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Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey
November 06
Publisher, CEO
The Good Men Project
Part of The Good Men Project. CEO of Good Men Media. I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public & become a part of the culture.

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MAY 16, 2012 7:57PM

“How Can I Scale?” Lessons in Social Media

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A blogged version of one of The Good Men Project Evangelist Conference calls run by Lisa Hickey

This morning, I sent out an email for our "Evangelist Conference calls" which all contributors to The Good Men Project are invited to. A reply came into my inbox:
Hi Lisa, Can I download the call afterward? Sorry, it's midnight here in Mongolia. : (
Thank you, Travis
So I decided to blog about the call. And then-- on the call, another evangelist, Mark Greene, came in and do what I couldn't have done alone. He recorded the call (with everyone's permission), edited it and put it on SoundCloud. The live version of the call can, in fact, be heard at the end of the article.


One of the ongoing things I talk about is scalability. We are each but one person. We only have one life to live. There are only 24 hours in a day. There’s never enough time. The way to get past any of those is to understand the idea of scalability. If you take one action and you get one result – and you think that you are the only person in the world that can get that result -- that’s not scalable. On the other hand, if you take one action and you get 1,000 results – that’s scalable. If you stop believing that you are the only person in the world that can get a certain result – but instead look around for people who can help you because they get a benefit from helping – that’s scalable. One of the things I’ve learned from Social Media is that things that work for individuals can work for groups of 4 million people – I just have to keep figuring out how to get them to scale. And as we’re growing this media company, I’ve also found that things that work for 4 million people also work for me as an individual – I just have to figure out how to customize the learning and adapt it to my life as an individual. Part of what I do on these conference calls is to try to get you to make those leaps back and forth – how a single result can scale up to get millions results, how what works for millions of people can also work for you as an individual.


There’s a reason that this idea of scalability is SO much easier today than it ever was before – it’s because of networks like Twitter. Say what you will about Twitter – an I know that there are Twitter naysayers out there -- but what DOES work about it is this: 1) It’s an individual communication device (you can talk one-on-one with a single person – and that single person can be someone you’ve never met.) 2) It’s a broadcasting device – meaning that if you have 10,000 followers, you can broadcast out a single message to 10,000 people. That's what makes it a game-changer. Even though other communication devices are working towards that, they are not quite there yet. Take the phone call, for example. It used to be a one-on-one communication device – you either got on the phone with a single person, or had conference calls which involved special phones and special technology and secret codes. Now the telephone is becoming more scalable – I can conference people in on my iPhone in about 12 seconds, conference calls with dozens of people from all over the world are a piece of cake. But a phone is still not a broadcasting device. That is, I can’t get on a phone and use it as a megaphone. I can have people call in to hear a conversation, but I can’t get it out to a wider audience. Thanks to a few tricks of technology we can now do that – in this case, the call was recorded, put on SoundCloud, I grabbed the embed code and put it in this post, and emailed the link to Travis Hellstrom in Mongolia. Travis can even ask questions back – to a wide audience – by posting a question in the blog comments. Poof. We’ve made a simple phone conversation scalable. So now, look things like TV shows – which were in the past ONLY broadcasting events. A million people could watch a TV show, but those million people were silos. There was no interconnectivity back and forth. I’m certain that will change soon going to figure out a way to become more social – for example, if you’re watching a TV show all your facebook friends who are also watching that same show appear on the screen. You can see reactions of your friends in real time to the very thing you are experiencing. After all, that’s what friends are for, right? Something that has scaled really big in the past comes down to the level of a one-on-one conversation.


What do these changes in technology and communication have to do with YOU as an individual? -- Anyone can scale up and down. The best way to get more time do the things you want in life is to ask yourself how you, as an individual, can scale. -- Any single person can have both an individual conversation with people and also have a conversation with 1 million people. Anyone. When I advise people to create their own network that’s why. A network gives you scale. How big a network? I’ve talked before that a network of 10,000 people gives you scale. At 10,000, you have something of value. Building a network also gives you the exact same thing that Twitter offers – 1 to 1 conversations with people that you want to have individual conversations with, and a platform where you can broadcast your ideas to large numbers of people. At 10,000 combined people in your network, you become your own media company.


