“Help me get to X (a big number) of followers!”
We still see this cringey plea from researchers all the time in social. You can offer dozens of good reasons (or maybe even hundreds of thousands, if we’re measuring in grant dollars or sales) for wanting to grow your social following or email list. But the begging above just says out loud the quiet, desperate desire shared by too many experts: I need a number to validate me. Please, validate me?
I like something the consultant Jonathan Stark said recently on the podcast The Business of Authority he co-hosts with Rochelle Moulton:
Whenever I looked at my analytics, it was not for a reason that was going to help my audience….Every time I look, it’s for something selfish….These are hours of my day when I’m not adding value to anybody’s life and I’m not going to gain insights that I already have from talking to people.
How would that help my audience? That’s the first question you should ask every time you’re unsure about whether something is worth your time as a research-based public expert. In other words: The answer to “Is it worth my time?” Is “Is it worth their time? How will it help them?”
And you’ll find the answer to that question from talking to people. Not in the analytics.
Helping people (to understand, to see things differently, to try on a new frame) is why you’re a public expert, after all. And by the way: Helping them gets you to the number much faster.