Do You Have a Personal Platform Plan for 2013?

A young man once asked a wise old woman, “When is the best time to plant an oak tree?” She answered: “Twenty years ago.” He then asked, “When is the second best time?” She answered, ”Today.”

So it is with a platform.

It would have been great if you had started five or ten years ago. But if you haven’t, 2013 is the best time ever to launch yours or take it to the next level.Why? Four reasons:

  1. You don’t need anyone’s permission. You don’t need to audition, submit an application, or wait for approval. You are in control of your own success.
  2. The technology is easier to use than ever. Whether you want to write a blog, launch a podcast, or create your own video channel, the hardware and software make it simple to get started.
  3. The pioneers have mapped the trail. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. You can build on the experience of others. Start with my book or Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s.
  4. The cost is minimal. In most cases, you can get started for free or for a few dollars a month. The biggest investment will be your time. But even then, you can maximize your efficiency with the current tools available.

What you need more than anything is a Personal Platform Plan. Here’s how you can go about creating one.

  1. Define your key platform components. In my book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, I provide a social media framework that includes three major components:
    • Home Base: This is a place in the virtual world (or even the real one) that you own and control. It is where people can find you and connect with you and your content.

      This could include a blog, a podcast, or a video show. It could also include a retail store, a conference you host, or some other real-world location. In my case, my home base is comprised of my blog, my podcast, and my conferences.

      What is your home base? If you are just getting started, focus on one. Make it successful before you launch another. (Remember the old Chinese proverb: “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”)

    • Embassies: These are places you don’t own or control but where you have a consistent presence. These are places of outreach. The goal is to represent your home base(s) well and drive traffic back to it.

      These include places like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media networks. They might also include a syndicated television or radio show. (If you own the show, it is a home base. If you don’t own it, it is an embassy.) In my case, Twitter and Facebook are my primary embassies.

      What are your embassies? You don’t have to be everywhere; instead, you need to be strategic. Start with a few embassies and serve the people well who give you permission to speak into their lives.

    • Outposts: These are places you don’t own or control and don’t have a consistent presence. You show up infrequently. These are also places of outreach but exploration too. Like embassies, the goal is to drive traffic back to your home base.

      These could include writing guest posts or being interviewed on someone else’s podcast. They might also include traditional media appearances or even your speaking engagements. In my case, my outposts include everything I have mentioned except writing guest posts.

      What are your go-to outposts? Again, you don’t have to be involved in everything. Pick a few frontiers to explore. Use them to build your home base.

  2. Determine what happened in 2012. Now that you have identified your platform components, take some time to assess what happened this past year. If you have a blog, I’d focus on collecting the following information:
    • Traffic: How many unique visitors did you attract for the whole year? How did this compare to 2011? What was your rate of growth? (You could do this with pageviews if you prefer.)
    • Subscribers: How many new subscribers did you add for the whole year? (I include both e-mail and RSS.) How did this compare with 2011? What was your rate of growth?
    • Engagement: What were the total number of comments you received for the whole year? How did this compare to 2011? What was the rate of growth?
    • Posts: How many new posts did you write for the whole year? How did this compare to 2011? Did you post more or less?
    • Popularity: What were your top ten most popular posts for the whole year? How did this compare to 2011? Did you see any shift in the kinds of posts that were popular?

    If you have a podcast, you can focus on total downloads rather than traffic. If you have some other kind of home base, determine the appropriate metrics then analyze them.

  3. Decide what you want to have happen in 2013. This is where it starts to get fun—but only if you have a plan and decide to make something different happen this next year.

    What you really need is a set of platform action plans. These are simply one-page summaries of what you intend to do with your platform components. Mine include four elements:

    • Goal: Informed by what happened this year, set your goal for next. Make sure you write it down. Make it S.M.A.R.T. For example, I have a new goal for e-mail subscribers:
      Increase my e-mail subscribers by 50 percent by 12/31/2013.
    • Strategy: Once you have the goal, determine your strategy. This is how you will accomplish your goal. For example, my strategy for the above goal is this:
      I will offer a new e-book as an incentive for those who sign-up.

      This is the same strategy I used to go from 2,771 e-mail subscribers to more than 70,000.

    • Rationale: This is where you answer the question, Why? What is at stake in accomplishing this goal? Why is it important? For example, my rationale for the above goals is this:
      My e-mail newsletter list is the driving force of my entire platform. It allows me to connect with my biggest fans in the most intimate way possible.
    • Next Step: I don’t map our all the tasks that will be necessary to accomplish the goal. You can do this if you want; it just doesn’t work that well for me.

      Instead, I simply identify the first step necessary to move me toward my goal. (As I think of others, I will add them to the project in Nozbe, but for right now, I just focus on the next step I need to take.)

      For example, my next step with the above goal is this:

      Identify the topic I want to write about in the e-book.

      I have about five possibilities, and I need to narrow it down to the best one.

This exercise doesn’t have to take that long. You can do the whole thing in a couple of hours. Just make sure you avoid the temptation to get too complex or create too many plans.

Question: What are some of your platform goals for 2013?