As Edward "Smoke 'em if you got 'em, ladies" Bernays said, social media has brought us full circle to “an earlier age [where] a leader was usually known to his followers personally; there was a visual relationship between them. Communication was accomplished principally by personal announcement to an audience.”
It's true. Social media allows us to create millions of self-selected communities comprised of people who have common experiences, common interests, or shared values … and sometimes all three.
Their online conversations are by their very nature “personal announcements to an audience,” (sometimes a bit too personal). More often than not there is a visual relationship between them even if they’re on the other side of the globe. And to the degree that these communities have leaders, they are certainly well known to their followers and—more importantly—they are approachable, unlike the leaders of the 20th century.
These communities are strong and insular. You won’t reach people through advertising. They’re not listening to outsiders anymore.
It's going to take work. You are going to have to find the communities of people who share your values. Then you will have to listen and learn before you speak. And when you do speak, you need to give more than you receive, at least at first. In short, before they're going to want to hear anything you have to say, you have to be welcomed into their community.
So how do you do that? Simple. You have to stop radiating like a star and start absorbing like a quasar.
To be a success in the 20th century was to be a star. Whether a movie star, a rock star, a political star, or an NBA All Star, your job was to shine brightly and be worshiped by “the little people” below you. Interaction with the masses was carefully scripted and strictly limited.
Then the Internet—which prefers dialogues over monologues—gave birth to a new celestial model of success: the quasar.
Unlike a star, which only radiates, a quasar has an enormous black hole at its core that sucks matter and energy in while simultaneously emitting more light than any star in the universe. This two-way flow of energy is the foundation of successful communication in the Interactive Age. Monologues are out; thoughtful and empathetic dialogues are in.
QuASAR also happens to be a handy acronym for the method that will make you a more thoughtful, empathetic, and successful communicator. And it is the QuASAR Method that holds the secret to being heard in the Interactive Age.
Up next: Get to the point already!