My bike ride started me thinking about the importance of building social media momentum.

Here’s what I mean. My wife and I recently completed a lengthy mountain biking adventure.  At the end of the trail, there was a quaint yellow cottage offering sandwiches, ice cream and drinks. The yard in front of the establishment was brimming with bikes, so we figured it must be a popular place. It was so popular in fact that the wait was too long for a greasy hamburger and we rode away without ordering anything!

Hidden farther down the trail was another bistro. We almost passed by because there were not many bikes there. But we were hungry and decided to try it anyway. We were so glad we did!  We had a delicious gourmet sandwich served by a really funny waitress.

The moral of this story is that we were attracted to the first restaurant because it was validated by all the patrons it had. We nearly passed over second place — even though it had better “content” — because it seemed lonely.

I think this is an appropriate analogy for our presence on the social web, too, and I’m sure you already knew where I was going with this!  For example, blogs associated with lots of tweets and comments may get to a point where they’re popular just because they’re popular while worthy blogs may never get noticed unless they receive validation in the way of traffic.

So the question today is, if you have great content, how do you develop validation — social momentum — for it?

I would love to hear your ideas on this but let me start the conversation with six ideas of my own.

1) Seek folks who are naturally interested in your topic. I have a friend who just started a blog on manufacturing and industrial maintenance.  I suggested that he find related blogs on Technorati and interesting people to follow Twellow.  What?? You haven’t used Twellow? You can find Twitter users by hundreds of industry groupings here so it’s indispensable for finding fascinating people in your field!

2) Go off-road. Don’t just stick to the main roads. Potential readers of your blog can be found in many places …

  • Yahoo forums related to your professional topic
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Industry online trade magazines
  • Twitter lists
  • Blogs authored by competitors and customers.

3)  Connect. After a period of time, my friend should be able to identify some of the thought leaders in his field. Follow them, comment on their blogs, and establish your own voice to attract those already passionate about your topics. Want to see a best practice? Adam Vincenzini of our {grow} community recently involved many of his blogging thought leaders — and their readers — in one of his posts.  Awesome job.

4) Grow your potential audience. Many of the social media “purists” will tell you numbers don’t matter.  That’s hooey.  This is nothing but mis-placed false humility and they know it.  Building business connections on the social web is a numbers game. Maybe 5% of your “friends and followers” will read your blog. Of those who read, a rule of thumb is that 2% will   comment.  So if your goal is to attract more readers and more commenters, it makes sense to have the biggest base possible, right?  Now I’m NOT talking about buying lists or doing crazy things JUST for numbers. No, no, no. There is no short-cut. You need to build your audience the old-fashioned way by paying attention to people, providing great content, and being authentically helpful.  But keep building. Isn’t that what momentum, is about?

5) Ask for help. At a point when you’ve built up a relationship with these thought leaders and passionate followers, ask them for advice on your blog … perhaps even ask them for help in promoting it through tweets. If you’re providing great content, why wouldn’t they help?

6) Park a few bikes outside. As you’re slowly but steadily strengthening these meaningful, relevant connections, don’t be shy about asking your friends, co-workers and family members to tweet and comment on your blog. Park a few bikes outside, if you know what I mean. And promote your blog with customers, suppliers and business partners. Everywhere you have an email address, feature your blog address too.

What are your ideas on this subject?  How do you build social media momentum when you’re starting from zero?

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