Since November I have been getting between 20 and 40 new followers every day on a startup Social Network called Chime.in. I was one of the first prolific users of the Chime.in platform, and as the newness faded I was one of the few early adopters who continued my activity. Now I am listed as a recommended user when someone new joins, and it has given me the opportunity to grow my following on that network organically even though I’m not a Social Media superheavyweight like Robert Scoble or Gary Vaynerchuk.
The small following that I’m building on Chime.in is by no means monumental, but it’s organically generated within the Chime.in network. Chime.in is also popular among its users. The interface is great, but more importantly the community Chime.in has created is an extremely rare one; the users are genuinely nice and don’t let their opinions lead them around. I also know that Chime.in expects to allow their users to start generating a profit from the advertising that will be placed on their profiles. I would suspect that Chime.in already has relatively good usage rates for a Social startup that isn’t Google+, but I expect the number of active users to skyrocket once this feature goes public.
Chime.in has been a decent victory for me, and it’s mostly because I got in early and keep my stream at a high level of quality. I chose to dedicate a small amount of time to that network because I believe that it will ultimately succeed, and that I will benefit from a decent return on my time investment over the life of the network.
I’ve also embraced Google+, although I was a little late to the party, and my activity level didn’t compare to the users who replaced their other social presences with Google+. Amanda Blain, the creator of Girlfriend Social has been noted several times as the standout success story from Google+. She had an average following on other social networks, but decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity that was the Google+ beta. She now has over 290,000 followers on Google+ and has been covered in several articles (like this one) that list her as a model for success. Other users who were a little more popular before the Google + Beta like Robert Scoble have garnered even more influence on the network, though with slightly smaller numbers.
The reason that becoming an active early adopter works so well is because of the algorithms these social networks use to list recommended connections. Since the algorithm for recommending people to follow relies on people your contacts follow, someone with a large following in the beginning will get significantly more exposure as the network grows.
I first noticed the benefits of getting in on the ground floor while playing online video games. You can be highly skilled, but someone who has had the advantage of time will ultimately be hard to replace on a leaderboard. After I had cracked the method of ranking on the popular Mobsters game for MySpace I was at the top of the weekly leaderboards every week. Even with stats that doubled the next closest player, I was going to have to play for eight more months to overtake the all-time leaders. The algorithms that are set up to award early adopters make the disadvantage even more significant on a network like Twitter or Google+.
The benefits transcend platforms, technologies, and even technology as a whole. Think about the early adopters of Microsoft or Apple stock. They’ve become millionaires many times over because they saw something of value in the beginning before the masses flocked to the products in droves.
There is a formula to organically growing your network on a budding network. You need to interact in the places that are most visible, especially to new users. You also need to keep your stream clear of low quality or offensive content. It isn’t the best time to share your friends’ content, not unless it’s really good. Visual content is also important; it has become the go to media to create viral posts on Google+. You need to follow others quickly and build your base of followers as soon as possible.
There is also a great deal of luck required. If your followers share your content and end up becoming heavily followed users themselves it will only add to your exposure. Not all platforms are going to be the next Facebook, but one common denominator between Google+ and Twitter is that tech pundits TOLD YOU SO (and capital). Everyone knew that both of those platforms were going to thrive long before they reach 50 million users. There is no reason that someone who follows social media couldn’t have been on each platform during their first days of beta testing. Here are the most important things to do next time you feel that a network is going to go viral:
- Get in Early. Networks don’t build on top of the ground floor; they raise it and build under it.
- Focus your development on that network. At least until you overtake contemporaries.
- Curate only the choicest content. Is there a meaning? Is it new? Is it something that will resonate with your followers?
- Learn all the rules, and measure your efforts. Hangouts were a big part of Google+ networking, but games were not.
- Bring your friends from Facebook and other networks. The best place to start is on familiar ground.
- Premiere your best content there. Make your followers on the new network feel like they have a front row seat.
- Be personable. The keyword in Social Networking is Social. People actually do care about what you’re doing this weekend.
I mentioned earlier that I missed out on the beginning of Google plus. Two years ago I was laid off from my job and was forced to work low wage jobs just to pay the rent and buy groceries. I couldn’t afford to pay an Internet bill, but even I was aware of Google’s new social network. I knew I missed out on an opportunity, but by June when I started back to work I had set up a Google+ account (even though I still didn’t have a home Internet connection). I was subjected to a similar form of bad luck when Twitter opened to new users. In the run up to the beta I even applied for an Intern position with the fledgling network. I did manage to set up a Twitter account shortly after they launched, but never got the chance to take advantage of the early days when there were few limits and the early adopters were the most prolific users.
Many Social Media coaches advise against using a platform in its infancy. I always hear that no one knows what a platform is capable of, or if it will be a worthwhile investment of your time. This could be true with a platform like Chime.in or Pinterest (both are doing quite well now), but when it came to Google+ it was a no brainer. What do you have to lose anyway? These networks are free to use and it takes a minimal amount of time to establish a presence. If you’re networking on Facebook anyway, your friends will still be there when you get back, believe me. You won’t need to be a prophet to see the next big opportunity. The writing will be on the wall (Facebook walls, Twitter profiles, blogs, and news websites).
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