Dec 19, 2013

Platforms Don’t Grow Themselves

“If you build it, they will come.” It’s an appealing idea, but it’s not going to happen.

The Sticky Branding group on LinkedIn has over 27,000 members, and it grows by 200+ new members per week. It’s one of the largest branding groups on LinkedIn, but it took a heck of a lot of effort to get off the ground.

My team and I spent nine months inviting one person at a time to get the group to 1,000 members. We invested at least an hour a day per person promoting the group, inviting people, engaging them in conversations, and making it a worthwhile experience.

Platforms don’t grow themselves. You’ve got to take the initiative and responsibility to get it off the ground.

A platform starts with you

I chose to build a social media group on LinkedIn, because that’s where I was the most active in 2010. I had around 700 personal connections, and it made sense to build a group where I could invite people I was already connected to.

I invited all my connections, and I went out of my way to make new connections so I’d have even more people to recruit to my group.

It was a hunting venture. My team and I set weekly targets for our group’s growth, we strategized on how we’d hit those goals, and we rolled up our sleeves and got it done. It wasn’t glamorous or sophisticated work. It was networking, calling and emailing to invite one person at a time.

Size Matters

There’s an ongoing debate amongst marketers on quality versus quantity. Let’s put this to bed. Size matters.

Yes, deep personal relationships are important, but a platform requires size. It’s a question of influence:

  1. The more people you reach and engage, the more your ideas can travel.
  2. Size provides social proof. A large, visible platform helps your customers validate that your brand is better.

Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary Agents shared excellent targets for how large an author’s platform should be to attract a publisher:

  • 30,000 visitors per month to your blog
  • 5,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter
  • 100,000 readers per month on an email newsletter

These targets work for businesses too. If you want the phone to ring weekly with new opportunities consider how you can get your platform to these levels or higher.

Platforms start with sales

Growing a platform starts with good ol’ fashioned sales.

Fancy marketing campaigns and promotions are not the starting point for building a platform. It starts with the basics:

  • Be an active networker
  • Attend conferences and events
  • Follow up with old clients and colleagues
  • Reach out to people far and wide

If you sell it, they will come.

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