Let me tell you how Social Media works…
There are two layers. There’s the online layer and then the offline layer.
The online layer is where we all say whatever we want about ourselves and expect people to take our word for it. The offline layer is where you have to PUT UP OR SHUT UP. You’re either the same person IRL (In Real Life) that you claim to be online or you’re not.
If you ARE the same person, your “Cred” (credit, props, believability) increases. Street Cred, Social Cred.. Whatever Cred you built online, your reputation will become infinitely more valid if you walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.
If you ARE NOT the same person, your Cred will DISAPPEAR. Beleedat. Gone! 😀 Nobody’s going to believe anything you have to say after your IRL presentation disproves who you made yourself out to be online.
Who Are You, Really?
It’s now the year 2010. Everybody that you know has their own online networks. Everybody that you know has an opinion about you, good, bad or neutral. Everybody that you know has EXPRESSED THAT OPINION about you to their friends. Being that we tend to all have the same friends in this space, all you need is for the word to come around from several people before the rumors about you are accepted as proven fact.
During the evening, my blog came up in conversation. I’m always caught off guard when someone mentions that they read the messages in bottles that I float out onto the internet.
I’m not exactly surprised, being that I’ve averaged 264 “uniques” per day for the last full year (An “unique” being a visit to a website from a distinct IP address, most likely indicating that a different person came to the site for each address so you can gauge how many people are accessing your content), but being that there’s no telling who’s reading if they don’t leave a comment, I have to assume that everybody I know or NOBODY I KNOW is reading this. 😀
The point is that everyone I spent time with last night got a decent idea of what it’s like to hang out with me, albeit under overly-loud, overly-crowded circumstances due to St. Patty’s. The time we’ve spent together IRL is going to flavor their experience if they read something I write. The online and offline are going to be weighed against each other and my authenticity will be determined by each individual.
What happens after that is that information hits the back-channel.
As much interaction as we have in public on the internet, much more goes on behind the scenes. Back-Channel information is also considered more authentic because people are free to say what they really think without fear of public backlash. That guy Bill is an alcoholic. That guy Bill is a womanizer. That guy Bill wouldn’t hesitate to punch you in your face. That guy Bill is a gentleman. That guy Bill won’t ever leave you laying around drunk in a pile of garbage at the end of the night…
Whatever it is, people trade stories about you, and if you’re someone like me, who has 413 Facebook Friends in common with Chris and 349 FB Friends in common with Sarah and 347 FB Friends in common with Dina, there is LOTS OF INFORMATION floating around on the back-channel defining how people perceive you and act towards you that you never even find out about. Fortunately for me, I’m an empath, so I can actually FEEL when someone’s acting differently towards me compared to what I’m used to from them. Most people can’t do this, so they’re pretty much oblivious to how their offline shenanigans are affecting their online reputation.
Reputation vs. Reality
Everybody comes here sooner or later.
I’ve hung out with people from Texas, The UK, Hawaii, Japan, California, The Netherlands, Ireland, Israel…
There are A LOT OF PEOPLE that know what it’s like to have a f2f IRL chat with me and I really doubt any of them would give you an extremely different opinion of who I appear to be. That’s because I’m not acting. I’m trying my best to deliver via text what I actually think about or do. Much is lost in translation, but I’m attempting to express “The Real”.
Most people don’t have the same opportunity to meet so many people unless they go to a festival or conference such as South by Southwest® (SXSW®). That means they don’t get much practice at interacting with people IRL that they’ve built relationships with online. I would compare it to going straight to a professional sports playoff situation without having played any of the regular season. There’s a great opportunity for brand advancement and an even greater opportunity for brand destruction.
Your online presence is a virtual representation of yourself, like Second Life or The Sims. Before people meet you, they’re likely to assume that the way you are online is the way you are IRL. There’s no reason not to, because all they know about you is what they’ve read. Once they meet you, they will come away with the impression that you’re outputting authentic content that expresses who you are as a person or that you’re AN ACTOR. If you’re determined to be an actor, your media will be perceived as AN ACT. You’re writing a character, like Don Quixote or Jason Bourne.
