There is a story of a teacher who asks her students, “What is the color of an apple?”
“Red,” says everyone. Except for one student, who says, “White.”
Assuming that the student’s soul is being misguided, the teacher, with compassion, says, “White? No, dear. The apple is either red or green”.
The student with wrinkles on his forehead and a frown says, “But what happens if you cut it? The inside of the apple is always white.”.
We are trapped in our biases. We are so accustomed to our perceptions that we don’t know what lies outside them.
Take social media, for example
I have been publishing daily on Linkedin for a while now. I have loved every bit of it. Publishing there has helped me develop my ideas, make new friends, and deepen my expertise. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else.
But then there is this lurking thought. Small, powerless at first… like a cute puppy. But at times, like a giant rhinoceros – Where are all the followers?
Where are the likes, comments, and shares?
Despite my consistency, I haven’t reached a level where my content is being viewed by thousands of people. I am, by no stretch of imagination, an influencer. Which makes me question everything. What am I doing on social media in the first place?
Is social media the right platform to build my audience?
1. Social media is competitive
It’s an everyday battle. Millions of pieces of content are floating around. The pressure is on me to find a way to beat all these other pieces of content. Only then will I be noticed.
In order to accomplish this mission, should I choose to accept it, I would need aggressive hooks that interrupt the scrolling and capture the reader’s attention. I might also need to write short, formulaic posts that are easy to digest instead of long, nuanced posts that go deep into a topic.
I have also seen some Creators publishing a post on Linkedin and then asking their connections (through a private message) to comment on this post. Hell, I have done it a couple of times. The more the number of comments, the greater the probability of Linkedin showing your content to more people.
I don’t think I want to do this for my content.
But what about Justin Welsh?
There are numerous examples of people who have used social media to build their empires.
Justin Welsh is a good contemporary example who has achieved this feat. His content is interesting as well.
It’s not that this path doesn’t work. You could build an audience using Linkedin or other platforms.
It’s just that this path isn’t working out for me.
Will I stop publishing on social?
As I said, writing on social media is fun. It’s exciting to have your first sip of coffee, open your Linkedin and publish a post from the ‘Ready to be published’ folder. Social media is also a great platform to test your ideas and see what resonates.
I won’t stop publishing on social media. And yet, you wouldn’t see me putting in the effort to build a mass audience there, at least in the near future.
2. If not social media, then what?
To find an alternative, I had to break out of my biases and be more like the kid who pointed out that the apple could be white. I noticed that Creators I admire always built their audience somewhere outside social media. It was either through blogging, podcasting, or a YouTube channel. Sometimes even a book. The audience that was built here then followed these Creators to social media.
An idea had been nagging me for a while. Back in 2017, I conducted a few workshops on Marketing. It was fun. It was two days of intense deep-dive into Marketing, a ton of insights, and a lot of fun. I made some good friends in the process. The relationships that I built then have lasted till today.
Conducting physical workshops
That is what I am banking on. I am in the process of building workshops for small businesses in Pune. It’s a small bet, of course. Filling up a workshop with attendees is one of the hardest things to do. And yet, I want to see where it takes me. What works in my favour is that I am a good teacher, a decent speaker, and love being in a room with like-minded people.
Here’s the crazy part
If everything goes well (and I could very well be dreaming here), the relationships I build through my workshops will be taken to the online world. In other words, these students could be the ones that follow me on social media and start engaging with the content that I am putting it. Let’s see how this unfolds.
3. What am I doing in the online world?
1. Daily emails (that are also published as Linkedin posts)
2. One video for my YouTube channel
3. One blog article per week
1. The daily emails help me deepen my trust with the subscribers that I have.
2. My YouTube channel will continue to get better with time. The hope and the dream is to teach people the topics of Marketing and Storytelling, eventually getting them into my daily email list. The larger goal here is to deepen my expertise and help my audience in the process.
3. The weekly blog is to deepen my expertise around specific topics and clarify my thinking. It may not yield any results now, but hopefully, it will become another asset that keeps building a relationship with the audience.
It is all interconnected, with one platform showing the potential to help another platform. This online world is interconnected with the offline world.
How will I get visibility for my content?
There is one question that remains unanswered. If I let go of social media as my primary channel to get attention, how will I create awareness? Hmmm, a missing piece of the puzzle.
Now, in an ideal world, I want my content to be remarkable… so good that it cannot be ignored.
Most of the creators I admire were recommended by my friends (and not by a Google algorithm). They were so touched, moved, inspired, or informed by their content that they couldn’t resist sharing. That is how I would want to be discovered as well. But I probably would need some time to get there.
In the meantime
I am banking on my YouTube channel and workshops to become high-leverage channels. Another thing I am considering is collaborating with others to get in front of their audience. This could mean appearing on other podcasts as a guest (who in their right mind would consider having me, though?) and conducting free sessions at co-working spaces or other businesses. This is still a raw thought, and I need to refine this further and, most importantly – take action!
My discomfort with social media is pushing me to explore other platforms to build awareness and trust with the people I seek to serve. In the online world, I am banking on YouTube, my daily emails, and my blog, whereas in the offline world, workshops and collaboration with others are where my hopes lie.
The uncertainty prevails. But I am glad that I have opened myself to the possibility that an apple can be white.