When I was first getting started in social media, it didn’t seem as if a network of 10,000 could be that valuable. In fact, on Twitter, the first thing that happened when I reached 10,000 followers was that random strangers would ask me to ReTweet things I saw no value in. And my first reaction was, “UGH!! I’m not going to retweet YOUR spammy stuff. Go build your own platform!” And I’d try to swat them away like mosquitoes. Not helpful. But what I soon realized – especially as more and more people asked me to do promote their stuff to my people – was that it was actually the sign of something that I could leverage. I had something that other people wanted. I had a network of 10,000 people. Unbeknownst to me, the network itself had value. And guess what happens the minute you have something of value? You can negotiate with that thing. That’s another reason for building a network of 10,000 people. Sure, there might be value for some people to say, “my network is bigger than your network”. But the real value is in figuring out ways to use that network for greater good with other people that share your values. The best way to leverage social media to get the individual results you want is to be helpful. And with a network of 10,000 people it’s a lot easier to be helpful. You’ve taken your helpfulness, and you’ve scaled it.


Here’s a concrete example of how, in my early days, I negotiated with “social currency” instead of money to get things I dearly wanted. In my past life, I was not a geek. Technology was half a mystery, half scary. But at one point I realized technology was it. Understanding -- embracing technology was a do or die situation. I needed to step up my technology skills big-time to survive in this world. And the more I learned, the hungrier I was to learn how it worked. So what did I do? I traded the value of my network for individuals who could teach me about technology. I gave what I knew away, knowledge was returned to me immediately. Guy Kawasaki taught me how to use Tweetdeck – publicly – in front of all my Twitter followers. Chris Brogan helped me figure out a Social Media strategic plan and how social systems connect with blog systems because I was a frequent commenter on his blog. I got people at tech companies to show me html, and embed codes, and video-making and file sharing. I got a ton of people -- a whole team of strangers -- to show me how to start my own blog. I got some of the best blog commenters around to tell me how to be a better blog commenter. And I did that by saying to them – “Hey, I don’t have money. But I have a network that I want to use for the greater good. Here's what I can give you in return. (Sometimes it was not much at all). Can you help?” And 90% of the time they did. Start by being helpful to them. Start by having a network that is worth something.


And what’s an example of how that becomes scalable? Yesterday at midnight, I was exhausted. Loooong day, hadn’t scaled. And I got on social media with the mindset I always do – “How can I do some promotion in a way that’s fun and interesting to me and will get results greater than anything I could imagine?” PS – that alone is a really good strategy. Try it. Let me repeat it. “How can I do some promotion in a way that’s fun and interesting to me and will get results far greater than anything I could imagine?” And so I got on Pinterest, because that’s full of bright and shiny cool stuff and at midnight that was all my brain could handle. And I noticed Tom Matlack and I had "re-pinned" the same story, of a blind teenager who made an amazing film. And I noticed that someone else had re-pinned that story. And I followed that guy to Twitter, because you can’t really talk on Pinterest. And I RT-‘d his RT of that same story on Twitter. And he sent me a tweet that says:
Lee Crockford @lisahickey I LOVE what you do!! BTW - one of the projects that I'm involved with might interest you:
Which – as I mentioned before – in the “old days” would have been seen by me as “Oh no, what does he want? Surely his Project isn’t as good as my Project.” I would have assumed he didn't have anything of value. Luckily those days are gone. Instead, I eagerly clicked on his link to see what he was doing and…sure enough, his project is amazing--one that is making an effort to solve the problem of male suicide in Australia. Not only solving the problem of male suicide – but doing it by getting men to talk about stuff they don’t usually talk about – hey! That’s what we’re doing. The connection was astounding, and profound, and within hours we had not only connected and formed a partnership but he was up on our website and officially became an evangelist. So the lessons here are: -- Build a platform to at least 10,000 -- Find out what you have that the other person wants and what the other person has that you want. --You can negotiate deals all day long -- Understand the concept of scalability. Don’t think to yourself, “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” Instead think, “How can I scale?”

-- photo: centralasian / flickr
 This post first appeared on The Good Men Project. 

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