If you’re not familiar, the “platform” is the collection of people whose eyes are going to see and engage with a given person’s social media and marketing presence. It’s not merely how many followers you have on your blog, or how many Likes you have on Facebook. It’s about how many people will probably take the time to pay attention to what you have to say, through whatever avenues you communicate.
Your platform is what gets you heard in the sea of shouting voices.
Michael Hyatt has a fantastic book all about it. If you’re blogging, you probably already knew about that.
Yesterday, I was reading some posts online and reflecting on what I understand about building a platform. I took some time to start up an account on Google Plus. I also engaged in a limited discussion on Twitter. And in the middle of that, a question came to mind:
How effective is my Christian platform?
Am I thinking about how many people I can reach with the Gospel? Not exactly. I’m not counting Facebook friends and associations on LinkedIn. Nor am I getting ready to up my social media Bible-thumping with posts you should “Share unless you’re ashamed of Jesus” or pictures of Scripture verses superimposed on sunsets. And I am not thinking of how many people pack into the church on Sunday, nor am I looking at all of them as potential targets of my marketing campaign.
I’m thinking that the principles of building an online platform can in many ways apply to how I live my life as a follower of Christ with a message I want to share and a world that generally isn’t interested.
With that in mind, I’m going to post about platform for a while, both how it works in the world of social media, and how I believe it applies to my faith.
For example, a friend started a blog recently, and his first post discussed changing his business model from trying to attract interest in his product to showing interest in the lives of others. Instead of hocking his wares and chasing down disinterested customers, he started spending a little effort to chat with folks, one person to another, simply showing interest in them as valuable people.
Once he got to know them a bit, and more importantly, they got to know him, he was able to adjust his pitch to their individual needs to find out whether they would be interested in his product.
It’s the old saw that “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
As a blogger, I can rant and rave and become one of the spamming hordes that comment on random posts with “Hey good blog check out mine here’s the link.” No one wants that. That doesn’t build a platform, because it doesn’t build relationships. It’s the door-to-door method, the street-corner preacher yelling at anyone in earshot.
I would much rather find some people with similar interests, people who have a unique voice, plain folk with whom I can relate as plain folk. Often, they have things to say that I need to hear. I have to hope that sometimes what I say benefits them. If nothing else, we interact with each other and share life as much as one can over a blog.
I think of one of the blogs I follow, that of “an Opinionated Man.” He has a horde of followers, in part because I think he lives online, given how much he interacts with all of them. He certainly speaks his mind and communicates his message. But he also makes effort to listen to others, and that wins people over. That connection, for me, is part of how a platform is built.
Now, as I type all this, I can almost hear some say, “Christ is the Foundation, the Gospel is the message, nothing else is needed.”
That’s where they’re wrong. But that will be the next post.
Let me know in a comment what you think about the importance of relationships to building a platform – social or spiritual.