Matt Damon isn’t Jason Bourne IRL. When you watch his movies, you don’t go “Man… Matt Damon could kick someone’s ass! :D”. Similarly, if your IRL presentation isn’t congruent with the content you post online, people probably won’t mention it in public blog posts or comments, but on the back-channel, the word spreads rapidly that you’re FULL OF ****! 😀 Everything you carefully built by typing words online that you never intended to back up in person is going to be undermined when you go to a conference and people meet the real you. Believe me.. It’s too late for trickery. The time for snake oil sales is OVER. Whether people tell you to your face or not, your smoke & mirrors aren’t fooling those of us that actually know what time it is and your reputation for mediocrity, tomfoolery or just plain WACKNESS is getting around.
So here are some tips for those of you that are doing it wrong and undermining your own brand with lameness:
If you go to a conference where you’re glad-handing with hundreds of people, stop Twittering about ONLY the ******* CELEBRITIES you met or people who you’re trying to suck up to. If you pose for 80 pictures with “The People” on your camera and then only upload the ones where you’re with stars, YOU SUCK! If every time you post something to Facebook, it’s an advertisement for yourself, your clients, or someone whose **** you’re riding, you look like exactly what you are.. A SHILL, and everybody knows it and nobody likes it.
On top of that, you’re actually doing your clients a disservice. I automatically ignore all media from shills because I know they’re trying to push something. If you think you’re getting your clients exposure by being a walking advertisement, you’re wrong. You’re getting them IGNORED, because they aligned themselves with YOU, and you’ve proven that you don’t give a flying **** about people other than using them for “eyeballs” or “hits”.
I don’t give a damn when your next concert is if the last time I heard from you it was to advertise your previous concert. I don’t give a damn that your client is doing a live stream when the last live stream you produced was STRAIGHT GARBAGE, technically AND content-wise. I don’t give a damn that you were standing next to some bigwig at a party and shouted them out on Twitter when they don’t even mention that you were there at all. If I cared about that, I’d read TMZ, not your lame, obvious, redundant, non-progressive blog or twitter posts.
Pay Attention IRL
If you go to a tweetup, DO NOT spend the entire time on your ******* laptop. :/ Act as if you have a life other than being online or just stay your ass at home. This goes *TRIPLE* if you happen to be the ******* GUEST. OF. HONOR. of the tweetup. If people are showing up to a location to meet *YOU*, make ******* SURE that you spend as much time as humanly possible interacting with them. Handle your online business BEFORE or AFTER the meetup. At least act as if you give a damn about people who pay attention to you that aren’t stars that you can try to get props for by Twittering their names all over creation.
I guarantee you that it’s “The Little People” that have more props on the back-channel than the celebrities do. You know why?… hahaha Because there are MORE LITTLE PEOPLE THAN CELEBRITIES! 😀 .. Think about that.
When you name-drop about a celebrity, who do you think RTs your post and sends it to Facebook or wherever? Other Celebrities?… Nope!.. It’s The Little People. Meanwhile, what the commoners are SAYING is that you’re a JERK and you’re nothing like you present yourself to be online. The next time you pull the same stunt, the word goes out again, and again and again until people accept rumor as fact that you’re an actor and what you say online is as valid as “Fake Steve Jobs”.
Also.. I’m not saying to pay attention to commoners because it’s good public relations. I’m saying that the respect or disrespect that you show your audience IRL is way more important than writing something on the internet. I met this chick one time that’s very talented and I’m a fan of hers, but when I introduced myself to her, she didn’t even say what her name was. That was lame enough as-is, but she’s a performer. It’s her *JOB* to put her name out in public so people come to her shows and buy her media. I was like “How lame is this chick that she’s not even pubbing herself when a commoner (s far as SHE knows) walks up to her and says ‘Hello’?”. As talented as she is, her IRL presentation SUCKED and I immediately became an un-fan. Not of her media, but way more importantly, of her as a person.
Brand Yourself Consistently
Everything I do has my name on it.
It’s completely astounding to me that these so-called Social Media Experts EPICALLY FAIL at branding themselves consistently, which is probably the MOST BASIC thing they should be doing. Anybody you see branding themselves as BillCammack and TheBillCammack and TheRealBillCammack and BillC and BCammack and BConline and TwitterBill and BlipTVCammack and SocialBill and BillYahoo and YoutuBill IS. A. *******. IDIOT! Dead up, they’re IDIOTS! 😀
Select ONE NAME and stick to it. Select ONE AVATAR and stick to it. Select ONE GRAVATAR and stick to it. Don’t make people guess who wrote something or guess how to find you when the next major platform is launched. Make sure you have a Google Profile so your name shows up under a basic Google search, even if you don’t have any props for your actual blog or site.
