A concern came up in my client group, and you may be able to relate…
So much of what is shared these days comes from a competition to “shine” by getting more “likes”, in this “designed to be addictive” process, a survival competition that plays upon our worst fears of being unliked and of not making ends meet if we don’t “grow our audience”. This push to shine and reach the numbers has become so excessive that there is too much empty content out there…
On the other hand, many of us have a message that wants to come through, and even though we may be introverts, who don’t even like the limelight, and would rather not have to put our faces out in this way, our service is calling us to bring our message out…
This is the challenge: being my Soulful self amidst the “noise”. Concentrating on my message and bringing it out at my pace, while also encouraging those who are bringing out their Soulful messages. And find our healthy and creative ways of playing this game!
— shared with permission from a client. Though they chose to be anonymous, I’m guessing many of you can relate!
Here’s my response:
Top of Mind
The reality is that frequency of contact determines whether someone is “top of mind”. The quicker people can remember you, the more often you’ll get client inquiries and other opportunities.
There is quantity of content, and then there’s quality.
Ideally, we would do both.
If I had to choose one to recommend as a focus, I would recommend quantity.
Each of us needs to find a rhythm that is doable for our own schedule and energy. How often are you able to create/share content? Do it as often as you can. Whatever your rhythm (even if once a week) it is good enough for now. As you grow your capacity to create, try to post more frequently. You’ll be even more top-of-mind for your audience.
But what about quality? Of course I care, but with years of experience, I have become agnostic about it…
I’ve learned from experience that just because I spend more time or energy working on something, it doesn’t mean that people will “get it”.
In fact, some of my most viral posts were created from a moment of inspiration (at which point I quickly jot down the idea in my phone… then during my scheduled time for content creation, I write an article and do an FB live video.)
At the same time, many such “inspirational” moments also resulted in content that didn’t go anywhere. Nobody “got” it. Perhaps I was ahead of my time. Or the content was too specific to my own personal experience.
Therefore, I’ve learned to let go of what is “quality”, knowing that, with enough quantity, the quality and impactful things will surface themselves. This brings me to the next point…
Let the Market Decide
If we are creating content in part to grow our business, then we have no choice but to “let the market decide”. We can work for hours, weeks, or months on something that we believe will be “quality”… but then the market still will be the ultimate arbiter… not us creators.
A case in point: recently I saw the film “Terminator Dark Fate” and I thought it was the best of the series. It was very well produced and had impressive actors. Yet, it flopped commercially. Even the director said in an interview “We don’t know why it didn’t do well.” This is a team that spent 200 million dollars and 5 years to make a movie… and sadly it was not profitable.
The same could be said of many startup companies founded by brilliant people, expert marketers, and funded by very experienced investors — and yet the majority of startups still fail.
The market will decide.
What this means is that even someone’s social media posts, content, or books might feel empty or shallow to us… it may mean that we are not their market. If they do well commercially, then they are “right” in terms of their business/content decision. We are incorrect to say it’s empty… the market has decided otherwise.
The same goes with our content: we can be deeply soulful, purposeful, impactful (in our opinion) but if we’re doing this in part to grow our business, then the market will decide whether it’s soulful or not.
On social media, this means the algorithm will surface the most impactful pieces.
No matter our judgments of any piece of content, if their audience finds it impactful, it will get lots of likes, comments, shares, and it will rise up in the news feed or the search results.
One of my clients then asked:
“What if the market is getting dumber and dumber? — I know I’m being crass but this is something I think about. I really want to trust the market, and let’s face it, I don’t really have a choice if I want a viable business, but how do you trust that the market will see value in what you do as long as you keep doing it?”
It reminds me of a line that a smart marketer told me once… “The market isn’t dumb. She’s your wife.” (He wasn’t literally talking about my wife, since it was a video for everyone, but it has a lot of wisdom for us.)
We tend to think the market / people are easily influenced by flashy brands and dumbed-down ideas, but in truth our ideal market is like our ideal clients — smart and discerning, but occasionally (like all of us) they can make bad purchasing choices, falling for marketing hype… as we occasionally do, or have done in the past.
But in 5 years of making lots of content, I’ve come to see this difficult truth:
I often think I’ve created something awesome, deep, life-changing… and yet even my ideal clients don’t get it.
With enough time and distance, I look back at that same thing, and realize I had yet again fallen for the mental bias of seeing my own creation as great, because it relates to a personal experience, but is not understandable for the rest of the world.
We really need quite a bit of distance to see our own creations objectively. The shortcut, however, is to observe the market’s reaction!
Instead of trying to create smart/meaningful content, what if you create content on what is obvious to you, that you notice is not obvious to most other people?
Everyone Needs Expression to Grow
What’s important is to give people the opportunity to express themselves. This is where soulfulness meets reality. The more people find the courage (and consistency) to express themselves, the more chance they have to learn what is their true voice, their soulful thoughts.
It’s also true that someone can talk daily for years and not really touch their soulfulness. We need to give them that choice, too.
Thankfully, we are here in a community that will inspire us to keep tapping deeper, to see wider, to make more of an impact in our content.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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