3 simple truths about your online presence

frank capra

In one of my previous posts I talked about the importance of building your community of supporters, people who share your view of the world and values –your tribe as some refer to it.

And when I think of community, I think in every aspect of it: people in physical community are organized and engaged in certain activities and mostly are oriented towards shared goals, values and trust.

Well, much of that we can apply to our online community as well:

  1. Engagement. For fostering mutual trust we need interaction, honest exchange of information and responsiveness to inflow of new ideas, opinions and views. In every community, communication is a two-direction street, a beating heart of your online presence. No matter how large community you might think you have, empty number without discussion and healthy exchange of ideas is like living in an empty, cold, dark cave when from time to time you stumble upon some living creature, and the only sound returning to you is your echo … I always encourage even having smaller group, but the one that is your real audience, ready to complement your every victory and comfort you in your small omissions…that is warm and feisty; that in the same time can understand you and guide you. One simple way to improve engagement is a call for action. Invite your audience to share their experiences, their views, problems… by honoring them in this way your empty and cold cave is transforming into a warm home, filled with real emotions.
  1. Sharing is caring. In old times, before the internet era, companies were in charge of disseminating information, which means they had better control of what kind of information went into the ether. Now we have a different problem: we are facing the challenge of getting the right information. People are turning to internet and social media to dig up what they need to know. In order for your content to be noticed, It has to be relevant to your audience, that is helpful and contributes to improving their lives in some way; entertaining or provides different experience. That’s why sharing is important. It’s your ritual of giving pieces of your time, knowledge and energy and this type of investment that adds value, is building even stronger connections of trust – among you and your target audience.
  1. Make your message clear and focused as much as possible. In other words, find your writing niche. I like to read poetry, for example. But even in poetry I have preferences: I like long, prose poems, with lot of mythology even Gothic atmosphere entwined. So the writings of Margaret Atwood, W. B. Yeats and Kelly Boyker appeal to me very much. Or surrealist approach to poetry.

So, even in your writing, when you try to be narrow as much as possible, you attract right people. If you write to be liked by everyone-chances are you hardly get noticed. People like to feel special, like you are writing specifically for them or referring to their specific experience. When people identify with the message you are sharing, they like to talk about it, share it further: in simple words – your community is growing.

And of me say the fools:
With my poetry
I violated the sky’s commands.
Said who
Love is
The honor-ravager of the sky?
The sky is my intimate.
It cries if I cry,
Laughs if I laugh
And its stars
Greatens their brilliance
If
One day I fall in love.
What so
If in the name of my beloved I chant,
And like a chestnut tree
In every capital I, her, plant.

Fondness will remain my calling,
Like all prophets.
And infancy, innocence
And purity.
I will write of my beloved’s matters
Till I melt her golden hair
In the sky’s gold.
I am,
And I hope I change not,
A child
Scribbling on the stars’ walls
The way he pleases,
Till the worth of love
In my homeland
Matches that of the air,
And to love dreamers I become
A diction-ary,
And over their lips I become
An A
And a B.

Nizar Qabbani
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Are you ready to enter a new relationship? 9 luscious ways to seduce your reader with your writing!

John Cheever

You as a writer and author, while building your audience are becoming a brand. And your writing is your best branding and marketing tool that exists. Words, emotions, message you transcend through your writing is that magnet that attract readers who share your values and point of view. But once they jump into your writing boat, you and your readers began to interact and build certain relationships; things become different, and a little bit complicated. But you as a writer, don’t want the status: It’s complicated. You want the status: Engaged.

Think about it for a second:

When you are in a relationship with someone and you enjoy it:

  • it is a person you are looking forward to see;
  • it someone you care about and like spending time with;
  • it’s probably someone who shares your values as well;
  • you interact on the basis of mutual trust.

Even classical marketing is moving from brand oriented marketing to marketing that is oriented towards building relationships.

To truly understand what kind of impact is your writing having on your readers you can ask yourself these questions:

Did my writing enabled me to build meaningful connections with my readers?

If not, what can I do to emulate the positive dynamics of such relationships?

  • It has to be a content your reader likes spending time reading;
  • It has to offer something of interest that makes your reader want to  expect fresh content and read it again;
  • That content deals with topics your reader cares about and shares his values.