Stop Padding Your Stats
Originally (and I wasn’t down with Twitter when it first started, but I believe my account is three years old now), the number of people following you on Twitter meant something because there was no reason for people to follow people whose opinions they didn’t care about.
Once it became a status symbol to have more Twitter followers than someone else, people started padding their stats. They way they did this was to follow anybody that wrote anything on the general timeline. We all knew who was doing this because they were pretty much following twice the number of people that were following them, or to put it another way, for every two RANDOM PEOPLE that they followed, one person was following them back.
This is how some people got high numbers of Twitter followers and came to be regarded as influential when they really aren’t. The evidence of this is when they do a call to action and their tens of thousands of “followers” only yield fewer than 100 visitors to their live stream or fewer than 10 comments on their blog post.
What these people didn’t count on was that they would eventually be judged by PASSIONATE followers instead of RANDOM followers. They didn’t expect that Twitter was going to create lists based on relevance to a particular industry or topic. They didn’t realize that adding a bunch of randoms was going to make them look like what they were… People thad added a bunch of people JUST to entice those people to add them back.
Eventually, Twitter caught on to this and shuttered that behavior. Unfortunately, the next big thing was the Twitter Suggested User List (SUL), which lots of people rode to fame and glory, ending up with hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers because everyone who created a new account after that was offered to auto-follow everyone on that list with the click of one button.
The reason y’all need to stop this is because you look dumber instead of smarter having all these “followers” that you can’t convert into anything useful for yourself or your clients. You would be way better off building relationships online or offline with people and adding them because you actually want to hear what they have to say and because you feel that their opinions are valuable to you.
Having said that.. There are lots of people with high follower counts who DIDN’T pad their stats and instead followed BACK everyone that already followed them. Again, these people were obvious because their follower/following ratio remained 1:1 while you could watch the padders stay WAAAAAAAY ahead of their followER count with their followING count while they were building their “community”.
Put Up or Shut Up
It’s not impressive to be able to utilize new technology. It’s impressive to utilize new technology WELL. Nobody cares if you can broadcast via Ustream or Qix live from your smartphone if you’re a boring person and the place you happen to be is as boring as you are. The ROI to your client isn’t in knowing that they CAN use new technology but rather in finding out WHEN and HOW they should use it. The more you upload GARBAGE to your YouTube, Ustream, Vimeo, & Blip accounts, the more clueless you make yourself look.
On top of that, you’re not providing actual ROI to your clients. You’re providing them something to go OOH and AAH about so that they waste their money hiring you to do NOTHING for them because you SUCK at Social Media. Instead of merely showing them that the tools exist, show them what they can do with the tools, why they should use them and when and how they SHOULDN’T use them. Show them with concrete examples of your skillz, which should exist somewhere on your site being that you’re a Social Media Expert, right?
If you’re offering web design services to your clients, your websites had BETTER be pretty good-looking, right? O_o If you’re offering video editing services, you should have examples of videos that you’ve edited, right? If you’re supposed to be on-air-talent, you should have samples of shows that you were on, right?
Trust & Believe that you’re not slick. You’re not fooling anybody that actually knows about Social Media with your lack of content to back up your lofty claims. You’re not fooling anybody with your lack of original ideas, regurgitation, retweets, name-dropping and overall poor emulation of a Social Media Guru.
The way this industry works is that people smile in your face and then talk behind your back. What they’re saying behind your back is their honest impression of you. If your IRL presentation is the same as who you claim to be online, you’re golden. If it isn’t congruent, one of these days (or many of these days) you’re going to miss out on a major opportunity because the person you have the opportunity to pitch to TODAY already heard about your incompetence and/or treachery on the back-channel YESTERDAY.
My suggestion is that you stick to what you actually do well and leave the rest of Social Media to the professionals. If you’re not savvy enough to figure out what you don’t do well enough to charge clients for and guarantee a generous ROI, hire an ACTUAL Social Media Expert to tell you who you are and who you aren’t.