Last last week I conducted a little experiment. I was curious about expanding the audience for my written work about marketing in the Huffington Post. I usually publish to the business section, targeting an entrepreneur audience. However, this past week I did a personal branding piece and went on a bit of a rant about grammar, and how your written word in private and public forums is a reflection of your personal brand. I targeted millenials as the largest offenders in my piece. Admittedly it was a well-articulated rant, and a bit of a poke with a stick into the hive of 20-somethings. But here’s the key. With some trepidation, I deliberately left a grammar error in the article. I was hopeful that the editors at Huff Post would miss it – and they did. And so to press it went, fully exposed and vulnerable to criticism, with a piece about using good grammar, when I knew there was a mistake within it.
What I was counting on was a new audience sharing it, commenting, and being confident that eventually someone would find the mistake, out me on it, and the sharing would then accelerate even further.
I had my fingers crossed that a 20 – something would be the one to find the error, and not one of my older, word-wise editing type colleagues. It went live on Huff Post Living section on Monday and generated considerable likes, share and lively discussion. And then on Wednesday, it exploded. A young gal in high school criticized me about using “poll” instead of “pole” in one sentence. Her millennial friends immediately pounced on board too, vindicated and adding to the discussion. Admittedly it was uncomfortable for a while, but I let it roll along before responding about the social experiment that had gone down, and then asked her if I might hire her! I have a number of clients who could use a good writer and proofer, and I was quite serious about connecting her to the opportunity.
If you’re curious to read the piece, “You’re being judged, you just don’t know it” – here’s the link. The grammatical error has since been revised however.
So what was at play here?
- Exposure to a new section of Huff Post and by default a new audience interesting in personal branding.
- Exposure of the Facebook post, Huffington Post article, my website and blog to a new audience.
- But here’s the kicker: measureable spiked traffic to my “owned media platform”(website and blog), plus increased enewsletter sign ups, where I then get permission to engage one on one in the future. Experience has taught me that future business is generated from those that I engage with and share useful information on a regular basis. We buy from those that we know, like and trust.
My point with all this is – sometimes we need to shake things up and do something different to grow our businesses. And sometimes we need to take a risk, or become vulnerable. I’d love to hear about what risk you have taken that paid off for your business.