For a couple of months, I billed myself as a “Social Media Expert”, which I am. :D
I removed that title because in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t say anything specific or useful about me. It was mostly “Keeping up with the Joneses”. I would look at people billing themselves as SMEs and go “um… if THAT PERSON’S an expert, I’m FOR DAMNED SURE an expert!” hahahaha :D
I stopped thinking about it a long time ago, but today, I read an interesting article by Jeremy Pepper, entitled “Taking Stock – Can Social Media Do What It Claims?” that’s briefly rekindled my interest in the topic. Amongst some other interesting things, Jeremy writes:
“JP: … While people are glomming onto social media, there seems to be very little being done in the circular nature of the social media consultants.
You don’t hear/read about campaigns that are helping change the world. You don’t hear/read about campaigns that are being done with the large agencies or consultants that are trying to help make the world a better place.
You read social media people talking about social media … and that seems to be it. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy of Valleywag’s 250. And, I have written about this before, and nothing much changes.”
Jeremy then goes on to name a few Echo Chamber Bigwigs and he gives some suggestions for useful things they might do with their massive numbers of followers on various social media sites.
As I looked at his list and what he was suggesting that these people do, I was reminded of my post from four months ago, entitled “Content / Production Value / Popularity”. As a content creator, I’ve been very interested in how people acquire followings and what they utilize their fan base for. By March 2008, when I wrote C/Pv/P it was clear to me “what’s going on around here”. :D
And, yes…. This is getting back to the point of what this has to do with Jeremy’s post. :D
What’s going on around here is that people are trying to sell stuff. Period. There are two ways to do this, but they end up at the same destination. The first way is to create content that people like and enjoy and pass on to their friends, who then become viewers and hopefully PASSIONATE viewers and carry the flag for you to their towns, cities and countries all over the world. If you look at the videos from when DiggNation came to NYC and there were lines all up, down and around the block of nothing but excited FANS, FANS, and more FANS, that’s a prime example.
The other way to “sell stuff” is to base your show or site around someone that comes with a pre-fab fan base. If you don’t understand this, it’s often confusing when you see people with LESS TALENT brought on board when there are people with obviously WAY MORE TALENT available for the project. For instance, let’s say someone’s a way better musician/producer than I am, but they don’t have any social media props. If you put the two of us up for the same project (read “selling stuff” inside the Echo Chamber), you can either HOPE that people will like his/her music, and it will catch on, OR you can go with what you know, which is that I currently have 993 Twitter followers, 734 Facebook “friends”, 636 Myspace friends, etc, etc, and Google loves to Nom Nom on everything that I do, so you can find me at the top of the search results for Bill (#5 of 388,000,000), NYC dating (#7 of 309,000), video editor resume (#2 of 802,000) and Emmy Award Editor (#1 for my resume and #2 for my Indy Mogul episode, out of 612,000 English pages).
So when you look at it for what it is, what counts inside the Echo Chamber (aka the Fishbowl) is “reach”, or perhaps how much of a built-in marketing machine the person brings to the table and *NOT*…. I repeat… *NOT* their ability to make anything that remotely resembles a professionally produced or edited video. You do NOT have to have ANY talent as an on-air personality… you have to have a fan base. You do NOT have to have a track record of well-done videos… you have to have a fan base. You do NOT have to look good COUGHunlessyou’reafemaleCOUGH… you have to have a fan base.
This is one of the reasons the term “famous for nothing” is tossed around so much. If you ask “do you know XYZ?” or “have you heard of XYZ”, the answer will be “yes”. If you ask what that person does, you’ll see perplexed facial expressions and the scratching of heads. :D Basically, these people are popular NOW, and unless you were around back in the day when they initially developed their fan base, you can’t figure out WHY anybody would care what they said about ANYTHING outside of whatever their ultra-narrow niche of expertise is…. whatever that might be. This leads me to my point about Jeremy’s article…
There is a difference between the ability to attract attention and the ability to influence those whose attention you’ve attracted.
Lindsey Chen and I dropped a post two days ago, and two hours after I pressed “publish”, the visitor map for that one article looked like this:
Map for Top 10 Mistakes Guys Make When Trying To Get A Girl
What this means is that we wrote something that people were interested in reading.
What this does NOT mean is that we have any influence over anyone who read it.
Is it POSSIBLE that people might listen to what we have to say on topics other than dating? Yes. However, the fact that we have X amount of “eyeballs” doesn’t necessarily translate to the ability to mobilize ANY of those people in the direction of a cause. This is what makes it seem like social media is full of hot air. :D
What we’re developing is “cred”. The important question is “what area/field are we developing ‘cred’ IN?” If you’re famous for asking people questions, why should anyone care what YOU have to say? If you’re famous for being attractive… why should anyone care what YOU have to say? If you’re famous because your parents are famous? If you’re famous because you did a cool video one time? If you’re famous because you have a lot of subscribers or video views on YouTube?
That’s what happens when people aren’t following you for YOU, and they’re following you because of what they’re getting out of following you. If you get advance information about gadgets, people are going to follow you… Not because they LIKE you, but because THEY want to find out what YOU found out. If you made a bunch of money and sold a startup, that’s great for you! :D and congrats!… but people are going to follow you to see if THEY can learn what YOU learned and do the same thing YOU did. It doesn’t mean they like you or care what you have to say. I’m sure that most people that hit my site for dating advice don’t even read the poster’s name, or if they read it, even remember it. :)
Having said that… Along the lines of Jeremy’s question and request: “show that social media can change the world”, I do remember a situation where Chris Brogan rallied people to support Amanda Gravel in an event she put on to support someone. I’ve also seen musicians publicized and supported via social media. Very recently, Whitney Hess wrote a heartfelt post about someone she knew who died. Jay & Ryanne have traveled to REMOTE PARTS OF THE WORLD to teach people who never would have found out about it about blogging, internet connectivity and videoblogging.
So.. I’m not saying it’s impossible. It’s definitely worth a try to utilize social media for something other than publicizing ourselves, :) However, the “cred” necessary for becoming known as an authority that people can look up to to point out worthwhile causes is NOT being built up through demonstrating one’s proficiency at Public Relations. You can talk about business and social media ALL DAY, and if you turn around and don’t pay people WHAT YOU OWE THEM and ON TIME, your “cred” is ZERO. You can get interviews with “important people” ALL DAY, and if the word in the street is that you treat your fans and followers like garbage, your “cred” is ZERO. You can sell as many businesses as you want, and if nothing you have to say RIGHT NOW is original, current and relevant… your “cred” is ZERO.
So, if you’re looking for people to announce when they finally make an iPhone with the camera on the correct side so we can do video iChat with it, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for people that can tell you what tools and sites to use to enhance the productivity of your company… you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for what Jeremy calls “a higher value to social media, where we can make people’s lives better and really rally people to help others”, I’m sure there are people that are using social media for exactly that purpose, like maybe Roxanne Darling, but for the most part… “Ain’t that type of party”.