If you're looking to become an expert in your field, should you forget social media entirely? No, but you might want to change your focus.
Noel Gallagher is a famous devotee (and by his own admission sometimes larcenist) of the 60s and 70s, and therefore very analogue, music. In a recent interview the sometime Oasis singer-songwriter concluded a story about his bemusement with his 15-year-old daughter’s lack of awareness of the pre-digital era with the exasperation “if it’s not on her phone it doesn’t exist."
The same could be said of many millennial entrepreneurs, who having been brought up with smartphones and tablets don’t contemplate a marketing strategy beyond social media and digital.
According to Social Media Examiner’s latest annual report, 97 percent of marketers are using social media, with 92 percent saying that social is important.
There's one further statistic from the same report that threatens to prick the ever-inflating social media balloon. The stat reveals that most solopreneurs are spending up to a chunky 10 hours a week (potentially a quarter of their work time) on social media, despite the fact that only 33 percent of them thought social media marketing was actually effective.
So, that leaves two-thirds of entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches, startup companies and artists everywhere who somehow feel compelled to stick with social media as their key marketing strategy, despite the fact that deep down they’re pretty sure it’s all a waste of time.
The Case for Becoming an Expert Elsewhere
While I for one strongly believe that social media marketing and digital marketing are two things that every business should be doing, it’s also time that those entrepreneurs who aren’t having success with social considered a pre-digital (and much less competitive) publicity solution: appearing as experts in the broadcast and print media, with the ultimate aim of becoming the media’s go-to expert for their chosen niche.
Recently, I’ve been interviewing people who are the first person a journalist calls when a story in their niche hits the news. It turns out acquiring that status has quite staggering effects on their businesses.
Take Henry Pryor, an independent estate agent who via some 500+ appearances on the BBC in the last eight years, can comfortably justify his Twitter bio of "the BBC’s favorite property expert." Although Henry is a one-man business, he has the media profile that a large company would envy. That constant publicity has translated into the kind of financial success and business credibility that new entrepreneurs fantasize about.
Henry conservatively credits at least half of his earnings have come from high-end leads who got in touch after seeing him on TV or hearing him on the radio. He can sustain a totally independent business and a very comfortable lifestyle without ever having to get his hands dirty sourcing another client for himself again.
Having interviewed the go-to-experts in travel, property, defence and small business finance, there are a few common threads of advice that you should follow if you want to own the media space for your niche.
Related Article: How Hot News Aggregators Target Niche Markets
1. You Don't Need a PR Company
To get your foot in the door initially, say or do something unusual. To get noticed by the media in the first place, it helps if you can say something that totally stands out from what everyone else is saying.
In Henry Pryor’s case, his first appearance was from a prediction he made in a self-written press release that the UK property market had peaked when every other agent was saying that it would go on rising. So if there’s a big story to which you have a contrary viewpoint to the consensus opinion, that’s a great way to approach the media.
Although some people would claim otherwise, journalists are human, too. They like it when you praise them, thank them and take them out for lunch. They are constantly on Twitter, so track them down and start tweeting them some love, then preferably try and meet them in real life. Once you do get your media opportunity, make sure you are one of a minority that says thank you, even if it’s a tweet.
3. Prove That You're Ready
Television (in particular) is expensive to produce, and its production staff, as well as the producers of big radio shows, are under big pressure to feature entertaining, as well as informed, guests.
In order to convince the producers that they’re not booking someone who will buckle under pressure, make sure you have an interview, or some relevant audio/visual content available online for producers to check out. Any track record of media performances at all (even a self-produced video) will help producers take a chance on you.
4. Prioritize the Media Over Everything Else
Journalists are extremely busy people. The nature of news and journalism is that you never know when a story is going to break and you'll need an expert to comment on that story.
Journalists love an expert who is helpful and will always drop everything to come immediately to the studio or be available on the phone. To find a new expert they can trust and who performs well is much harder work than just calling the regular guy. So once you have your foot in the door, if you prioritize the media, they will keep coming back to you time and again.
5) Say Something Unique in Each Interview
It doesn’t have to be a world exclusive, but it’s important that every time you are interviewed you come up with one interesting fact or informed point of view that doesn’t repeat what you’ve said in a previous appearance. If you keep delivering fresh and relevant information, your chances of being used again and again will be higher.