12 Ways To Move The Social Media Conversation Past The Converted

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If we’re all trying to get more people to read Blogs and listen to Podcasts, but our core audience is fellow Bloggers and Podcasters, how do we ever get this content out to the mainstream and bust the echo chamber effect (aka the fishbowl)? Can these media channels evolve if all we’re really doing is "preaching to the converted" or talking to one another?

This was the question offered up by Sarah Robbins (aka Intellagirl) in a Podcast and she directed it to Joseph Jaffe of Jaffe Juice and crayon (also author of Life After The 30-Second Spot and Join The Conversation), C.C. Chapman of Managing The Gray, Accident Hash and The Advance Guard, and myself over on her Podcast, UberNoggin, in the posting titled, Podcast And Challenge: How do we move the social media conversation past the converted?

My initial response (which was posted in her comments section) was:

"…we talk about how social media is so powerful, but to break the fishbowl, it’s clear that we need to leverage traditional media to get the word out to the masses who are not ‘listening.’ In doing so, aren’t we then disproving our theories – that people who want this information will find it on their own? I know… I know… this is what makes it ‘interesting times.’"

Just this morning, I was cruising into work listening to episode #106 of Jaffe’s excellent Podcast, Jaffe Juice, and he played and responded to Sarah’s Podcast. I see that C.C. also responded in an episode of Managing The Gray titled, The Intellagirl Challenge. Instead of adding more audio, I thought I would hit this old school style, and Blog my thoughts.

I think there are tons of ways to get new people reading Blogs, listening to Podcasts and participating in the many fascinating online conversations. Here’s a list of twelve (in no particular order):

1. Write articles in traditional print publications – from your local paper to industry publications, to national magazines and beyond. Show people what you’re all about, and then let them know that you ramble on like this daily (and include a link to your Blog). It might also be wise to let them know that although they can’t directly comment in the printed form, they’re more than welcome to add their voice on the Blog.

2. Get interviewed – this Six Pixels of Separation Blog and Podcast has brought with it tons of media opportunities. When the Journalists ask for your full details (name, title, company, etc…) make sure to request that they link to your Blog. They won’t always do it, but I find that – more often than not – they think it’s pretty cool (and it happens).

3. Use all forms of traditional media – if it’s not print, there’s also radio and television. The mass media channels are starved for fresh content and hungry for new perspectives. Follow the types of stories they’re covering and contact them if you see a fit. You never know unless you ask.

4. Speak – while I know that most people fear public speaking, it is one of the best opportunities to get your message "out there." Whether it’s for a local University, the Toastmasters, an industry event, unconference, lunch and learn, or in front of thousands of people. Education is key to breaking the fishbowl and speaking is a great way to start educating the general mass public as to what new media channels exist and how they can take advantage of them.

5. Teach – go to your local University and ask the Marketing, Communications, Advertising and Public Relations professors if you can come into one of their classes and do a guest presentation of New Media, Social Media and Web 2.0. If the reaction is anything like the one I get when I offer this up, you’ll be getting new people to check out Blogs and Podcasts faster than you can say "RSS." More often than not, Educators are not up-to-speed on the latest channels and, if they are, they still welcome a new, fresh face to connect with their students. There’s a great strategic by-product to teaching – you’re also empowering young people to understand the many interesting career opportunities that Digital Marketing offers. For more insight into why I am so passionate about this, please check out this Blog posting: Marketers – I Believe The Children Are Not Our Future.

6. Get involved in your industry associations and organizations – it’s no surprise if you’ve been following me for a while that I spend a chunk of time involved in organizations like the Canadian Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada and the National Advertising Benevolent Society. Not only does it feel good to contribute to the growth of my industry, there are tons of opportunities to introduce our digital channels to fellow members and interested parties.

7. Other industry associations – trying to break into the automotive or telecommunications industry for some new clients? Take the opportunity to leverage that work and let people get a taste for all this Blogging goodness. Don’t hoard it all for your industry 😉

8. Charitable organizations – spending time giving for the sheer pleasure of helping those in need, also tends to lead to discussions about what industries we serve. I find that all of my philanthropic involvement always leads to discussions about Blogs, Podcasts, etc… it’s another great channel and place to meet and show people from various backgrounds and industries all of these fascinating new tools.

