One of my favorite parts of Enchantment is where Kawasaki discusses the role of the hero in the world of engagement. Now, to illustrate the point, he uses the example of the firefighters and policemen who strove to save people on 9/11. That kind of heroism is in a world of its own. But in the online world, there are tons of ways to be a hero to someone. It requires very little risk, can benefit you a great deal, and often takes a very small amount of time, too.
To understand how playing the hero online can be good for business, we need to talk about the idea, from the natural world, of imprinting.
As you may or may not know, there are a lot of species who, when first born, will attach themselves to whomever is around at the time. If a little duckling is rescued by a human, that duckling will assume that the human is its mother. For people who specialize in rescuing animals, this can be a very tricky thing, because an animal imprinting on a human can reduce its ability to function in the natural world, where it belongs.
In the online world, imprinting of a different sort happens. Let me use, well, me as an example, because I’m just darned familiar with myself. When I was still very very new to the online world, a handful of people reached out to me, supported me to unbelievable extents, and introduced me to other people. Those people include Chris Brogan, Maya Paveza, Dawn Westerberg, Suzanne Vara, Stanford Smith, Danny Garcia (@dannybuntu), and Lisa Alexander. You might be thinking, if you come here often, that you see those names cross my pages an awful lot. You’d be right. My online presence imprinted on those people because they took such good care of me when I was still a Twitter duckling. Do they have my loyalty, my admiration, and my respect? Darned right.
What does this have to do with being a hero?
When you are new and flustered in this online world, anyone who reaches a hand out to you feels like a hero. The smallest act of support means worlds to you. You retweeted my post even though the most comments I’ve ever received is 1? Are you kidding? People who support you when you can’t seem to get traction online seem particularly special. They seem like knights in shining armor. I personally will never forget my heroes and why I feel they are heroes. Do you have heroes like that? I bet you do.
Why being a hero is good for business
Let’s say you decide to tweet out a post for a new blogger and offer them some advice on the side. You develop a relationship with them. They appreciate you and feel indebted to you because you impacted them so positively at a time when it was hard to get replies or comments. Now, let’s say a couple of months later you announce that you have an e-book that you are selling. Do you think that person will buy from you, or at the very least help you promote that effort? If they are a fairly typical human being, you’re darned right they will. They want to pay you back for that generous act of time and effort you gave them. They imprinted on you. They’re glad to help.
If you sell a service that this person you helped is looking at, and they are comparing your prices with those of another person, who do you think they will choose? You already spent time and effort helping them out when you had nothing on the line. They would be led to assume that you would be there and available if they had a question or concern about your service, and they are likely to feel inclined to throw some business your way.
If someone needs a product or service that they know you sell, are they more likely to go with a person they call out of the phonebook, or are they more likely to go with that person who they’ve been waiting to pay back for that act of generosity?
I’ve got my guesses. How about you?
How to be a hero
So this all sounds pretty good, right? You’re probably wondering at this point how much you have to do to achieve this status level of online hero, thus receiving all of the potential benefits (in addition to general good feeling). Here are some things that my heroes did for me when I was new. I try to pay these acts forward now that I’ve been around a bit.
-> Introduce a fairly new person on Twitter to people you think they would network well with
-> Consistently visit a new person’s blog post and support it if it’s good (via comments or tweets)
-> When someone asks a question, answer it
-> When someone expresses frustration about blogging or Twitter, try to help them analyze the problem
-> Help the person get to a milestone, whether it’s a number of followers on Twitter or something else
-> Mention the person on Follow Friday. Few things are lonelier when you’re new than Follow Friday
-> Highlight the person in a blog post on your site, or let them guest post on your site
If you’ve been online for awhile, these things all may seem kind of silly and unimportant. When you’re new, they are bright blasts of sunshine. They are the stuff heroes are made of.
Plus, creating joy in someone who new to the online world is just super fun, from my point of view.
So what do you think? Are you ready to be a hero for someone? Have you experienced a hero in your time online? Let’s talk about it!
This is post #29 in the Engagement Series. I surely hope that you find this helpful!
Image by Hanna Zabielska. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ven-