Thomas Friedman, American political commentator and author of best-selling book The World Is Flat, believes that human society can be roughly split into three stages.
1. Globalization 1.0: The Age of Countries and Government
2. Globalization 2.0: The Age of Companies
3. Globalization 3.0: The Age of Individuals
At each stage, the primary power of the world shifts. In the years leading up to Columbus, the Earth was predominantly dominated by the whims of countries and local governments; next, the world spent several hundred years essentially run by massive corporations and multinational companies; and today, we see the world increasingly powered by individuals like you and me.
What does a world powered by individuals look like?
It looks like Instagram stars and LinkedIn gurus, YouTube personalities and Pinterest super-moms. It looks like a world where individual voices are amplified, and where a single powerful emotion in one man can be felt by billions of people around the world.
We now focus on people more than on brands. Businesses are no longer just businesses — they are their founders. Models are no longer just part of agencies — they have massive personal followings, and receive the majority of bookings through direct message. Social media and related technologies have usurped power from big conglomerates and given more opportunity to the everyday man and woman. Hence, the age has shifted from one of corporations to one of people like me and you.
But not everybody is so blessed. The vast majority of people on social media and the Internet are still not powerful or famous, for the simple reason that they do not yet fully understand that they are now the commodity — not their business, company, hobby, or clothing line.
Luckily, the ability to market yourself is not god given. You can learn this power too (with a little bit of effort), and transcend to new heights in personal power and fortune.
Before you even begin marketing yourself, you need to figure out your why. Understand that, today, people follow you because of who you are, not what you do. The latter certainly influences the former, but there are significant numbers of people that do nothing inherently special yet still attract massive audiences.
You don’t need to have an exciting life to build a following. You simply need to be persistently vocal about the things that matter to you. Speak up about issues that are relevant to your life — it can be anything from what happened today at the grocery store, to what you think about the death penalty, to your views on economics.
More people than you think are a) watching, and b) agreeing with you. Even if they don’t say it outright, most of your audience is happy to see you express your opinions and (secretly) a little envious that they don’t have the courage to do so themselves.
There will, of course, be some people out there that dislike you. But the small number of people that don’t agree with you are not necessarily problems — they’re opportunities for you to show your audience your strength of character.
You should welcome haters, disagreements, people putting you down, and so on. Don’t run from them. Thrive on them. Respond to each and every one. Show your true colors, and rally your followers to help you when necessary.
Though (most times) social media takes place in the comfort of our own homes, pretend you are instead in a gladiatorial battle in the largest coliseum in the world. Your fans are all spectators on the edges of their seats. The larger the foe, the bigger the cheers will be when you take them down. This mindset will turn your haters from obstacles into opportunities.
Today’s web landscape offers dozens of platforms to prospective self-marketers. In 2020 (at the time of this writing) people commonly use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and dozens of smaller web-based apps to communicate and share their interests.
Keep in mind that the specific platform you choose is not important. What is important is that you learn the culture of each app and do your best to produce consistent, quality content that is relevant to that platform’s audience.
For example, I built a following of over 25,000 students on two smaller platforms that deal primarily with online courses: Udemy and Skillshare. Both audiences are widely different, the former being primarily interested in programming and self-growth, and the latter being significantly more creative and concerned with lifestyle. I had to cater my content to each audience and produce pictures, videos, and text that specifically aligned to what each group cared about.
This targeted strategy worked very well. People from all corners of the world now message me each day. I’ve been recognized many times from my online following — in both creepy and genuinely flattering ways — and consistently find new advantages and opportunities as a result. And deep down, knowing that hundreds of people consume my content online every day (and are impacted for the better) pushes me to greater heights and achievements in my own life.
People are engaging with me — not my business or my organizations. They want to hear what I think, and this provides me substantial influence and personal wealth. I get to generate significant cash flow through direct sales and licensing, and a major benefit is that I have a much easier time building legitimacy on other platforms as a result of my success on the first two.
Everything that I’ve talked about thus far you can do as well. The only thing stopping most of you is the fear of putting yourself out there. Of being judged by your peers, or lambasted by those that disagree with you. But please understand that’s the entire point: you want to be judged, for being judged means you’re in the public eye, and being in the public eye means that your actions matter.
If people are talking about you (for good or bad) you’re already doing something right. Keep at it. Learn how to market yourself. Make wacky videos. Insightful blog posts. Cool Tik-Toks. Whatever you do, put your heart and soul into it and make the lives of the people that are watching better.
You have an unprecedented opportunity today to make your mark on the world. A single person can now stand up to monolithic corporations, despotic governments, and a torrent of hatred — all from the comfort of your cell phone. Get started today.