Using Platforms Properly

Regardless of how big the platform, without self promotion, no one is going to stop check you out

I had a great experience working for a startup called Cove. I joined the term early to support their operations as they scaled to provide co-working spaces around Washington DC. Cove was a great new way of approaching the co-working model that had become sexy with the rise of WeWork.

Despite the fact that Cove was providing this sexy concept, no one knew about it. Cove had great locations with a lot of foot traffic around DC but still struggled to get people to notice. Only through shameless self promotion were we able to push and pull people in to check out our locations.

We called it street teaming. You know the crazy people that stand on street corners with clipboards and try to get you to sign up for something you dont want? That was us.

“HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT COVE?!”

Through sheer effort we were able to get people to stop and listen to our elevator pitch. At first I thought this concept was insane. What a poor use of our time right?

Wrong.

Being flashy and engaging with people in the community forces them to pay attention. Maybe 99 out of 100 wont have any interest but that 1 person makes a difference. They are the first node in jump starting the network effects that are required to build a community.

It took consistency. Standing on the street corner day in and day out. I had many conversations with people that stopped and said ” you know I’ve seen you all out here a bunch and have no idea what you do. I’m curious and want to know”.

I’ve been thinking about this experience at Cove a lot lately. Especially as I work to jumpstart my publication on Medium. I picked Medium as a platform because it had the type of “foot traffic” that I was looking for. But like Cove, just because I have a storefront doesn’t mean anyone is going to stop in and check it out.

My realization is that my process lacks the shameless self promotion that I need to drive my first power users to the site. I have no daily process to push and pull users. No consistency to be noticed beyond my regular publications and hoping and praying for curation by Medium Editors. This is frustrating because it runs contrary to my fundamental goals of prototyping.

Control what you can control and don’t worry about what you cant.

I cannot control whether or not a particular essay is curated by Medium. Regardless of how important curation seems to building an audience, once I publish, it’s essential to move on to tactics of self promotion.

I’ve encounted two authors and thought leaders that I admire who practice self promotion effectively. The first is Anne-Laure Le Cunff at Ness Labs. She effectively wrote for 100 days uninterupted which was both inspiring but tactically informative. She provides a necassary framework for shameless self promotion.

The second individual that I’ve come to admire is Daniel Vassallo, author of The Good Parts of AWS. He effectively uses a multitiered approach to promoting his work and himself. His tactics are effective and he willingly shares how to replicate them which I’ve found to be enlightening.

These two people have shown that intentional and consistent action pays off. Over the span of a few months to a year they were able to greatly expand their audiences using similar self promotion tactics. Like Cove, they went out into the world and said, “Have you heard about Cove” in their own ways. And it worked.

The takeaway has been that I simply must build a strategy of self promotion and execute on it daily. If I don’t promote myself, no one else should be expected to. I will start putting together a framework to implement next week which I will share on this blog.

More to follow.

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