Clay Shirky, is someone who “get’s it” in a big way. Take 8 minutes to watch this.
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A-listers, movie stars, superstars and rockstars, every industry has them. Including ours. Social media, PR and Marketing. We love to worship them don’t we? We watch their every move. We’re fascinated by them. The only thing they might lack are the paparazzi and a posse. There’s just something about what they say and do and write that mesmerizes us. (Cue the chorus of angels) We have decided by our adoration that they hold the keys to the kingdom and thus we need and have decided to quote them and listen to them and follow them whenever we can. Is it wise? Seriously. Is it?
Admit it, you’d take some of that “rockstar” love if it was thrown your way. By that, I mean if you became an A-lister yourself, you wouldn’t turn down the title. Additionally, If they showed interest in you, or talked to you-you’d take that “bounce effect” as well, in a heartbeat. Hell, it might be why we all blog. We want what they got. It’s just that some of you might not admit it. It’s Ok. It’s not why I blog but the residual effect of the blog has certainly brought some notoriety with it that I was not prepared for, and thus I’m not going to reject it.
When you get right down to it, and where I might be in the social media food chain, I think I might be a J or K lister. And while we’re on the subject, lets ask ourselves why we are blogging. That’s right you- “Mr. or Ms. Stranger that I don’t know yet I trust more than an advertiser”. You, The New influencer, What is your endgame goal here? Is it to be a new influencer? To be a difference maker? A game changer?
Lets back up though. That’s not the sole purpose of this post. The duel purpose is to figure where we should place the A-listers in the social media food chain. Lets ask ourselves who’s eating who here? For example: I recently asked at one conference whether advertisers realized the influence that A-listers have just in the Twitter-sphere. I didn’t really get an answer to that. My point: Twitter followers look for A-listers, follow them immediately, and then jump all over those A-lister quality tweets. And why?
So let’s ask ourselves. What, if any, value or credence should we place with an A-lister when they utter anything? Be it in a micro-blogging platform, a conference, a blog post, a book, an e-book or a podcast. I know some have a body of work that certainly can belie their status. Others, are a tad bit more fuzzy. But even then, we have to be careful and we have to be selective of what we choose to listen to.
I say we read the menu, sample what you want, chew on what tastes good, and digest what will stay down.. Their’s is not the only restaurant serving something hot.
A couple of days ago, Mack Collier wrote about why he enjoyed the SMBU more than SXSW because it was more of a teaching gig than it was a big “look at me” Rockstar, fest. and frankly, I’m down with that. In fact, if I think back on the last 6 speakers I’ve listened to at various engagements, 4 of them had the same M O.
You see, we’re all guilty of our own MO or modus operandi, as well. Ours might look something like this: We show up at a conference, and wait for “the name” or the “A” lister to talk. When they take the stage, we sit on the edge of our chair, try to tweet something sharp and clever and original and game changing that he or she might say in their slotted time. Then we watch them hustle through their slides and then.. . they answer 4 questions, and poof, they’re done. I know thats not always the case but bear with me.
We then sit there with a few thoughts: They are: “Have I just seen the second coming? Or, WTF was that?” Or, “Did I get anything out of that just now?” Or maybe, “I can’t believe he or she really looks and sounds like that”. All the while the A-lister has stepped off the side of the stage into a throng of social media, marketing or PR groupies. At which point, the exalted one” answers maybe 1 or 2 more questions while 15-20 others hope that he or she looks their way. It’s at this point that I might shake my head, mumble something to the effect, “when is a speaker going to learn how to at least properly close their talk with something other than, “well it looks like my time is up, thanks.” Perhaps they should read Rohit’s blog post about how to avoid being a bozo when presenting?
In closing, I see that my time is up. But here’s your takeaway. There are a lot of people to listen to in this space. Some of them are not even close to being A-listers, and you know what? They still know their stuff. Maybe even more than the A-listers. Chances are, the A-listers might even be pulling their thoughts and content from them. It’s up to you to decide who you engage. Step back and decide why you are listening to them. Is it because “everyone” else is? Or because they make sense to you. If that’s the case, then stay the course. One last thought: If you’re blogging and you have a dedicated following, you might just realize that you are a thought leader yourself and not a follower of a social media A-lister with clay feet. And there ain’t nuthin wrong with that.
I wrote something down 2 weeks ago. Gary Vaynerchuck gave a keynote at web 2.0 expo in NYC and mentioned it and it’s still resonating with me. Ari Herzog, whos blog posts I’m enjoying more and more, blogged about it last week. And today, on September 29th 2008 it makes as much sense to me now than anything I’ve heard over the last few days let alone weeks and months. What is it? it’s this:
I wish I could have thought of that. I know some of you are saying this right now-“Dude, do you have any idea of the financial straits I’m in?” Trust me, there are very few people right now who are not hurting, I get that. But the point of me letting you in on Gary’s point is this.
Times like these, lend themselves to people who can help others. Times like these allow people to really share their knowledge with those who can benefit the most from it. For example, If you’re on the tech, or marketing side of the house, do you have any idea how much or how valuable the things you do or can do, are needed right now? The things, the actions, that you leave behind in your life will be greater than the money you made and the money you’ve accumulated. Your legacy, your footprint is more important.
