Playing The Long Game v The Short Attention Hit
It is a great feeling to be recognised and praised from others, but building something over the long haul, where you own the process, can be far more rewarding.
Going all in and embracing short-term attention and positive feedback on social media, for many people, is a mark of success. The views, likes, shares and acclaim feeds everyone’s ego, it’s hypnotic. Mark Schaefer threw a recent word of caution (February 22nd), “If you’re not careful, fueling your social media habits can eat your business alive.”
People liking what you share shows for a moment in time, someone you might not know enjoyed your work. It also means the algorithm will choose more people to see and have the opportunity to like what you say.
The best thing is it means you can come back to it time and time again for a quick hit. However, does the easy-to-measure numbers start to become the easy way out but doesn’t really equate to much at all?
In the short term, the adulation received is on someone else’s space ie. LinkedIn, not yours. That is fine, but when you take a longer view and create your own space, where you can address people, this is where you have more room to play and win.
Let’s look at the short-term attention alongside signing up for the long term and the types of measurement that matter.
The Positive Short Term
Here is the dream scenario. If 100 people liked your LinkedIn post, followed you on Twitter, visited your website or subscribed to your YouTube channel and every single person bought from you, that is where it makes sense to put all our effort into where the revenue is coming from. However, we all know it doesn’t quite work out like that. We put so much emphasis on the numbers as a measurement of our own self-esteem. This is what many of us chase.
When you chase more people to like your work, size becomes your benchmark. The posting matters more than the impact that you can make (subscribers and growth with your audience).
The short-term goal where scale becomes the guiding light hampers a longer-term approach where you can become a trusted source. It means you can stand away from the place where everyone else is fighting for attention. As an example, build your own audience so you can address people directly on your terms, such as email, rather than your only place with everyone else on a social platform.
Signing Up For The Long Haul
The long haul means you start with an idea that you know you can’t stop.
Mitch Joel highlighted this at a YATM Online event.
However, when you begin, most people are going to say ‘you’re not going to get far.’ It’s the insecurities that creep in. For me it was the lack of subscribers, no one paying attention, no one hearing me and no return for my efforts for the first few years with You Are The Media. This is why it is easier to play to the short terms wins and keep posting (and be accepted and liked), rather than find your way to side step the algorithm.
The long haul is where you step up to build something meaningful and you look at social media as your helping hand for distribution.
This is how it has worked for me:
💍 You build your platform (your blog, your newsletter, your podcast)
💍 You deliver (you start something you can’t put down)
💍 You earn trust (people can see you’re sticking to something you believe in)
💍 People come back (familiarity with your message means people know what’s waiting for them)
💍 You scale (you can introduce new ideas and test out new areas)
💍 You have freedom (everything you do is on your terms)
💍 You have a distribution network (social media becomes your pipeline to others)
💍 You enjoy the whole process (fun comes into play when people feel a part of something too)
Some Longer Term Places To Measure
When you go beyond the short-term search for positive feedback, what matters is something you can measure. It’s about connecting with the right people who trust enough to do something for or with you.
Here are metrics that matter to me.
Audience growth (email subscribers). It doesn’t have to be huge spikes in numbers but are you converting people who want more from you? Is your audience the right people and not everyone? Is your audience interested in what you say and do? Does your audience know they receive something from you that they can’t get elsewhere?
Conversion. For most businesses, this is what chimes. There has to be a commercial aspect through your work. How is your audience turning to sales? Are they receiving enough value that at some point then want to commit? For You Are The Media, conversion is measured from people who want to sign up and subscribe to those who want to dedicate more time through paid events and learning.
Audience engagement. For my consultancy side (We Are The Media) the sales cycle can be long. For instance, someone subscribes and feels a part of the YATM community and then when the time is right to approach to work with me (coaching, consulting, speaking) this can take years. However, it’s the constant presence and being a part of their week that helps.
Staying and being involved. If people feel a part of what you share, they will stay and business can follow. For instance, this could be people who come to your site and then regularly come back. It’s the trust built through your content that encourages involvement. For me, it feels good to see people come to their first YATM live event and then come back again. What can you do to get people to come to you and then feel comfortable to hang around?
Let’s Round Up
Real-life metrics centred on growth with the right audience supercedes short term self-esteem hits. If all you have is the now to work with, the odds will always be against you.
You are not the sum of the positive feedback you receive, you are the sum of what happens from the attention gained from people who matter.
When you put in the work, trust wins over the long haul. The people you spend the most tine with are those who joined you at a start point and the relationship grew. This is different from looking for recognition from everyone. You produce the work you want to do, with the people you want to be with. When it’s the long haul, it’s you who has the ownership over the work, the growth and the creation process.