This is part 2 of a 3 post series.
An extract from Sonja Falvo's new eBook: http://www.sonjafalvo.com/books.html
Great tribal leadership on social media – an interview on Facebook
Hi Robin, thanks again for being able to do this Facebook interview / conversation. As you know I think Sharewords is a brilliant concept. I see it as a great example of how connecting with people in a meaningful way has a reach far beyond the platform of social media. Was this the intention and how did the whole Sharewords concept come about?
Thank you, David. I appreciate your kind encouragement.
Sharewords is part of a much longer term strategy that I have been gently unfolding online for the past year. My diamond focus is to 'Help you succeed in business' and I commit full resources to enabling this.
An important part of helping businesses succeed is to facilitate the strongest possible word-ofmouth recommendation. It's highly profitable and it works wonders. Ask any business owner or solopreneur what will help them grow and you get an almost reflex response is "Spread the word!"
i.e. tell others about my business so that I get more customers.
Sharewords is a proactive response from business people to take control and craft the words *they* want spread! Think about how you share recommendations with your friends and colleagues. You use 4-5 words -quickly and effortlessly delivered. It's not a clunky sentence, nor the old-fashioned elevator pitch.
So, as a professional business development facilitator, I've been running a "live" workshop on RADSMARTS to show people how to develop their sharewords. The response has been massive. It's how we met, David.
The response is without doubt massive -I don't think I've seen as many responses to one blog post and it's still growing. The growth has also moved strongly into Twitter, Facebook and I believe a collaborative online newspaper.
I first became interested in sharewords after seeing perhaps 3 or 4 tweets about it from a couple of people I follow. What hooked me was the value of what you're offering – you provide a phrase (sharewords) that succinctly captures what a particular business is all about. This is done only after becoming very informed about what’s unique to the business and all free of charge. It goes beyond the usual free ebook or webinar and that’s what I believe really sets you apart – it directly shows that you are exactly what you say you’re about – interested and capable in helping a wide variety of business succeed. Your authenticity is easy to see.
A lot of companies interested in moving in similar direction might see this as a huge hurdle. The concern would be that if they offer so much value without monetising it, they’ll be taken for a ride
– their potential customers will just take what they need and move on.
What are your thoughts on this?
These are important observations you make, David. Things I have given much consideration to.
Think of the Sharewords post as part of the roll-out of a long-term strategy. Before publishing anything online, I thought long and hard about the hows and whys of my online participation, especially from a commercial perspective.
A key element of my online strategy is to attract and help a relatively small group of highly motivated 'like-minds' who also want to succeed commercially online. This value-based approach is very different from the volume-based approach that many businesses take i.e. get huge lists of large numbers of followers, subscribers and try and convert a tiny % into sales.
If I can find and help 100 succeed, who in turn can find and help 100 succeed, the leverage is enormous and highly sustainable. (This is called the Centurion project). Compare this with volume approaches that are resource hungry at a rate proportional to growth.
Implementing this value-plan effectively will take several years, and relies on attracting the right people.
Enter, the Sharewords post. The purpose of this post is to help me identify potential collaborators for the long-term plan. So far 24 people have joined the Centurion project as a direct result of their strong participation in this post. It has proven to be a vastly efficient way of helping strong people find me.
Outside of the context of this strategy, the Sharewords-style post -or online workshop as is probably a more apt description -wouldn't make any sense to me. To this point, I see many people blowing large amounts of their time, effort, money and intellectual property outside of any commercially solid plan.
How can that be sustainable?
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. A lot of projects / businesses tend to take two contradicting approaches with social media. One is what's closer to a campaign style that builds a whole lot of attention in a short space of time. There’s usually a big enough carrot (like a 10k prize) and in this sense it’s about buying an audience's engagement. At the same time there’s the hope that community continues to contribute and be engaged. One has an extrinsic value and is often short lived because it doesn’t always turn into an intrinsic value.
That’s the hard one – how do we create just being a part of that particular community as a value in itself – without the need for a succession of big enough carrots?
Personally, I’ve been a part of various social media communities and often ‘drop out’. I believe at that point it’s a question of motivation; people tend to be much more motivated in a group when there’s a sense of working towards a greater good. I see inklings of that in your project – perhaps that’s a part of your bigger picture?
Sustained motivation is something I think about a lot.
For me, the drivers of sustained motivation in a community like the Centurions are a combination of a) attracting people who are naturally self-motivated and 'lower maintenance'; b) providing a regular scoreboard or feedback mechanism that tracks results; c) having a forum for regular, honest communication d) knowing that you are part of something big and bold and e) me being available to support members during their 'hour of need'.
Your point about 'working towards the greater good' is part of the fabric of the community spirit. That said, I make it very clear that this is a commercial venture aimed at generating more and more money for less and less work.
People have said that my approach is somewhat altruistic. For example, the many hours of sustained, high quality input I have invested into helping people craft their sharewords.
I don't think of myself as altruistic at all. I help people because I like helping people AND because it's commercially effective. It's been my offline business model for 20 years because it works so well to generate sustained profits -and I make absolutely no secret about it.
Does that make sense to you, David?
Certainly does. I actually think the idea that giving high value and receiving nothing in return won't happen in most cases. It's more likely people give the same value back or sometimes even more. People call it reciprocity but really value exchanges are what we've been doing for eons.
If we take the example of Sharewords I'd understand your return as being:
- Quality referrals / recommendations
- Active contributions / involvement
- Monetary Those things sustain each other and as you say make it commercially viable (online / offline).
Comparing the two though, I'd imagine point 1 has huge implications for this model in terms of
the exponential reach available online. I've lost count of how many times I've eagerly referred
Sharewords online / word of mouth and I'm just one of many. This reach must make it far easier to source the right community members (Centurions) who I imagine are key to taking this project even further.
What has been the result so far for yourself and the Centurions?
The results so far are:
- Clear feedback that a value-based model can work. Until I launched Centurions, it was purely theoretical;
- Better online metrics for less work. For example, blog views and engagement remain strong for vastly less work;
- Increased sales: it's early days, but members are reporting positive sales boosts.
Being based on a geometric progression, the results and returns from the early phases of the Centurion model will be modest and barely visible i.e initially the graph is asymptotic. The mid-later stages become much more interesting as the results compound. I think it was Albert
Einstein who said "The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest". We shall see. I must say that I find a model based on the notion of earning more and more money for less and
less work fascinating.
You're in a sense creating a tribe of tribal leaders around a shared set of values. That's got to grow your connections around your value approach exponentially (and it has). The effort of finding and directing connections gets distributed across all those involved so I imagine it must lessen the effort load.
So as you say, less work for greater outcomes!
It's indeed a very fascinating area and it’s great to watch it unfold for you.
Reed's law (like Einstein's words ) is a good example for how growth compounds on networks. Social media is an apt example.
2(to the power of N) – N – 1 = potential connections
N are participants, so 100 participants has the value of 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376 possible connections!
I came across it on George Beckenstein's blog: http://www.benckenstein.com/digital-media/swine-flu-susan-boyle-and-the-network-multiplier effect/
By the way before we wrap this up, where's the best place to find out more about the Centurions? And do you have any other quick tips to share for those wanting to do something like Sharewords and the Centurions on social media?
Thank you, David. I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss these ideas with you.
If readers would like help creating their sharewords, simply come to the article and start participating. It's that easy.
For more information about the Centurions, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you and your readers every success in business and in life.
I'll extend that wish too and thanks again, it's been a very enlightening discussion :-)