Your legacy right now can be defined by what you do in the next 12-24 months. If you start today to define it. You can either complain or bemoan the current state of affairs or you can try and do something that can make a difference in your life which can inherently make a difference in others. It’s up to you. Are you going to take? Or are you going to give? It doesn’t have to be a lot. But reach out to someone and help them out. They really need it right now.
When I was a kid most coaches and teachers used to tell me to be a leader and not a follower. Amazing how we manage to find ourselves saying the same thing to each successive generation. Why? because it makes sense. But does it? I immediately think of the old saying, “too many chiefs and not enough indians”. Ok so now we should all be confused. Which should we be? Do we need more indians or more chiefs? Rachel Happe brings up a great point in her post about The Wisdom of The Crowd in which she writes:
Crowds without leadership and inspiration are not necessarily better or worse than individuals. But a crowd can become both more than the sum of its parts and less than its lowest common denominator depending on how it is inspired.
What this means to me is that although I might want you to be a leader, you might be better suited to be a follower. Some people are born leaders and some are born followers and some can become…. etc etc. However, in social media and Web 2.0, if we’re to look at the whole thing holistically, the space reeks of the “follower mentality”. Too many people as I said in an earlier post are inclined to be of the “echo mindset”. They possess zero original thought. I’m not sure they are even actually participating in the conversation to be honest. To this end, they are not leaders, and they are shitty followers. So they bring nothing to the table. Period.
Don’t follow the crowd. Initially, I thought that he was saying that most people were stupid–and I agreed with him. But I now realize that he was telling me not to follow the crowd because the crowd “mentality” can make smart people do dumb things. This is why I don’t believe in the “wisdom of the crowd” to this day.
Given the current state of all things political and economic, perhaps what we really need is original thought and not noise that has a new tread on it. I know it’s easy to just put some lipstick on the pig, forgive me for using the analogy, but try to step out from under the umbrella and look at things in the social media and web 2.0 world differently. I don’t need you to be a though leader or a follower, I just need you to think.
I can’t tell how many times I’ve written about this, but for me, this topic is the key driving metric in whether a social media campaign is successfull or not. I had planned on writing about something else this morning and literally had only been reading a few blogs when I came across an interview by Amber Naslund for Marketing Profs in which she interviews Kodak’s Corporate Media Relations Manager Krista Gleason and Chief Blogger Jenny Cisney to find out why their social media program is so valuable to their business, and how they’ve defined success.
It’s an interesting interview but check out this question on ROI. I have to give mad props to Amber for asking the question in the first place, because I think it gets to the heart and soul of social media marketing.
Q: How do you define your “ROI” from involvement with social media? Krista:
- Feedback from readers and customers via the blogs and email
- Invitations to speak at top-tier conferences, including BlogWorld and BlogHer
- Links to our blogs from other blogs and online articles
- Recognition from social media experts, like Mario Sundar and Debbie Weil, and traditional media, like Business Week
- Awards: Earlier this year Kodak won three awards for our blogs—the PRSA Bronze Anvil, American Business Award (Stevie Award), and an Interactive Media Award
Her answer entails everything that would involve branding and exposure and face time and has nothing to do with making actual money. She is not selling anything. Her ROI is measured, but it’s measured by the interaction. The money aspect takes care of itself in it’s own way, but for Krista, ROI in her world is measured by the quality and depth and reach of her social media engagements.
Some would say that if she’s not making money then there is no ROI. Would you agree with that or disagree? What do you think her efforts have done for the Kodak brand?
*Then, lets end on Ambers post of 6 things she learned from Kodak and look at #6
6. ROI isn’t always about direct revenue.
No, I’m not saying social media shouldn’t HAVE an ROI. But I took notice that, on Kodak’s list of social media ROI, not one of them cited any dollar figures. It’s about building relationships, building your brand, and making people want to learn more about you. These are the things that drive revenue for your company over the long term, even if it’s a meandering path.
David Parmet recently wrote a post that should be required reading for all of us in the social media space, for all of us on the outside looking in and for those of us who want to pretend that we are playing in the space. You see, David wants us to set our sights a bit higher.
He cites Shel Israel’s post about social media becoming a vast wasteland which I won’t go as far to say as being the case, but I can see why he said it. David also mentions Tim O’Reilly’s key note at Web 2.0 expo NYC which I attended, in which O’Reilly muses “And what are the best and the brightest working on?” displaying a slide of the Facebook app SuperPoke, which invites you to, “throw sheep” at your friends. Essentially asking, is this what we have been reduced to?
The point being it’s time for more, we need to stretch our collective muscles amongst the group. I have to agree with David that seeing another “How to with Twitter or another “6 steps to conquer your fear of Friendfeed”, or whatever, is not going to do us any good. Especially when we are essentially talking amongst ourselves. I mean that in the sense that the readers of our blogs, are in general, industry types.
Which essentially means that the social media echo comes right back at us. But then it is spread by other N00bs who want in on the game and thus spread the same thing that we already have heard and already have come to learn. And it comes back to us. We’re seeing a push of info that is the “same-ole, same-ole”. Nothing new, just a push, that is spread virally.
So let me ask you.
Don’t be a me too person. There is way too much under the social media hood here. We need leaders not followers.
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