We are lost in a sea of noise. It seems like every day, our online streams are more and more full. There is more noise than ever, and there seems to be less and less signal all the time. It can be pretty discouraging if you’re trying to build an online presence. Sometimes you might think, “Why bother? My voice is just going to get lost in the shuffle.” But the truth is, digital channels are one of the best ways to share your stories, tell the world about your passions and be heard. So how do you do it? Here are a few things I’ve learned.
A billion Facebook users. 200 million Twitterers. Hundreds of millions of blog posts a day. Seems pretty daunting to try and become part of that, eh? All those people make a lot of noise, it’s true. But you don’t have to try and reach them all (nor should you). My secret to getting traction online was to start small. The first time I ever went on Twitter, I went to the search page, and simply typed the name of my city, “Ottawa”. Up came dozens of people, in my own city, who were on Twitter. They were talking about the city, about life here, and the things that they cared about (and that I cared about too). I started following them, said hello. I became part of the Ottawa Twitter community first, and then grew my network from there. When I posted something new on my blog, I would share it to my Ottawa friends, and if they liked it, they’d share it too.
It’s okay to start out on social media by following people you already know. It might seem redundant at first, but you’ll soon find that people you know and are friends with in your own community are some of your biggest advocates. Talk to them, get to know them and you’ll soon be part of a conversation and a community that is relatable and vibrant, and right outside your own front door.
Share and share alike.
The content I create takes many forms. It could be a blog post, my weekly podcast, photos of my cats, songs I’ve sung, or even my lunch. My content is about whatever is interesting to me in the moment. I observe the world around me and if something catches my fancy, I share it. And because I am already connected to people who have similar interests, they sometimes find what I’m sharing interesting too.
The point is, if you don’t share things that matter to you, people won’t get to know the real you. If your Twitter stream is just a sea of retweets and links, you’ll never build a community. Be real, share the things you care about, and actually talk to people. Your entire experience will change in a heart beat. I promise.
Focus on the craft.
Do I worry about posting too much, or sharing inane things? Sure, sometimes. But I also know that for anyone who decides I tweet too much, or doesn’t like cats, or thinks I’m a lousy singer or can’t write a blog post to save my life, the unfollow button is just a click away. I don’t take it personally, and I do the same thing to others if I don’t find their stuff of value to me. The online world is a choose your own adventure game. I put things out and sometimes people like what I’ve done. Other times, they don’t. Sometimes I get noticed. Many times I don’t.
I’ve written plenty of blog posts that I have thought were epic. I poured my soul onto the page, carefully crafted the paragraphs until they were just right. I’ve posted, hoping people would find what I had to say interesting and would want to talk to me more about it. And nobody notices.
But even if something I post doesn’t get any response, I don’t let that stop me. So a blog post wasn’t a hit. Big deal! I still enjoyed the process of writing it. It allowed me to think about something in a new way. And maybe the next post will tweak more interest. Or maybe it won’t.
Stop feeling discouraged if everything you say and do online isn’t getting noticed. That’s not the point. The point is to keep working at it. Refine your craft. Learn what you can. Enjoy the process. If someone else finds it interesting too, that’s just gravy.
The fact is, the noisy online world is not going away. In fact, it may only continue to get more noisy as time goes on. But that’s why it’s so important for you to find ways to get your voice heard. That starts with finding a small community in which to develop some roots, then finding ways to share the real things you care about in all aspects of your life, and then defining and refining your craft. It won’t happen overnight, and it’s a crapton of work. But ultimately, if it’s what you want to do, it’s worth every second.