Cheers to our raving fans

When Jim and I presented our social media strategies for growing business at She Streams in Ft. Lauderdale a couple of weeks ago, we ended our discussion with a topic we had never addressed before. We called it the secret to our success; even though it wasn’t exactly a new concept. I think it just took us awhile to recognize it for what it is and put it into words.

Everyone needs support

Throughout our lives, we run into various obstacles that force us to make difficult decisions and choose a fork in the road. Sometimes when we reach that point, the answer isn’t obvious and we turn to people in our support system for help and guidance. Those people might be family members, close friends or therapists. It doesn’t matter as long as those people are looking out for your best interests and are your biggest cheerleaders.

These people will eventually become your raving fans, which is the secret Jim and I shared at She Streams. We found a support system, curated a community and recognized and were led by our raving fans.

When you find a rave, ride the roller coaster

It’s still difficult for me to look back and tell someone the story about how SheHe Media was born. I will skip the “I Met Him on Twitter” story and fast-forward to the business venture. (“Fast-forward” seems like an appropriate term to use because all of this happened so quickly.)

February 2011: I officially left the corporate world, started my own business and took on Jim’s company ColorMetrix as a client. I also became his editor for various blogs. I wouldn’t realize it until much later, but Jim was my first raving fan. He helped me choose the fork in the road and helped me reach a goal.

March 2011: The first “She Said, He Said” blog posts appeared on JimRaffel.com, but infrequently. Quite by accident, we found our support system. These were the people who consistently read the blog posts, commented regularly on them and interacted with us about them on Twitter.

April 2011: Recognizing the positive feedback we were receiving from the blog posts, we developed a strategy to post on a weekly schedule. Interaction on the website and especially Twitter grew exponentially and we decided it was time to take the concept further.

May 2011: The first weekly #shehechat took place on Twitter. We picked Thursdays at 8 p.m. CST for the chat time and had many discussions about it. If we were going to do it, we wanted to remain committed to it. If we told our community it was happening weekly and only showed up every now and then, we knew we would be failing them. This was a hard decision to make because of both of our personal and professional lives; not to mention travel schedules. But here’s a fact we shared with our She Streams audience: Since May, we have only canceled #shehechat twice. Once was the night of the Green Bay Packers’ season opener (hey the President postponed his speech that night so we figured we could cancel a chat) and the other was Thanksgiving. But we were able to easily make this commitment because of the popularity of the blog posts and the interaction on Twitter in the community. The raving fans kept us going and kept us motivated.

June and July 2011: Once the Twitter chat was launched, Jim started bugging me about doing live presentations. Having never done one, I was more than a little hesitant. “We’ll just apply,” he said. “It will take 6 months of sending in applications before we get accepted to one. By then, you’ll feel better about it.” So we applied and – go figure – our very first application was accepted for WordCamp Chicago on July 30.

So fast it makes my head spin

Six months. See how fast that happened?

Within the following six months, we would present “She Said, He Said” a half dozen more times and eventually launch SheHe Media as a true joint venture at the beginning of this year. Those differences of opinions that began as every-once-in-awhile blog posts blossomed into a company that has paying clients in less than a year. And all of that is thanks to our support system and our raving fans.

With each blog post, each Twitter chat and each speaking engagement, we gain more raving fans and more reasons to continue down this path. We will run our company and take on more clients while still utilizing our beginning tools to interact and engage with the community.

We wanted to thank those of you who have read our blog posts, participated in #shehechat, attended our sessions and just in general supported us in our endeavors. We are sending handwritten cards and SheHe Media stickers (pictured) out to our raving fans. If you’d like to be included, please use the contact form or direct message Jim or me on Twitter (@raffel and @ShelMKE) with your address and we’ll get them out in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, I will simply toast our raving fans before I move on to my next task of the day. We wouldn’t be here without all of you. Cheers!