What a Village Wood Carver & Young Audio-Geek Taught Me About Social Media Marketing

When I visited my grandfather’s village as a little boy, I’d enjoy watching a wrinkled old man sit under a tree holding a small block of wood.

Skillfully wielding a carving knife in one hand, he chipped away at the shapeless mass. Slivers of shavings fell in a heap to the ground around him.

His fingers became coated with a fine layer of sawdust. And slowly – magically – something beautiful emerged from the block of wood!

It might be a sailing boat. Or a tobacco case. Or a jewel box.

By whittling away what wasn’t necessary, he created functional and beautiful things from a mass of wood.

That was a useful lesson to learn.

More recently, I was in the garage office of a young audio geek. He popped in the tape I brought him, turned a knob, and a loud hiss roared through the tiny room, almost deafening us. Faintly, amid the noise, I could hear someone singing.

The teenager pointed to squiggles on his giant monitor, tweaked a couple of controls and clicked some buttons. Almost like magic, the background noise grew faint, then vanished. And the clear, sweet, melodious tones of my little girl’s singing rang through the room!

By tuning in to the music – and eliminating the noise – this genius has restored a precious recording to its pristine, original state.

That was also another lesson.


What has a wood carver’s whittling and a techie geek’s sound editing got to do with social media marketing?

As it turns out, everything!

The Myth of Bigness

When it comes to our social networking online, we’ve all been told the same thing – bigger networks are better.

So we delve into it with gusto, rolling up our sleeves and building up the numbers.

  • We pay for clicks and likes.
  • We beg for ‘Friends’ and +1s.
  • We bribe for opt-in emails.
  • We gift for RSS feed subscribers.
  • We advertise for followers.

And if we stick with it for long enough, our networks do grow bigger. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. Or even tens (or HUNDREDS) of thousands.

Then, often, reality bites. It’s hard to say when the exact moment will arrive when you look at your ‘audience’ and ask yourself,

“But Are These Really The Right People?”

It’s that big ‘A-ha’ moment in your social marketing growth!

And of course, the answer is “No, not all of them.”

  • Some don’t think or feel the way you do about things.
  • Some won’t have enough money or interest or conviction.
  • Some may be in the wrong place, or it may not be the right time for them.

Like the wood carver in my grandpa’s village, you have a ‘block of wood’. Hidden inside it is that beautiful and functional something. To uncover it, though, you’ll have to whittle away at the block. 

To find the gold within.

Your true fans. Your loyal supporters. Your raving evangelists. Your ideal partners. Your most probable customers. Your dream team members.

They are all there, right inside your social network – along with many who don’t care.

Whittling down your networks can help you find them.

What am I saying?

Is Smaller Always Better?

Too many people hear this, and think that I advocate trimming down the size of their social networks.

That really isn’t the point.

True, there are some advantages to a smaller group. It’s easier to manage interactions with 50 people than 500. When you have a LARGE following, you’ll have to handle the roar of noise they’ll create.

Here’s a simple test.

Log on to your Twitter account around the time at which your stream is busiest. Go to your time line. Try to read the updates on each screen, and see if you can glance through them before they refresh with new content.

If you can’t do it consistently, you’re probably following too many people!

Too many to engage with meaningfully.

Just think about it.

If I’m one among 50,000 people on your email list and you invite my questions, suggestions or feedback, I KNOW that you won’t read my note and respond.

How do I know?

Well, if only 1 in 5 subscribers respond, that’s 10,000 emails. Even if you take just THREE SECONDS per message, that’s 30,000 seconds – or 500 minutes – or over EIGHT HOURS… only to read them!

Not study them, analyze them, think about them, engage me in conversation over them, or act on them.

And that’s at an ‘impossible’ 3 seconds per email! 1 – 2 – 3… Next.

It’s the same with other social interactions.

If I’m one of 100,000 followers on your Twitter account, I know it’s pure chance that I’ll ever get you to look at one of my tweets.

If I’m one of your 5,000 Friends on Facebook or Google+, the likelihood of my posts getting your attention for long enough to accomplish something is tiny.

And so, I stop trying.

As do thousands of others on your network. Folks who might fall into the sweet spot of being your “ideal audience”, for many different reasons.

To be able to hear their voices, you should be able to tune out the noise.

Twiddle with a few controls, like my young audio-geek friend does with tapes. Or get yourself some powerful tools.

That’s when you have the greatest impact through social media marketing.

Making A Bigger Impact – And Scaling It Higher

So by whittling down your network to identify your most relevant audience and then tuning out the noise to listen to them and engage them in conversations, building a relationship, you become ideally positioned to make an impact.

  • Sell a product or service.
  • Gain support or volunteers for a cause.
  • Influence opinions or be a thought leader.
  • Start a movement.
  • Build a team.


It begins by gaining mindshare among your core audience – and then growing from there.

Stephen Covey first introduced me to the concept of ‘circles of influence‘. As we grow more experienced, knowledgeable and wise, we can leave an impact on more areas, on more people, for a longer time. Our network can grow bigger and still be influenced by the things we think, say and do.

But that comes later.

After you’ve first established yourself as a player, an expert, a specialist, a guru – by whittling down and tuning in.

So, Are The Social Media Mavens Wrong?

Or, worse, are they misleading you?

Not really. Many of us set out with dreams of world domination. Or at least massive achievement.

Trouble is, it isn’t quick and easy. It takes passion, persistence and some luck. You’ll need patience combined with determination and stick-to-it-iveness to make it.

And not everyone has what it takes to make the cut.

Once you do reach this tipping point, bigger is better. Your favorite social marketing guru or diva has already reached that point. Sees the social media landscape through those unique lenses. And offers suggestions for getting to that point yourself.

There’s one thing that’s often overlooked…

Your Goals May Be Different!

To accomplish your goals, you may not need to be “world famous” or become a “celebrity”. For most of us, being a ‘mini-celebrity’ in our niches is more than adequate to reach all of our goals – even the big ones!

That’s the shocker. Not everyone is identical.

A few people are indeed better off with social networks having thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of friends, followers and fans.

But most of us only need a thousand true fans.

Maybe even less!

That’s why the impact of a wood carver in a remote South Indian village and a geeky audiophile working in a garage has guided my social media marketing strategy… and helped make my dreams come true.

Do you think it’ll work for you? Or are you an acolyte of the “bigger is always better” cult?

Please share your thoughts in a comment.

About the Author

Dr.Mani is a writer, heart surgeon and fund raiser, who blogs about living your passionate purpose at Money.Power.Wisdom – http://www.MoneyPowerWisdom.com

You can learn about his non-profit project to help sponsor treatment for under-privileged children with heart birth defects at www.CHDinfo.com

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