Use Good Bait and Fish Where the Fish Are

originally posted on Concept Hub

I really only have one good fish story. I was 11 years old and my native American Step-Grandfather took me to a pond to fish using a cane pole. I actually caught something. I did not know what, but it was big. Too big to pull it out the way my grandfather was trying to show me. So I flung the cane pole over my shoulder and started running up the hill. Behind me was a big ol’ Bass flapping as it was being dragged up the hill. Behind the bass was my Grandfather ROFL (for those who do not text, that is Rolling on the Floor Laughing). So, if I am not much into fishing, what is up with the title of this post? I am working with a client on a very ambitious social networking project. We have done all kinds of research from evaluating the current landscape of relevant online networks to multiple focus group meetings. Today as I began laying out the plans to launch our first online outreach program  I sent my client a question to clarify our direction. Her response was that we need to “fish where the fish are.” That one cliche’ started me thinking about what a great analogy that is for many social networking sites. Recently I was having a conversation with someone about the challenges of launching what seems like ‘yet another social networking site.’ People are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the many other various sites that keep popping up. Creating just another site would simply be adding to the noise. This is true if that site is not offering anything of value that is not being offered somewhere else or is only created to be self-serving. So staying with the fishing analogy, the first thing you need to do is know what kind of fish you want to catch. The second thing you need to do is learn their behaviors, likes, and dislikes. What kind of fishing lures do you need? What is the best bait to use? You also need to know if they feed in the morning, afternoon, or at night. Finally, you need to know if they swim in schools, at the bottom of the deep end or in shallow water. Are they in salt water or fresh water? Imagine someone trying to seriously fish and all they do is take a cane pole to a pond with a bit of bread and cast it out in the middle of the afternoon. That is equivalent to what many social networking efforts look like. Yes sometimes they might catch the big bass, but if that wasn’t what they were fishing for, they might just have to throw it back. The moral of the story is before launching into your social networking efforts, know your audience and their behaviors, know what they are hungry for, and then go fish where the fish are.