Larry Brauner

My social media experiences have dramatically altered my thinking about list building.

This article may cause you too to rethink everything you’ve been taught and believe about list building.

My Articles on List Building

I have discussed building a list and its importance in several blog posts, which I list here for your convenience:

List Building Before Social Media

I remember the Rolodex, “a rotating file device used to store business contact information” according to Wikipedia. I still have one in a carton somewhere at home.

I long ago replaced my Rolodex with a spreadsheet, but contact information I collect online I store in an autoresponder, a widely used e-mail marketing tool.

Most online marketers today would tend to visualize list building as a well-written lead capture page linked by a web form to an autoresponder. While this type of list building is still extremely important, especially in conjunction with online or offline advertising, it is nevertheless List Building 1.0.

Concept of Follower

In order to broaden our view of list building we introduce the concept of follower, a term frequently used in the social media world.

A follower is a person (or organization) who subscribes to (or in some other way receives) messages, sometimes called updates, from the person (or organization) whom they follow.

Examples of Followers

The concept of follower applies to List Building 1.0. A subscriber to my autoresponder is certainly one of my followers.

However, a friend at a social network (to whom I can send messages whenever I wish) is just as much a follower as my autoresponder subscriber. What’s interesting in this case is that I’m also that person’s follower. We’re mutually following each other.

A subscriber to my blog’s RSS feed (who receives an update whenever I post an article) is also a follower. What’s of interest here is that my follower is totally anonymous.

I have no way to identify this follower unless that person (or organization) chooses to step forward. For all I know I might even be following my follower without realizing that he or she is following me too. We could be mutually following each other without ever knowing it.

Suppose I own a radio or television station, or I host a talk show, my listeners or viewers are followers who keep track of me and receive my messages without subscribing in any way.

List Building 2.0

When list building is viewed as the process of acquiring and nurturing followers, you can easily understand how in List Building Using Twitter I could claim that “list building possibilities are endless”.

They really are, and the many reaching out methods you devise can be mixed, matched and synergized to develop a rich and heterogeneous following. Welcome to the world of social marketing and List Building 2.0!

Would you care to follow me?

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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14 Responses to “List Building Paradigm Shift”

  1. Morgan Mandel on January 18th, 2009 10:56 pm

    I love using Twitter because it’s fast, with no ads to wait for. Twitter also makes me think concisely to get my messages across within a limited amount of characters.

    It’s great for quickly contacting people when I have a limited amount of time.

    Morgan Mandel
    Morgan Mandel Blog
    Morgan Mandel on Twitter

  2. Jeffrey D. on January 19th, 2009 12:04 am


    Diane Hochman recently made a video saying that Twitter is the “newest hottest thing”. Hearing this you may be thinking this is a “GOOD” thing for marketers. To the contrary, she says that when something is at it’s peak of popularity, it begins to fall and the “NEW” trend starts to take place. Diane reminds everyone that she first started Tweeting over a YEAR AND A HALF AGO! She says that to Optimize something you need to get in when it first starts ( i.e. The Spiderweb System ). I am listening closely to Diane because she is always investigating the NEWEST trends. I believe, possibly that Affiliate U and Elevision are a NEW wave of the future of marketing. You might have stumbled upon something incredible!


  3. Larry Brauner on January 19th, 2009 12:21 am


    Twitter is just one of many venues that can be “mixed, matched and synergized”.

    However, I personally think that Twitter could grow enormously if the masses join in.

    I did notice that Diane Hochman has been growing her Twitter followers the last couple of months, and she’s up to 1,738.

    In any case, the main point of my article is that there’s much more to list building than driving leads through web forms into autoresponders.


  4. Jeffrey D. on January 19th, 2009 1:08 am


    I understand your point about List building. I just believe that when people opt into your autoresponder they actually “WANT” what you have to offer. TWITTER is becoming a “status” place where ANYONE will follow ANYONE else, concerned with their own numbers and not necessarily interested in WHO or WHAT they are following.

    Personally, I am happy that you are getting GREAT results. You have fantastic content and great sites. 90% don’t offer HALF of what you give others. Twitter, if anything, is still a great place to have some good conversations.


  5. Larry Brauner on January 19th, 2009 11:02 am


    The 80/20 Rule applies to Twitter and to all other social media sites.

    The 80/20 Rule applies to autoresponder subscribers and to autoresponder users as well.

    There’s no escaping 80/20.


  6. Debbie Morgan on January 19th, 2009 3:12 pm

    Hi Larry!

    Thanks for this great information.

    I have to agree. Although autoresponders have people who opt in, you don’t have that quality of follower with social list building, but I think the conversion rate applies here as with online sales. The more unique visitors, the more sale conversions.

    It’s easy to build a large social list, and the larger the list, the more serious followers you have. Yes, there will be a percentage who don’t follow, but the conversion rate probably depends on the quality of content.

    I like the concept.


  7. I.C. Jackson on January 20th, 2009 8:00 pm

    List Building 2.0! That’s brilliant!

    I have learned that if you’re not building your list, you’re not going to go far in Internet marketing, but those just starting out usually don’t make list building a priority until they crash and burn trying to do without it.

    And in comes Web 2.0!

    I use Ning and Twitter, and because of your advice, I’m going to sit down and develop a strategic plan for my Ning activity this year.

    I’ve got over 1,000 [followers on Twitter], but I need to work toward getting to 5,000 within the next 3-6 months. I’ve made money through my Twitter list, so it’s time to grow it and leverage it for all it’s worth!

    Thank you for this series, Larry!

  8. Blog Anniversary Contest on January 21st, 2009 5:09 pm

    Hi Larry,

    I’ve done the autoresponder and social networking lists. The latter seems to be more responsive, but you have no control over the social networking friends lists. For instance, the Ning decision to not let you email to more than 100 people hurt.

    The one thing your post and comments note is that you have to keep looking for something new, while continuing the somethings old that work.

    I’m trying a contest to celebrate the first anniversary of my blog. The price is one week’s use of my timeshare in Branson, MO. I’ve linked to a page about the contest above.


    Linda P. Morton

  9. Larry Brauner on January 21st, 2009 5:39 pm

    Hi Linda,

    If you think you have control over your autoresponder, consider this.

    Roughly five years ago I had an autoresponder that contained tens of thousands of leads.

    There was a fellow who kept calling me from pay phones in Washington State to complain that I was spamming him. He refused to identify himself so that I could remove him.

    After torturing me for a month or so with his phone calls, he complained to the company hosting the autoresponder.

    They shut me down and kept my leads. Their decision was unilateral, and they wouldn’t speak to me about the situation.

    Any sense of control we have over anything is only an illusion.

    As far as Ning is concerned, decisions that they have made have been inconvenient for you, me and others.

    However, we have to continually adapt. Please see List Building Using Ning Social Networks for my approach to Ning.

    By the way, I do have an offer for you that will help you benefit from your large Ning friend list.

    All the best,


  10. Jeffrey D. on January 23rd, 2009 1:30 am

    I have not had any problems sending messages to almost 500 of my Ning friends, except with 1 or 2 sites.


  11. Top 10 Reasons for Social Marketing | birdbathBUZZ on August 31st, 2009 8:50 pm

    […] media employs a community and list building paradigm that’s much more comprehensive, natural and intimate than conventional databases and […]

  12. Dennis Hampton on July 23rd, 2010 5:56 pm

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  13. Top 10 Reasons for Social Marketing on August 27th, 2010 10:00 am

    […] media employs a community and list building paradigm that’s much more comprehensive, natural and intimate than conventional databases […]

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