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In one of many conversations yesterday at Social Media Marketing World, I was asked, “How does someone new get started building a following?” While there’s no cut and dried answer that makes it easy, one of the accelerators you can use to jump start a program is to leverage a patron, an idea

What is a patron? In this context, a patron is someone who’s willing to “sponsor” your social identity into a circle of influence and trust. This can be something as simple as someone retweeting your content on a consistent basis to their audience, or something as complex as having an advisor coach you through the beginning of building your audience.

Do you need a patron? No, of course not. You can accomplish audience-building entirely on your own by combining paid social media with organic content, and leveraging all of the marketing methods that we know and love. Patrons just accelerate the process by brokering relationships and making connections faster.

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How do you find a patron? If you’re considering that avenue, look at your social graph, the people you’re connected to. Who is already talking about the things you want to talk about? Who has an audience that’s like the one you want? Who is reachable? Here’s one potential method: While social media influence scores are terrible KPIs and should never be used to measure the success of a program, they are a useful hint for the level of difficulty you might have in reaching someone.

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If you’re starting out and you’ve got a score of 1, the 1-10 bracket is probably the first group of people you can do outreach to, to build your base. As your network grows, reach up into the next bracket. For example, if your score is 15, look to reach out to people in the 20-29 bracket. Connect with them, share their stuff, provide them value first, and after you’ve established a relationship, make whatever ask you’re planning on making.

To Mark Schaefer’s recent point, no one is holding you down, but there are lots of people who can lift you up if you’re smart and targeted in your approach.


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