Are you having trouble getting people interested in your social media content? There’s a reason no one cares.

Do you know what it is? Gather in close. I will tell you.

If no one cares about your social media content, it’s because you aren’t responding to them. You aren’t listening. The secret to social media success is this: Responsiveness.

That’s right. Responsiveness. In other words, when your online community tweets, comments, or messages you, you respond back.

It’s not timing (oh, how I loathe “timing” studies). It’s not post length (although that can help). It’s not the tools you use. It’s not any factor that lives “out there,” just beyond our grasp.

It boils down to being a living, breathing human being connecting on a one-to-one level with other living, breathing human beings. That’s responsiveness.

The people who understand the need for responsiveness are the ones who see results. It’s the great differentiator. You can’t easily “scale” responsiveness, which is why it’s so precious. The brands and business who respond will win. The ones that do not (or will not), won’t.

My thinking on this has shifted through the years, but I have people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Jon Acuff to look at as role models. They have audiences much larger than mine and somehow, they find a way to respond. If they can do it, I can do it.


When faced with the responsiveness question, many organizations will give excuses like:

  1. But Justin, we don’t have enough time to be responsive.
  2. But Justin, we don’t know what to say–what if someone says something bad about us?
  3. But Justin, there’s no one on staff who can do that right now.
  4. But Justin, won’t that take a lot of time (short answer: YES).

You know what that is? Bullsh*t. All of it. (And many of you need strong language like that to shake the cobwebs off. Did it work? Do I have your attention now?)

If you are too busy to respond to your online audience, you are too busy to see results. Period.

Look at these folks being responsive:


Jon Acuff


Delta Airlines

Gary Vaynerchuk


Ann Curry


If you don’t respond to your audience, you’re no better than telemarketers—you want the results without building the relationship.

Social media is not a “free” marketing channel to endlessly blast your poor, tired, marketing-weary audience. It is a living, breathing connection to the people who have chosen to be a part of your community.

Give them the respect they deserve. Start responding. If no one is tweeting at you or commenting on your stuff, go out and find some people to talk to (they’re out there).

The social media of the future will be responsive. Don’t get left behind!

UPDATE: The original version of this post had the curse word spelled out. I changed it because, even though I believe what I wrote, it made folks I trust ask questions. I’m super passionate about this topic, thus the strong language. The edited version still makes a strong point while being a little more palatable. I am sorry if I offended you.


I have a soft spot for people who take action.

Take Christian, for instance. Christian started Think Digital Academy, our social media coaching program, with 12 (TWELVE!) email addresses in his database.

No one was clicking his links. No one was reading his emails. No one was reading his blog. Nothing.

No traction. No movement. No amount of blog posting or buffered tweets were going to solve his problem.

Truthfully, most people in Christian’s situation would have quit long ago. But he had a vision of what he wanted his life to look like and wasn’t going to stop until he got traction.

(CUE: Soft spot)

That’s when Christian found Think Digital Academy. After implementing a few of the coaching tips and using the course resources, his list jumped from 12 to over 150 emails in 30 days. Huge. (That’s an 1150 percent increase, by the way.)

While that may not seem like a lot, the growth was more important for his psyche than anything else.

When I listened to him speak about the changes he was seeing, I heard hope. I heard the voice of someone who felt like he was finally in charge of his own life.

It’s been amazing to watch how this material has given him the confidence to move forward with (cautious) abandon. He’s changing what was previously thought to be unchangeable.

All from a program I created from the middle of an Iowan cornfield. Amazing.

You see, it’s been a full year since I launched my own business. 9 of those 12 months were spent creating, perfecting, and tweaking Think Digital Academy.

As I watch the first round of Academy members “graduate” next month (Christian included), I’m reminded of a few gems that make me smile. For instance:

  • Over 100 people, businesses, and organizations (125 to be exact) are in Think Digital Academy right now
  • Think Digital Academy was featured as one of the “12 Best Online Courses for Learning Practical Business Skills” in The Huffington Post
  • Two Academy members have quit their jobs because of the audience they were able to build using materials in the course

What a privilege to watch all this happen!

As I thought about what’s next for members after they leave the Academy, I saw a common theme emerge from course feedback.

What do people want to concentrate on next? Two words: personal branding.

In fact, the last class I taught at Drake University only confirmed my suspicions. When I asked the students, “if you could have any class in the world that’s not currently being offered, what would it be?” Immediately, almost all of them answered, “personal branding.”

That’s why I’m thrilled to bring you Think Digital Masters Class. It’ll be a 4-month course focused on personal branding and living life on your own terms.

We’re taking applications right now and you should consider applying IF (and only IF):

  1. You want to break out of the 9-to-5 job you mildly tolerate (at best)
  2. You’ve got an entrepreneurial bug that won’t stop biting
  3. You want to earn extra income on the side but aren’t ready to quit your full-time gig
  4. You want to blog or write for a living

If one (or more) of those qualifiers describes you, click here and enter your info. We’ll get you an application ASAP.

Please note: We are only taking 10-12 applicants in this first round of the Masters Class. I want to ensure a great experience for the first (and subsequent) rounds, so we need to keep it super small. Don’t waste time if you’re interested.

Take action and start living the life you want by building your personal brand. It’s truly the most unique offering you can bring to the table. Don’t waste it!

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When I went to Las Vegas for the first time, I knew I wanted to try gambling.

Being 21 at the time, gambling still had the allure of rebellion. Plus, I hadn’t figured out how to do basic math and realize the house never loses.

Long story short, I gave myself $400 to go crazy with. (Lest you think this was out of prudence, it wasn’t. I was broke and the money came from a loan I was supposed to use to buy a computer. Whoops.)

I lost half of it on one spin of the roulette wheel within five minutes. The next $100 took about 15 minutes to lose and went to blackjack dealer with an eyepatch (true story).

Feeling the pain, I dabbled in nickel slots (depressing), then penny slots (more depressing). By the end of the night, I literally lost all my money and had to walk back to the house we were staying at.

The more behind I got, the less I spent. Part of this was simple economics: The less you have to spend, the less you are able to spend.

But there was a different dynamic in play. One that I could only see in hindsight: fear.

You see, the more behind I got, the more afraid I became. Eventually, the fear mentality overtook me and I wasn’t able to make clear decisions.

I was preoccupied with maintaining what little I had instead of being able to see the other opportunities in front of me (namely: STOP GAMBLING! Take in a show! Enjoy a buffet! STOP GAMBLING!).

If there was any consolation, it’s that most everyone in our group fared the same. “Them’s the breaks, kid.”

Here’s something I’ve learned: life plays out much like my gambling experience.

The more behind we get, the more fearful we become. The longer we delay taking the chances we know we should be taking, the tighter we hold what little we do have.

Thankfully, the opposite dynamic is also at play.

For instance, one of my social media/business coaching clients landed her first paying client last week.

The contract she landed is enough to build up a safety net while she’s still working her 9-to-5. With one more client, she’ll be able to quit the job she mildly tolerates and go full-time as an entrepreneur.

Do you know what it took for her to get there? Risk. Chucking the “casino floor” mentality out the door and pushing through the fear we all feel when something big is about to happen.

She took a risk in paying someone to build her website. She took a risk by investing in coaching with me. She took a risk by taking a client and waking up early and staying up late to get the work done.

The risk, I’m finding, is what leads to rewards. She’s just starting to see the benefits of risk, and it’s only going to get better.

What do you want to do in life? Soberly consider this: Taking a risk is the only way I know to get there.

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