Staying Relevant: Adapting in the Ever-Changing World of InfluencingOct 13, 2023
The other day, I had a conversation with a colleague who is a professor at the same university I teach at. He’s also a non-profit organizational leader who works with all kind of people. He’s been serving people in both of these capacities for decades, but as you can imagine, the tools that he’s been able to utilize during those decades have certainly changed and adapted.
Because I’m the program ambassador of the Digital Media program at the university, he started asking me questions about the tools I’m using and the trends I recommend he begin paying attention to. He was also a little apologetic when he described what he was using to communicate with the members of the organization he leads because he wondered if I might think it was outdated and irrelevant.
Thankfully, what he was using was perfectly acceptable, even though the tech he relied on wasn’t particularly new or trendy.
That conversation reminded me of a temptation that I think many online influencers wrestle with. Whenever a new concept hits the market, we’re compelled to chase after it. The newest apps go from being novelties to necessities in our minds. The current social media trends invite us to jump on the bandwagon, so we make the jump because we don’t want to be left behind. We fear becoming older, irrelevant, relics of the past.
This probably shows up in a variety of ways. Last night, I took my family out to dinner to celebrate my son’s girlfriend’s birthday. While we were there, I kept pointing out the song titles and artists that were being played in the background. My kids find that a little amusing, but everyone made fun of me when a current song that was rather popular started playing and I had never heard of it. In a small way, this experience exposed the fear many entrepreneurs experience. The fear of becoming outdated or stuck in a different era of time.
If this is something that concerns you, I have some good news. The good news I’m about to share comes in two forms. The first aspect of this good news that I’ll share will hopefully calm your anxiety, and the second aspect will hopefully give you some good ideas that you can incorporate in your approach to business.
Here’s part 1…
You’re probably not as irrelevant as you fear that you might be. Trends and technology seem to change quickly, but the tools that audiences learn to rely on don’t tend to outpace the curiosities of most online entrepreneurs. What I’m saying is that you’re probably up on more tech and trends than the audience you’re trying to serve happens to be, even if you don’t feel like you’re on the cutting edge.
The other thing I’ll say about that is that some of the tried and true methods of reaching and serving your audience are still the approaches that work the best. Email is still relevant. A clean and clear website is still highly valuable. Webinars still work. Blogging remains highly effective. Podcasts are just starting to bloom. And even with all the new social media platforms that have become available, Facebook remains the platform that has retained the lion’s share of regular usage. I’m guessing you’re highly adept at using most if not all of these tools.
Now here’s part 2 if you want a simple approach to keeping up with what’s trending…
1. Stay informed in the areas that genuinely interest you, but don’t worry about the areas that don’t. There are interesting blogs, forums, and YouTube channels that you can follow that will curate the news for you. You don’t have to search for it. They’ll serve it to you on a platter.
2. Give yourself permission to adapt to platform changes and updates. This seems to be a major area of frustration for many people, but it doesn’t need to be. For example, as someone who uses Kajabi to build many aspects of my online business, I made sure to sign up for their email list. They’re always improving and refining their software so I make sure to read up on it because it’s a tool I actually use. When they release a feature that interests me and benefits the people I serve, I incorporate it. When they release features that don’t appeal to me, I ignore them until such time as it either makes my life easier or the feature gets requested by my members or my audience.
3. If you can clearly articulate the niche you’re serving, you can filter out the irrelevant chatter. You don’t have to be good at everything. You just have to be good at one thing when you’re building an online business. Some of the tools and trends that people are talking about today won’t be as relevant to the audience you’re serving, so filter it out. Don’t stress about it. Much of it won’t be sticking around that long anyway. Trends come and go. Only what’s legitimately useful tends to remain.
4. Engage with your audience. This is one of the most effective ways to stay updated and in-the-loop. You will hear about tools they’re using and the success they’re experiencing. In many respects, they will test out some of the ideas you might eventually choose to use. If you remain highly engaged with them, one of the byproducts of your engagement will be added relevance.
5. Collaborate and network with other people who do what you do. As a relational person, this is one of my favorite things to do. Attend in-person conferences and online events. When someone you admire is offering additional training, jump on board. Read their books. Engage with them via social media. Invite them to speak to your audience, and accept invitations to speak to their audiences as well. The more collaborative you are and the more you choose to network with other leaders, the fresher you will remain in your own field.
Here’s the thing, even if you start to feel like a “dinosaur” you really aren’t. I’ll tell you something that might surprise you. The people that I know who are experiencing the most success online usually have a little gray hair. It isn’t being trendy that most often leads to online success. It’s being faithful, helpful, and capable to solve real problems while connecting with real people.
If you keep chasing trends, you’ll waste a LOT of your time. But you can remain relevant without becoming a trend chaser. Use what’s been proven to work. Stay open to new ideas that also show promise. And stay focused on what your specific niche audience actually needs from you.
© John Stange, 2023
Platform Development and Monetization Tips
On Wednesday mornings, I send an email with platform development and monetization tips. If you'd like to receive it, enter your info. below.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.