Breaking Through The Clutter

image credit:  today is a good day

Gathering the crowd is only the beginning

Building an audience and creating a following are just the first steps before truly amazing things happen with your ideas and communications on the web.  Once you’ve gathered a crowd and built your network, that’s when the real fun starts.  That’s when you get the chance to let your creativity shine.

Without creativity and without inspiring people to action, what good is having access to a niche group that has said “yes, I want to hear from you.”  Global, multi-directional communication is exciting and empowering, I agree.  But, the tools aren’t novel to many of us anymore – the tools themselves have moved into the background (and actually, that’s when they become most interesting).

In other words, just because you’re using them for your brand/product/website doesn’t necessarily mean your messages are suddenly going to spread.

Great ideas spread through all the web’s platforms and are remixed, discussed, shared, debated, referenced, and expanded upon.  Over the last decade or so, we have watched the web evolve to a place that quickly and efficiently spreads “sticky” ideas through society.  But the mover of these ideas is not technology, it is people.

I’m guessing that…

Your brand, blog or small business has a great story to tell.  You’d love to grow your current audience and have your ideas reach new people, and have those people tell other new people.  Just consider what you’re up against (millions of other choices), and carefully think through if what you’re doing will actually break the mold.  If your whole team isn’t behind it and everyone isn’t excited and passionate about it, you should go back to the drawing board.

An aside:  the strongest ally you can have in a world of infinite choice, and in fact the only way you can succeed long term is to have pure and raw passion behind what you’re doing.

I personally follow several hundred blogs and publications through RSS by both individuals and organizations daily.  Most other bloggers and social media users are similar.  I also follow several hundred users on Twitter, a handful of message forums, lifestreaming sites like FriendFeed, and social bookmarking sites like digg.

Actually, I view content from so many creative and intellectual people daily that if anything I am exposed to an overabundance of outstanding ideas.

What I’m getting at is there is an plethora of content put online – produced by businesses, individuals, entertainers and everyone in between.  Savvy people do use the available tools to organize and filter content so they receieve purely what is relevant to them (or is potentially relevant) – but let’s be honest, it is still a cacophony.

Ideas that stick transcend the channel

If you want to permeate the deluge of content produced daily, providing material that is purely in the same vein as your target audience is not enough.  People in each industry are exposed to “echo-chambers” of ideas in their niche daily, so merely because your content matches someone else’s thoughts guarantees nothing (and in fact probably ensures it won’t go very far if that is its only merit).

And this is where listening pays off and can give you the advantage.  Pay attention to your niche or industry closely.  Read material voraciously, know the influencers, learn the culture and study the content archetypes that actually break through the clutter.

Then, you’ll have the right tools and be armed with the correct knowledge on how to permeate the social space in a way that resonates.  Break the echo chamber in an industry and you’ll carve out a unique presence for yourself.

Knowing great content and the gist of the conversation is vital.  Taking that a step further and applying what you know to take advantage of a current wave of popularity in something is where you will have success.  Turn that success (or “hit” idea) into something that forges a relationship, and you’ll have real influence (that I hope you use for good).

Related posts from The Future Buzz

Influencing Social Media:  What Drives Digg And Reddit Users

Cultivating Culture:  A Vital Strategy For Building A Web Brand Through Social Media

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