During my 14 months on Twitter, I have learned much more about life than I have in 4 years of university. Every day people asked me about how I got so many followers, to be honest I am not the best person to answer that question because I do not really care much about that number anymore. I have been a very competitive person all my life. If I am not the best, I feel like I have not tried my best. My parents taught me to look up to the people who are better than me. Never be to happy if you achieve something because it is the start of a new journey to conquer a bigger goal. If you had worked with me at my nonprofit a few years ago, you would have to hear this every single day “There is nothing impossible, we have to be the best or you should not be here.” A year ago my formal assistant and I had a talk, he told me “CamMi when I was working for you, I hated you. You have always pushed me so hard. But I have to admit I learned so much from it. If you did not push me like that I would never reach my full potential. Thank you.” In real life, I am more like the ruthless and cynical Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada than an angel. If I push my staffs very hard, I would push myself even harder. When I started Twitter I set a goal, in a year I have to be one of the Twitter elites. I have never been the smartest one, but I work very hard to get what I want. And of course I became an elite in less than a year.
It took me a lot of time and effort to get to the position I have today. I have always been here, listened and supported thousand of people. One thing I learned is a good heart is not good enough to help you climbing up a ladder, you need a great mind too. Like I said in my previous post, you should invest in people but you have to invest the right way. There is no better way to learn something than learn directly from the best people. I spent a lot of time stalking Twitter Elites [ popular but not celebrities Twitter users] like @anntran_ @askaaronlee @Iconic88, @ruhanirabin, @Minervity, @2morrowknight, @ThomasMarzano , @pramitjnathan , @mayhemstudios, and many more. I am very lucky because today I can call Ann, Aaron, Mahei, Ruhani, Richard, Sean, Thomas, Pramit and Calvin my friends. One thing they all have in common is:
And of course I invested a lot of time learning how to create good contents and retweetable tweets. Believe me I was good at it. If you want me to explain about how I did it, please let me know in the comment. Every week I spent hours and hours finding and scheduling good articles and quotes to share with my community. I retweeted many elites and they reshared my content too. That helped me gain a lot of popularity. Any time I respond to my mentions and send thank you tweets to all those that retweeted, I would get into Twitter jail. From nobody I gained a lot of followers. Today I have more followers than some of the people I used to stalk. But something was missing, I achieved my goal half a year earlier than my deadline but it did not feel good. If content is king, what is missing?
One day in April this year, I had a chat with Martin Bryk [ @martinbryk] about personal branding. I told Martin that I am adding a lot of value into people lives but I am forgettable. My relationship with my followers is no strings attached. People love me and my content. But if tomorrow I die, they wont miss me. I built a brand with high reach but pretty much no influence because there are thousand of people out there tweeting good content like me. My community came to me because they want information but we don’t have a serious relationship. My content was bland and people cannot see @cammipham in it. There is a lot of good content out there, but there is one and only one CamMi. Nothing will make my brand more unique than a cammilicious experience.
“Content is king, but experience is priceless”
The price of building an unique experience is high. The first problem is we are living in an instant information age. Nobody really reads, everybody skims. Personal experience is not something people can read every other word and still understand. People do not have time nor want to relate with you. Promoting a personal experience, I might not gain any followers – in fact, I am more likely to lose them. Secondly, personal experience is not retweetfriendly. It is not one tweet, two tweets, it is a story. You have to follow it closely in order to understand. It is not something my friend can retweet because without the rest of the story it makes no sense. But I didn’t care at all. I started tweeting about my life more. I show people where I stand. I added thought to the link I share.
I am not as popular as I used to be compare to half a year ago. I do not as much as retweets or mentions like I used to get, but I gained something much more valuable at the end: relationships. It takes a longer time to build relationships than popularity but it gives a better return. People have to read my tweets now and they can relate to me more. People know that I am a crazy Asian girl with a big heart who loves shoes [ yes, I will work for shoes]. I am no longer just a popular kid in Twitville, I am a girl with a unique personality who stands up for what she believes in. My community can connect with me more, they are no longer just my follower. These people became my friends, some of my most loyal fans. If they want cammilicious content, they have to come back to me because they cannot find anywhere else. I might not gain a lot of followers but I have a small and strong community. At the end of the day number does not matter, the only thing matters is the quality of your community.
Content is important but it is not everything. Unique experiences help you connecting with your community better. It helps building a strong relationship. For example, Google+ is very new now. Its 40 million users does not even compare to the 800 million people are on Facebook, but you have to admit that Google Pluser’s are very loyal and truly in love with the platform. Almost every Web celebrities are in love with it. Brian Clark loves it. Robert Scoble loves it. Chris Brogan loves it.
Google does not just build a new social network, it builds a hope. Google+ is amazing because it is not trying to become the new Facebook, it does not have to. It is new, fresh and full of potential, something you can only find at Google+. Google creates a new experience that you have never seen anywhere else. It is a place you can engage and have meaningful discussions with people who share similar interests. Google brings back thoughtful discussion to our instant information world. This is why I am in love with G+ and invest my time in it. It is a risky investment though – unlike money I cannot get back my time – but I believe in Google and put the future of my personal brand in its hands. Google is not just a brand to me, it is a friend who I grow up with and shares experiences together. I am on Google+ because I feel connected to the brand and the community.
You can buy popularity but you cannot buy real relationships. I have said brands should focusing more on their super fans than influencers. Give free samples to the people who actually love you and will enjoy it. They will tell the world that they love your products and not just “I used it”. Paid influencers can only offer your brand popularity if they do not believe in you. Your true fans can share to the world the experiences, the connection they have with you. Don’t just share good content or produce a good product, create an experience.
It is your turn. Do you like me sharing personal experiences or prefer just information?