In order to achieve these objectives you can apply certain tactics through your content:

  1. Offer your readers opportunity to know about you and don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability. In that way you are engraving that human component in your writing and building foundation for future relationship.
  2. Offer understanding, compassion; be helpful through your writing.
  3. Use catchy anecdotes and funny stories that are amusing and captivating.
  4. Show you’re interested in their perspective on things, even if it doesn’t agree with your own.
  5. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. What I mean is that pretty much the same message you deliver you can say in different ways and modes of expressing. People digest information differently. I remember while I was working with students, the more graphics I used, the students at the class were more ‘tuned in’ with the information, absorbing it in with wide open eyes, not wanting anything to miss. So use visuals as well, audio features, retell what you have to say in different ways.
  6. Be chatty. Start a conversation by asking questions.
  7. Always spice up everything with your quirkiness, with something that makes you different and that can enrich your content to the level it is worth remembering and sharing.
  8. Let your readers know that you are accountable and professional, but throw some ball once in a while. Add some playfulness in your writing because too much of serious approach can be sobering and counter effective.
  9. But never go across the line of NOT being you. What ever you write, be true to yourself because dishonesty leads to mistrust and deceit and like in any relationship, your reader might just break up with you and your writing (remember: rebound can be painful 😉 ).

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence – this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word ‘woods.’
Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they’ll never let her get away.

Wislawa Szymborska

A community: what it means for you and your (writing) business

community

Humans are social beings. No matter how we might enjoy solitude (for many reasons, like creativity, that’s already written throughout this blog), we want to satisfy that need for belonging to a group that shares our vision, interests; who can help us find and deliver our purpose. In this post I emphasized the importance of defining our message that will resonate with who we really are, what we stand for, what we believe and our true values. It’s a way we brand ourselves.

I would say that this is the first step in creating your community. Community is about interaction and engagement based on trust where reciprocity is the absolute law. The more value and contribution you put out there, the more like-minded people you will attract. How physically the exchange of information will go is of lesser importance. Being that blog, twitter, facebook, podcast … or a chit-chat with a friend over coffee – each time you communicate you build your community. Sure, some people come and go, but community is a live thing: it changes and evolves along with you. With your growth and your contribution,  your audience grows, matures,  breathe, dream, eat, sleep, just as you do! In other words, how much work and effort you put in your community, there is a higher probability for your message to be heard at broader scope. In return, your supporters will help you grow your business.

One of the vital ingredients that you need to provide while building your community is a personal touch. Most people best relate to struggles, little victories and specific experiences of their peers. They easily identify their own needs and wants, which is a force in building an audience. By sharing our story with them we give an opportunity to people to learn from us as well.

There is no one out there with your skills, your experiences, but you. And you bring that uniqueness to your community, that ‘quirkiness’ that differentiate you from other people. It’s a sure way to building your right audience.

And is also true that people easily get destracted, with life going too fast and information that is bombarding all our senses. What you deliver to your community has to be focused and relevant message and on the regular basis. Distraction leads to oblivion.

And your community has to be well pampered with all goodness you can provide, because at the end of the day how much you have been of service to your community, will show the real support you have.

As long as you stick to these rules, your community will start to manifest and yet you will never have to impose any self-promotion and marketing. Your behavior, communication and contribution, in my opinion is the best marketing tool you can apply.

Good we must love, and must hate ill,
For ill is ill, and good good still ;
But there are things indifferent,
Which wee may neither hate, nor love,
But one, and then another prove,
As we shall find our fancy bent.

If then at first wise Nature had
Made women either good or bad,
Then some wee might hate, and some choose ;
But since she did them so create,
That we may neither love, nor hate,
Only this rests, all all may use.

If they were good it would be seen ;
Good is as visible as green,
And to all eyes itself betrays.
If they were bad, they could not last ;
Bad doth itself, and others waste ;
So they deserve nor blame, nor praise.

But they are ours as fruits are ours ;
He that but tastes, he that devours,
And he that leaves all, doth as well ;
Changed loves are but changed sorts of meat ;
And when he hath the kernel eat,
Who doth not fling away the shell?

John Donne