What Is A Social Platform And Why Is It Necessary To Sell Online Courses?

A platform is  used to hold something or someone.  In this case we are metaphorically using the term to describe a place where you can take a stand (digitally that is) and shout your message to the world.  A social platform comprises of social media but also your website and blog.  Anywhere you put your message out for the world to see.

By Scott MacMillan | March 15, 2016

If you are creating an information business, new information product or service or writing a book or creating an online course you must start out with creating and publishing your social platform.  Before you can expect any sales you need your audience to know, like and trust you, and your social platform is how you digitally do that.Before you set up your social media channels you need to decide which channels are right for you. More importantly, you need to decide which channels will provide the best route to your target audience.  It’s crucial that you have done a thorough client analysis to make sure you know who your target audience is.  This analysis will tell you which social networks to set up and which ones won’t be of much use to you.  For example, a photography studio would want to setup Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.  It wouldn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time on LinkedIn since that audience is probably not hanging out there.  But a more business orientated niche would definitely want to focus on LinkedIn.  Skip this step and risk wasting a lot of time. There are many, many social media sites out there and spending some time upfront will save you time posting content to an audience that won’t resonate with your message.

Guidelines For Using Social Media Channels

Facebook – It’s a good platform when:

  • You have highly visual content
  • You want to leverage the community effect
  • You want to build trust in the minds of the users by leveraging their friends’ network’s
  • You are ready to spend on ads as recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm have made it very difficult to organically reach out to fans

Twitter – It is a good platform to:

  • Broadcast your message
  • Join on-going conversations
  • Connect with thought leaders and people that matter to you
  • Build a position for yourself

LinkedIn – Consider using it when:

  • You are a B2B company
  • You want to connect with a professional audience and establish your thought leadership within a group of homogeneously targeted audience

Google+ – Good platform to:

  • Help you with your SEO efforts
  • Participate in Google communities to connect with like-minded people

Pinterest – You can use it when:

  • Your primary target audience includes women
  • You have highly visual content to share

Instagram – You can use it when:

  • Similar to Pinterest in that it is graphical by nature
  • Fast becoming a must have social channel

These of course are just guidelines. You need to do a more thorough research and brainstorming to finalize the social media channels for your brand.

This Isn’t Your Father’s Website

Part of your social platform is your website and blog. In my opinion, it’s not that important to have an expensive and fancy website with a lot of bells and whistles. Online information businesses mostly use their website to host their blog, opt-in forms and to showcase their information products and educate people on who they are and what they do.   Throw in a few testimonials and that’s all you need. Your blog will be the location where most of your content will first be published.  There are many easy website/blog creators that are mostly drag and drop and don’t require any coding or HTML experience. I use WordPress sites myself but other good ones are Wix and Squarespace. This is an area that I suggest you don’t spend too much time with. Hire a website designer and tell them  you need a decent looking website with a blog that you can easily update with new content.  Websites can be a time suck for many small business owners. I’d much rather see you spend your time creating great content.

Content, Content and More Content

Creating content for your online information business will take up a good portion of the time you spend on your information business.  The type and quality of content you create will determine how large and strong your platform will be. The bigger and stronger your platform, the more information products you will sell. It’s that simple.  Have you ever heard the expression “It’s all about the list”? I believe that to be true; but a platform that is powerful will enable you to develop the best list of buyers who desire your products. Let’s define quality content. An online information business is all about teaching people something they didn’t know or understand. The nice thing about this type of business is we can leverage our information products to peel off small chunks of content for our readers to garner their interest in our message. For example, if your book or online course focuses on how to meditate better, you can peel off parts of your course and create small blog posts and videos about different meditation exercises.The whole idea of platform building is to create quality content and give it away freely on your blog and social media sites in the hope that people will start to know, like, and trust you enough to spend money on a more robust version of your content that is packaged in the form a book or an online course.  The peel and pull method takes advantage of the structured method we use to create a book or an online course.

What Do I Do With All This Content?

Now that you have a system to create all this content how can you possibly distribute it in a timely fashion.  That’s where automation comes in.There are plenty of content aggregation systems out there.  The two I like are Buffer and Post Planner. Both of these programs allow you to find content related to your niche and establish scheduled delivery of the content to your social media platforms. I like to add a short paragraph at the top of the post explaining why I’m sharing this content and relating it back to my message and products.  Smart use of these tools will keep all your social media channels updated with great content.  A great way to use these automated content sharing sites is to schedule your own blog posts in-between other peoples content.  This way, you will provide your audience with great content from a variety of sources including yours, which will usually have a call to action at the end to entice your audience to interact with you or do something that moves them closer to buying from you.One of my favorite tools for creating content and sharing it to my social platform is CoSchedule.  It connects to my WordPress blog and helps me organize and automate creating and sharing my content.  It allows me to write and post my article and then helps me break it up into other native formats for my various social platforms.  In Gary Vanerchucks book Jab, Jab,Jab, Right Hook he describes the concept of posting to each social media platform in its native format.  He explains that each platform has it’s own unique format that resonates with people who use that platform.  For example, a long text post in Facebook just won’t catch peoples attention.  You need an eye catching graphic post with just a small amount of text to give the post context.  Twitter used to be all about text but now looks a lot more like Facebook with graphic and video posts dominating.  The main take away is that it is no longer effective to just forward your blog post to your social media platform in it’s blog post format.  CoSchedule allows me to create new social media posts and schedule them for my social media sites.  I use Canva to create colorful graphic images that convey my message.  I bring those images into CoSchedule which automatically places a Bit.ly shortened link  in my post and schedules it to be posted.Establishing an automated way to create and publish a lot of quality content to your social platform is imperative if you want to sell anything on the internet.  The game is changing from an SEO focus to a social platform focus.  Even though its important to use your keywords in your content you’re more likely connecting to your customer’s through your social platform than any other method.  Don’t forget to continue to move your audience off of your social platform to your email list which continues to be the most effective way to entice your audience to buy from you.  Having a complete and automated system that aids you in creating and publishing your content and engaging your audience via email is the key to having a successful information product business.