9. Conference and Meet-ups – it’s more than likely that people know about these channels if you’re all attending the same conferences and meet-ups, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many new people I meet who have not connected to the technology. It could be at a Chamber of Commerce event or a Vernissage. Not every meet-up is a Geek Dinner or BarCamp. Just the other week, I was speaking on the same stage as Seth Godin at an industry specific conference and, although people had heard about Seth and read his books, there was a huge majority that had never seen him speak live before. New markets and groups are everywhere.

10. Search Engines – It may be a little techie and seem out of place in a Blog posting about leveraging everything but these digital channels to grow the space, but Search has become ubiquitous. I recently saw a survey that said over 80% of Internet users use Search frequently. People are constantly looking for sources, information and content. Well structured headlines, good keyword writing and some link love goes a long way to getting your Blog postings at the top of the Search Engine results page. Most people don’t know (or care) if it’s a Blog or Website, as long as the content is relevant to them. Work the Search Engines.

11. Non-Social Media tools – old school online forums, Websites, etc… are good too. I’d even lump LinkedIn in here. It’s definitely a Social Network – but a little more closed/permission driven. I would guess that a good chunk of LinkedIn users are not big into Blogs and Podcasts, so you could (in theory) use that channel to bring them into the fold.

12. Guerilla Marketing – I’m thinking about how Mark Blevis promotes his kids book review Podcast, Just One More Book!, by printing up bookmarks and dumping them into books at local retail chains (I love this tactic). You could also print up business cards that are more like mini-ads for your Blog or Podcast. I’m also a big fan of ripping a bunch of episodes of a Podcast to a CD and giving them out at tradeshows, etc…

My guess is that this community can come up with many ways to build traffic by bringing new people into these digital channels. That being said, a hearty thanks to Intellagirl for inspiring me to think about it.


  1. Is Number 12 the mystery secret?
    I’ll add #12 for you: Maintain a rock solid contact database of everyone you meet, whether at a bar, at a conference, or just in passing. You never know who you’ll run into, and it pays to carry business cards with you at all times, with your relevant URLs on them. Make sure you maintain your database – send out quick birthday emails or other appropriate messages to stay in touch, and of course always make sure the URLs of your new media outlets are at the bottom in your signature. That’s some of the best, most untapped advertising space there is.
    Well, that and blog comments.
    Christopher S. Penn | [email protected]
    The Blog: http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com
    The Speaker: http://www.AwakenYourSuperhero.com
    Marketing Podcast: http://www.MarketingOverCoffee.com

  2. lol.
    Thanks for pointing that out Ninja. I adjusted the title and numbering. Originally, I had a couple more, but in editing the post, I switched stuff around.
    Ahhh, the joys of instant personal publishing.
    You’re spot on about the database – so maybe we can all count that as the “mystery number.”

  3. Mitch:
    Insightful commentary as always. I think that in order to “take it to the masses” blogs/podcasts and the content they house need to become a product of sorts.
    Where now, many companies treat them as “add ons” or tools to reach the converted, to spread the word it’s important to promote a blog or podcast the way someone would promote their latest widget.
    Yes, it will take some “traditional” media, but I think if people follow the tactics you outline, promoting quality content, it will spread.

  4. For me it really comes down to creativity, if you can conjure up enough ideas to market your blog, you have got it made. There is no one specific way to market yourself, but social media does provide a great means to do so. I have been fortunate enough to make money online through blogging for a while now, but it wasn’t easy. I have used every method ever discussed to see how it works, if at all, and what I have found that the diverse combination of marketing is the only thing that works really well. Excellent post though, you got me thinking with that one.

  5. Some really good pointers, and some that I wouldn’t have thought of as a way to promote social media.
    I think what a lot of marketers forget when dealing with social media (which sounds silly when you look at the name) is that it is, first and foremost – Social. It’s about interacting with your client base, finding out where they are, what they do, what they want – and giving it to them. It only stands to reason then that if the core of your client base is not into social media – you have to go offline to get them interacting.
    Thanks for a really helpful post.

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