A Dozen Ways to Optimize Story-Driven Social Content: Marie Forleo and Corbett Barr [ #story12 ]

Reinvention Summit 2 is history, but I’m continuing to recap, synthesize, and expand on its 20 excellent sessions.

From a session with Marie Forleo (“My goal is to add more value to your world than you ever dreamed possible by giving you tools that you can immediately use to improve your business and life.”) and Corbett Barr (“I help people build cool stuff online”), I’m synthesizing bite-sized bits of advice about how to make the most of the social-driven social content you generate, both from a change-the-world perspective and a revenue-generation perspective.

  1. Speak and write in your own voice. Both Marie and Corbett described starting out after college in “soul-sucking” and “mind-numbing” jobs that they wanted to get out of as quickly as possible. Because Marie was so young — just 23 — when she struck out on her own, she felt she had to project her online presence in a highly professional manner. But it wasn’t her, and when she decided she had to write in own voice, she got much better results. Corbett found that the more open and honest he was, the more he connected with his audience, and the more the audience grew.
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  3. Think about how you can be of service to your audience. That’s an especially useful trick Marie says, if you’re worried about what people think of you.
  4. Use mind tricks to overcome any fear of exposing your vulnerabilities. Marie advises remembering that it’s easy to have personal conversations and share you opinions at a party or other social situation; thus “it’s not that different online.” Corbett suggests that on your way to finding your voice and telling your story in a way that can relate to multiple people, make your audience feel you’re talking one-on-one to them.
  5. Conceptualize the “avatar” of your audience. Knowing the characteristics of your ideal customer or reader will help you appropriately target your audience. What is it about that person who identifies with your business’s mission and values? Consider also, Marie says, a individual avatar for individual services or products, as well as overall avatar. And be open to a greater audience beyond the avatar you conceptualize. Corbett suggests thinking through who the ideal people are you’re trying to help. Think about their representative issues. He notes that audience feedback and comments could not be more important.
  6. Learn what resonates with the consumers of your content and what they remember you for. For Marie, it has been her painful struggle to be “multi-passionate” and juggle her many interests. They remember tidbits like the fact that she’s from New Jersey and loves hip-hop. For Corbett, a post, 33 Things I’ve Never Told You (or, How to Re-Introduce Yourself and Kick Your Watered-Down Self in the Ass), became a “rallying cry for finding your voice.” He recommends that the stories you tell to your audience need to help people and relate to the actions you want them to take to help themselves.
  7. When it comes to social media, determine where you you want to focus your energy and attention. Once you choose your vehicle — Facebook LinkedIn, Twitter, or something else, Marie says, “dominate it.” She also gives particular attention to comments on her blog.
  8. Be transparent and be nice when communicating with your audience. Transparency especially comes into play if you have team members involved in your interactions with your audience. Be sure audience members know when it’s really you communicating and when it’s a team member. Corbett notes that if you’re nice to people, good things will happen — “just being there, being a real person, and caring about the people that contact you.”
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  10. Be strategic. You have to really know your business model, Marie cautions. Not every piece of the business is about making money, but it’s still part of the strategy. For example, she doesn’t monetize her MarieTV initiative. Instead, she says, its “core driver is to make a difference.” Marie also advises giving up a bit of impulsiveness. For every project you’re considering jumping on, you have to ask yourself, for example, “What is the purpose of [this ebook]? Where does it fit into the strategy? Why am I gonna do this?” Each project needs to fit into big picture, the revenue model. Corbett suggests whittling 10 possible projects to one or or two. Part of strategy for Corbett is providing something of value. “Content is the way to demonstrate you have something of value,” he says. Indeed, for Marie, too, strategy is tied to value, and in turn to content: “You have to be clear on where you want business to go,” she says. “You have to know where you’re going so you can reverse-engineer where the content goes.”
  11. Find your mechanism for self-actualization. For some, it might be expression through social media, but for for Marie, starting a business — taking ownership, taking risks — has been the tool for self-actualization. “Starting a business is the best personal development you can find,” she observes.
  12. Get on the “No Train.” “Give an immediate ‘no’ to every new idea,” Marie exhorts (especially to women). She has published several blog posts and videos about the “no train,” the most explanatory of which is probably this one, where she writes: “When you’re on the No Train, you allow ‘no’ to be your initial response to new projects, new requests, new demands on your time.” Later, if projects fit into the strategy, they can come off the “no train.
  13. Train yourself to be a better copywriter. Content has its limits, Marie say, if you can’t write a great headline, email subject line, or tweet. Your copy should inspire your audience to take action, so use storytelling to enhance your calls to action. Marie’s favorite copywriting resources include Copyblogger and Social Triggers.
  14. Ask yourself: What, how, and why. Corbett recommends asking these three questions about your venture: What value will I help people with? How will I do that? Why should anyone care? Further, why should anyone pay attention to my blog, business vs. others. How can I be different from any others?

See also Corbett’s Start a Blog That matters and Think Traffic.