It’s your First Follower who does most of your work

by Carl Natale on November 1, 2010

Stuff We All Get

Stuff We All Get - Not just First Followers

I picked up this cool piece of SWAG at the MaineBiz Momentum Convention last week. It’s plastic holder of tiny sticky notes. The strips come in seven colors – which should appeal to the organized labelers out there.
It appeals to me because I’ve taken to using the tiny sticky strips as bookmarks for business books. I can write a label to help explain why a section is important to me.

I found this at the Broadreach Public Relations booth as I was walking out of the keynote speech by Doug Hall (very inspiring and useful by the way). There were a lot of other people doing the same thing. So quite a few people saw and heard me when I stopped that Broadreach’s booth and said, “This is cool.”

A few people also stopped to pick up the sticky holder too. One said she was going to keep on going but thought it was worth checking out when I declared it cool.
You see what happened?

For a moment I was a first follower. I made it OK for anyone else to stop and check out the SWAG. Nothing bad happened to me. And I was enjoying the experience.

I don’t want to make too much out of this. This isn’t exactly an act of courage or daring. I got a freebie to use in my home office.

But it’s a handy illustration of Derek Siver’s first follower concept. Basically, if you want to start a movement, you need to recruit a first follower who validates your principles.

In a more commercial context, you want someone to endorse your business. You can go the celebrity-based ad campaign or reach out to a community on a grass-roots level. Your first follower can be seen as:

  • Reviewers – Both professional writers and social media users
  • Current Customers – If a restaurant parking lot is full, what does that tell you about the food?
  • Previous Customers – This is why it’s key to get referrals from previous customers
  • Models – People shown in your ads and marketing materials

The key is to accept your first follower as an equal. This helps subsequent followers see that it’s OK to overcome inertia and follow your lead.

Here’s a great video that shows it in action in a much more fun illustration.

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