It was October, 4th 2017. I was on the bus returning home from a little local event for the Chinese mid-Autumn festival and in my mouth I had still the taste of the mooncake that I had eaten. I started looking my facebook notifications to chat with some friends. There was a message from VR enthusiast Enrico Speranza, a nice guy that I got to know through VR communities and that is building a VR-Awesome repository and a VR worlds platform called Mayaverse. I opened the message and the text was like “Well, congratulations… #34 is absolutely not a bad ranking in the top 100”. Honestly, I hadn’t even a single clue of what he was talking about, until I noticed the link that he had added to the message. It was this one:
In that moment I discovered that I’ve become a Virtual Reality influencer.
Wow. Last year I was considered by almost no one and now I’m in the top 50 list of world influencers of virtual reality! How has this happened?
Since to enter this classification I used advice read on the web, I want to return the favor back to the community, telling you how I got my little share of popularity, so that you can benefit from this post and become an influencer as well… hope even better than me (honestly speaking, I feel strange in being defined as an influencer, I even hate that word, as I’ve explained in this other post of mine).
Let me be honest, there is no simple way of becoming influencers. Or better, there are some, but are not always viable:
Unfortunately, I’ve little money and even less luck. So, I had to conquer everything working hard, over time. Every damn day. If life gives you lemon… well, make a gin tonic.
You will need a lot of time and lot of efforts to arrive where you want to arrive, it will be damn long and hard. Keep that in mind.
When I was working at my Immotionar startup, my buddy Gianni Rosa Gallina one day told me that I had to recover my dormant Twitter account to start spamming a bit about our project. It was 2015 maybe and I absolutely wasn’t into social media. I had no willing to do that (I was too lazy), but Gianni encouraged me to start, just to tweet a bit some links of our blog posts. In the end, I did that and in the first times I just started tweeting some VR-related links that he gave me to read. I started tweeting them with some random hashtags (#VR, #gamedev, #VirtualReality, etc…) and I noticed that I started getting some followers. I still thank Gianni for his initial effort: it helped me in getting where I am now.
This is how it all began. As you can see, there is not some epic beginning: I just started using again a twitter account I left dormant some years before and tweeting random VR-related links.
Takeaways from this:
Starting in a crappy way is awesome and lets you get confidence with the mean. Over time you’ll start realizing all the errors you make and you’ll correct them. You have to improve your social media strategy over time, or you will get stuck into being just another social media user. You have to aim at the stars, so you want to make a great use of your digital tools.
What have I done to improve myself? Well, various things… for instance:
Then I went to the next level, mixing different platforms:
So, the process is always this: start, someway. Then learn how you can improve and iterate. Continue this way, forever. Then start using a new platform in a mediocre way and start improving with that, too.
But, how can you improve? Well, there are 3 means:
Just to show you how in my opinion you just have to start and then improve, I’ll show you this terrible video I’ve done some time ago. I wanted to experiment with Twitch and Youtube, so I made this review of a game, just to discover, during the review, that the experience wasn’t actually a game. The result is pretty horrible and I got a comment from a guy saying that watching the video is like “watching a baby taking its first shit”.
But that’s ok, I’ve just started using the medium… I’ll be better. But I’m proud that I’ve tried experimenting with a new platform.
No one likes following bots just tweeting news. Start expressing your opinions, start interacting with other people. On Linkedin, for instance, I’ve discovered that is better adding a little personal sentence together with each link that I’m sharing.
Give your personal touch to everything, people have to recognize you. For instance, in my blog, I like having an informal style and using memes while talking about Virtual Reality. Someone may not like it… but for those people, there are more serious magazines like Upload VR or Road To VR.
This also means finding your right path: for instance I’m more into writing long virtual reality posts than into making videos (I think you got it looking that horrible video above), so even if most people prefer making videos and become Youtubers, I still like Wordpress and Medium. That’s me.
Apart from the personal touch, my advice is to try also to be kind, helpful, funny. Imagine the kind of influencer that you would like to meet and become that one. For instance, I try to:
I think that this willing to help people and have a nice relationship with them is the one of the reasons for my little success. This post itself is the product of my willing of helping other people entering the VR social world. And I advise you to be this way, both on social media and in life since people will look at you as a positive person and this is really beautiful.
These are things that I like in all other influential people. For instance, I love interacting with the super-XR-influencer Malia Probst on Twitter, because not only she’s a very talented person, but she also makes me always laugh with her comments. Be awesome as her.
I’m never the smartest guy in the room. Most of my followers are better than me in XR, startups or such. That’s ok. I accept this and continue tweeting. I’m honored of having such smart people in my communities and I’m happy of learning with them.
Don’t let the “I’m not smart enough” syndrome stop you. As Chinese people say, “There are people beyond (this) person, and skies beyond (this) sky”, meaning that “No matter how good you think you are, there is always someone out there that is better”. Even the smart people that you envy have people somewhere smarter than them. That’s part of the game. Just start and improve.
You have to write interesting stuff to have people following you. “Interesting” may mean different things, but the gist is that following you must be worth it.
Talking about Virtual Reality, this may mean for instance:
There are a lot of other interesting examples. But I think you got it: be interesting for your readers. Remember the old sentence “To obtain value, you have to give value”.
In my case, inside my blog I write a bit of all the above contents. Furthermore, each week I send to my newsletter subscribers a selection of the most interesting virtual reality news of the week, so that they can avoid reading all the VR news every day and stay updated the same. I try being of help.
Some people for instance just make fluff posts on VR and pretend to have lots of followers. It doesn’t work this way: just reporting Upload VR news won’t take you anywhere.
If you have ever seen the movie Any Given Sunday, you surely remember the motivational speech that Al Pacino makes to his players. Otherwise, take 5 minutes and watch it.
That is exactly what you have to do, fight inch by inch for each one of your objectives, day after day. You have to die for every single inch. Every inch you conquer will cost you a lot, but in the end you may arrive at the touchdown area.
I’m saying this because the beginning is really depressing: you tweet and get not even a retweet. You write an amazing article on your blog and only 10 people read it. You write to journalists and interesting people and they don’t even consider you. You invest a lot of time and you get nothing… you start thinking about giving up: those social media are so useless.
You have to fight for each new follower, for each like. With time you’ll have your success… but it will really require a lot of time to see even your first results. Don’t give up. Never. If results are not coming the way you wanted, then it just means that you have to improve: learn new tactics and try again. trial&error plus persistence can take you really the long way.
It will require you a lot of time, it will require you a piece of your life. Because every day you’ll have to open your social media channels and use them, even if you’re tired and you don’t feel like doing it. It is an investment you have to do. A sacrifice. Using the social media is not only fun, it is a job.
So, you have to plant a seed today and keep growing that little tree with water, manure, and fatigue, until one day, after years from the initial moment, you start seeing the first apple. And it will be so sweet, and biting it you’ll realize that all your hard work has been worth it.
If you’re thinking about giving up, send me a tweet and I’ll remember you that you have to continue fighting and optionally I’ll also send you a panda GIF.
There’s no stage where you say “Ok, I’m an influencer” and you can start resting. On the contrary, the more you go on, the more you have to improve and give value to your followers. The process never ends, so start only if you are confident in having this job for your whole life.
Look at me: I’m just at place #34 of the classification… I would like to climb the ladder to arrive at least at #25 next year. I would like more engagement. I would like to connect better with virtual reality corporates like Oculus and Valve. I would like to help more the VR community. I’ve a really long long road to go in front of me. And I hope to continue this journey with you all.
Hope you liked this post. If this is the case, please share it on your social media and come visiting me at my AR/VR blog The Ghost Howls.