into their branding funnel, but because the impact of their contribution was so incredible people were naturally drawn to them.
A great way to visualize the power of contribution is to use Seth Godin's analogy of circles. As Seth put it in his blog post, most people are putting all their energy into increasing the size of their first circle, when the real power and size of their network lies in the second and third circles. The only way to gain access to the second circle is to create a message, product or service so incredible, unique or valuable that it contributes to your first circle in such a way that your first circle wants to share it with their first circle. If it is really amazing then your newly created second circle will share it their first circle giving you access to the third circle and so on…
One of our favorite stories of contribution and social networking is Zoe Keating. With nothing more than a cello and a macbook she is able to create beautiful loops of music that grow into incredible works of art. Is she actively seeking out new followers and friends for her twitter or facebook pages? No, but she has a razor sharp focus on following her passion to contribute some of the best music in the world. Her contribution shows in her numbers. She has over 1.2 million people following her on twitter. Her shows are regularly sold out and she has been featured in wired, n.p.r., and WNYC's Radio Lab.
The message is simple, if you want to be a rockstar, stop trying to add more people to your first circle or cram them into your branding funnel and start contributing content, products, and services that are so incredible that they are worth linking to and talking about. In our next post we will give tips for making your contribution social media ready. Thanks for watching and we look forward to your feedback!