"Listen to your audience."
Few sayings have become more rote in the tech world than that. Unfortunately, it's the saying -- not the practice -- that's gone mainstream.
For whatever reason, rather than listen to a few highly engaged individuals interacting with your content, marketers and startups and media companies everywhere act like the strongest signal of potential success is a large amount of people consuming something.
I think that's broken. I think the best way to understand if something will succeed is to do the harder part: Make something people want. In other words...
Look for small numbers of people reacting in big ways, then lean into it.
And by "lean into it," I mean with everything you've got.
You’ve struck gold. You've found something that actually resonates with others on a deeper emotional or intellectual level. Now the challenge becomes getting it into the hands of more people -- people like the ones who are practically screaming at you, "We love this. More, please!"
Ever since I announced I was building Unthinkable, I’ve looked for these moments. I've been so blown away that the show, with its very specific tilt (content built through craft and creativity, not cheap tricks) and highly produced stories (people who grow meaningful projects, companies, and careers being creative) has a fiercely loyal audience. It's small, yes, but people are all-in. I'm getting essay-length emails, original sentiments on social (not just the quick-and-easy headline + link type of share). Best and most surprising of all, I'm getting people asking if they can actively contribute to the project.
Um...wut? People with things going on in their lives ... investing their precious few hours here on Spaceship Earth ... for free ... creating stuff for Unthinkable.
Long way of saying: I'd be the biggest dummy ever if I didn't find a way to listen to people who feel like that.
So a few months ago, when these same, amazing people started giving me feedback on Snapchat, I thought it wise to actually, genuinely listen. Here's the deal...
Beginning towards the end of 2015, I started sharing behind-the-scenes looks at making the show — interviewing, scripting, mishaps, frustrations, all of it. And over time, I realized the power of this platform. I’m really all-in on SnapChat today as a result. It’s just such an amazing and lightweight tool for sharing insights, telling stories, and (for me anyway) generally being goofy as hell. I’m at the point now where I believe that one follower on Snapchat is more valuable than one follower anywhere else for a lot of reasons.
My eye-opening moment occurred one day when, on a whim, I decided to document my entire scripting process for an episode of Unthinkable. True to form on this great platform, the Snapchat community responded with feedback (yet another reason I love it). In this case, the feedback was all very one-note: More, please!
So for the past month or two, I’ve been creating the occasional, longer lessons through Snapchat, which I’m calling “SnapClasses.” I try to teach but also entertain, because I’m an odd duck who likes to ham it up in front of my own camera. And just in case, I downloaded some of these SnapClasses to my phone.
Today, I'm excited to begin publishing each SnapClass for everyone to access.
You'll find them on both SorryForMarketing.com and, over time, on the Unthinkable blog.
HERE'S WHAT TO EXPECT:
- Each SnapClass topic will center on one of three areas, which tend to bleed into each other: Creativity, content, and tech.
- I'll shoot for 2-3 per month, with regular, daily snap activity sharing random things I'm learning, suggested apps/books/tactics for creating great content, and plenty of sarcasm and goofy behavior. (Hey, I'm nothing if not me.)
- After some time has passed, I'll share them here. That means the best way to get these is to add me at snapchat.com/add/jayacunzo (or open Snapchat and take a picture of the snapcode at the end of this article).
- Lastly, I'll try hard to make these both nutritious and delicious. That's the foundational principle behind all my content -- the information should be worth consuming, but it should also be a delight to consume. (Lots of business content likes to over-index on nutritious, but they neglect the experience of actually interacting with it. I'll try to keep it entertaining!)
IMPORTANT SNAPCHAT REMINDER: Most content isn't sent directly to you (the area when you swipe left). Instead, swipe left/move right from the initial home page/camera view, and you'll find people's stories. These are available for 24 hours, viewable as many times as you like for that period.
Whatever the case, whether it’s me with SnapClasses or you with some other project, we need to actually listen to our audiences. This isn't about simply monitoring and tracking them, nor is it about your most-viewed or most-shared stuff. It's about depth, not breadth. Start by finding small numbers of people reacting in big ways. Few things are more rare in today's distracted world, and nothing is a stronger signal that you should invest more time and energy into that project.
See you on Snapchat!
SnapClass #1: Harvard Lecture - Consumer Attention Causing Snapchat's Rise, Twitter's Scuffles
In my first SnapClass, I used some of the bigger points from my presentation to a Harvard class on consumer attention, SnapChat, Twitter, and some other emerging trends or mediums we're watching at NextView and I'm playing with through Unthinkable.
Let me know what you think! More coming soon (with a lot more experiments inside the classes too). Hope you find this useful!