Part Three – How to Build a Platform

Chris Marlow —  June 30, 2013 — 1 Comment

Platform

This is Part Three in the, “Why You Need a Platform” series. Read Part One or Part Two. 

If you have a story worth telling, then you have a platform worth building. So, do you have a story? Maybe you are coming around to the notion that you need a platform if you want that story to go viral or to gain a community of people who become fans. So, where do you begin?

Think Problem Solving

We’re all trying to solve problems. Some are massive like global poverty or world peace. Others are not quite that big, but they are still important. Think about the various apps you use and how vital they are to your life. For instance, I love Evernote; the Evernote team solved a huge problem for me and millions of others and I’m thankful for them. I’m a fan.

What problem are you solving? If you can’t answer that question, then you don’t have a story worth telling — yet!

  • My wife is hairstylist; she solves problems all day long. She makes people feel and look better.
  • I use Basecamp everyday with my team at Help One Now, as we are scattered across the world. 37 Signals solved our “how do we collaborate and stay organized” problem.
  • My friend David created an app called REACH. We raise money through simple campaigns. REACH helped us solve a problem and empower our tribe to be storyteller and fundraisers.
  • My friend Charles started a conference called The Idea Camp. I’ve had the privilege of co-leading two of them. This conference adds a lot of value to a tribe of people.
  • My friends at Lemonade International are solving problems of extreme poverty in Guatemala. They have an amazing story. Imagine if none of us knew about them?

They all have a few things in common: they add value to people, they need to sustain their organization and they need fans in order for them to succeed — they all need a platform because they already have a story worth sharing.

Nuts and Bolts for Building a Platform

Real Life Relationships: A legitimate platform always starts with building meaningful relationships. A fan is really just a person who is rooting for you to succeed and they are willing to help you along the way. Fans are the lifeline to your dream becoming real. But, if you want people to care about your story, you also have to care about their story too. The human element cannot be overstated. People engage because they trust and when you break that trust, they disengage quickly.

Ask Facebook, Twitter and Instagram what happened when they decided to change privacy issues or Netflix when they decided to switch how we use their service. Their fans lost trust in their services.

Here’s the thing about building a platform — you never have to become that “sleazy salesperson” when you’re adding value. When you care about your fans, your fans will care about you. So, be real, authentic, transparent and approachable.

Social Media: Websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email lists … we could go on and on. Here’s what so amazing about the new social world we live – you don’t have to wait to be chosen. No longer do you have to stand in line and hope somebody says yes to you. This alone has changed everything. We are no longer controlled by the middle man and if you have a platform and you prove that your work is succeeding, then the middleman (literary agent, book publisher, investor, etc) will come to you, asking for your business.

  • Want to be a writer? Start a blog, create art and fans will follow you — if you are good!
  • Want to be a singer? Start a YouTube channel and sing to the world.
  • Love fashion? Start an Etsy account and sell your work online.
  • Want to be an entrepreneur? You do not have to wait for capital. You can build a platform and ask a tribe to get behind you by launching a Kickstarter campaign.

Social Takes Work

There are countless ways to engage, but you must realize that all social media and platform building takes a lot of work. Here are some keys:

Longevity is important. People come and go, proclaiming all sorts of things. They’re going to be a writer, a world changer, an artist and entrepreneur – and then they disappear, usually into a world of excuses. They simply did not count the cost. But for those who endure, they’re the ones that gain trust, respect and influence.

Average work gets left behind. This is what separates those who succeed online and those who do not. Perhaps it’s not fair, but life is never fair. You no longer have to wait to be picked, but that does not mean you can produce half-hearted work. You have to break through the noise with powerful storytelling, creativity and consistency.

Trust me, before you succeed, you will have to conquer plenty of doubts and fears along the way. I guarantee you that you will want to quit before you break through — DON”T.

Act like A Pro

Master how to use and leverage the tools you need. Start with one or two and then scale. Building a platform is a necessary aspect of operating a business; feel free to put some funds into your social presence. You may need to hire some experts, attend a conference, find a mentor. Just do it; don’t make excuses.

Remember, if you have a story worth telling, then you have a platform worth building. So, go out and build that platform and let your art and passion become a gift to the world.

In part four, we will work through the dark side of platform building and social media.

Thank you for reading, and if you enjoyed this post, do me a favor and share it.

Chris Marlow

Posts Twitter Facebook

About The Author I'm the Founder/CEO of Help One Now. I live in downtown Raleigh with my family. I'm a justice advocate, who loves empowering leaders (and tribes) to launch movements for doing good. Would love to connect on Twitter or Facebook. Check out my monthly newsletter. Sign up to receive my blog posts via e-mail.