There is a quaint notion surrounding social media that ‘everyone is special and every voice matters’.  This viewpoint is a powerful one: that every voice has an equal footing and every one deserves an equal audience.  Every blog post, every tweet, every Scribd and Digg and Delicious item on the net needs a watch.  Needs to be thought over.  Responded to.  Engaged with.

Whether you have a million readers or just a dozen,” goes the refrain, “your voice is just as important.

That’s a very nice, warm and comfortable notion.

But it’s wrong.

The plain truth of it all when it comes to social media for your organization; some people matter, some people don’t.

Okay.  Now that we’ve broken the taboo and put that out there, let me see if I can speak over the din and wailing and gnashing of teeth in order to clarify.

Communications and Marketing do not have unlimited funds and one-on-one relationships can scale only so far.  You want to leverage the network of the people you build relationships with to act as an amplifier for your message and to serve as a qualified filter for information flowing back into the organization.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is a real problem being discussed online, then it doesn’t matter who points it out, you need to act as soon as you can to fix it.  But as anyone in customer relations can tell you, there are legitimate complaints and then there’s whinging, whining and just plain old trolling.  With limited time, money and staff you want to be sure that you don’t get sucked into arguing with every person on the Internet with an opinion and a blog.

Consider: Is the complaint arising from a customer?  Do they speak directly to your customers?  Is there any chance on this great, green earth that they or their audience could EVER be your customer?  No?  Well then shuffle them to the bottom of the queue.  It’s okay.  Really.

When you have a message to communicate, you are looking to get that message as far and wide as you can.  Who do you want delivering that message: a blogger with one hundred readers or a blogger with a hundred-thousand readers?  Or better still, a blogger whose audience consists of several bloggers with a hundred-thousand readers.

You want your message to be in context and to come from someone with credibility on that subject.  Now a blogger like CC Chapman, Chris Brogan or Mitch Joel could blog at length about the benefits of using some brand of organic yarn in knitted goods and a sizable audience would see that message. But I question how many of their readers would actually be interested in, let alone accept their opinion on the matter.  Were I counseling a manufacturer of yarn on social media, I would suggest that a post from Amy at Indigirl holds much more weight than a post from CC, Chris or Mitch.

Talking in the abstract, it’s easy to toss around platitudes about connecting with everyone.  But for anyone with a budget to manage, prioritizing who you connect with is key.

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6 Comments

  1. Good post Rob. I use this analogy often. Blogging, and social media are just like music.

    Everyone wants to be a rock star but most people just plain suck. They don’t have the talent, or discipline to improve their craft. Many give up in frustration and some deluded individuals actually think they are amazing when the rest of us are cringing (remember all those American Idol try outs).

    But the wonderful thing about all forms of new media is that there really some great talented wordsmiths, comedians, journalists and entertainers who now have an outlet and an audience to share their talent with.

    Even better just like watching your friends garage band get better and start playing local clubs and maybe just maybe some day watching them become a rock star is a very cool and rewarding experience. We can all participate now. That is what is truly amazing!

  2. I spent half of the last chunk of my money (I’ve been lengthily unemployed due to lack of health care necessary before I can work) on grabbing a domain name and setting up a full-fledged blog earlier in the year.

    The content was creativity and imagination- sections on TV, books, internet, gaming, etc. as well as a creative writing section and general featured topics that were written to encourage discussion and thought.

    Due to my anxiety disorder, I do not know anyone. Therefore, any “networking” is out the window- I don’t have the ability. So my audience must come from online.

    I’m an author and a former award winning developer, and I cringe when I wander some blogs with their horrific designs and two paragraph posts with four paragraphs worth of spelling and grammar errors. Yet my jaw hits the floor when I see this two paragraph blurb of nothing get dozens of comments- when I can’t even parse through the content to understand what they were saying in the first place!

    Well, I worked on my blog for several months- maybe three or four, and created a visually pleasing design (for now) and began working each day- about 4 hours a day- to create content within the different categories, and create art to go with the posts.

    Then I proceeded to spread the links on Facebook and Twitter- Twitter being the best, as you can hit the top trends when they apply (i.e. Post on Michael Jackson’s overhyping after his death, put the link up often whenever MJ’s name hits the trend: Perfect match to the audience.)

    I started watching my analytics, and I’d average 10-12 people a day, and NO ONE would comment. I swear I could have put a post up about how great Hitler was, and no one would have said “boo”.

    What I came to learn is that if you do not have money to buy advertisements in BIG places or in mass form, you’re too late to the blogging game. Quality of content, which I had in spades above the other sites I visited, has no relevance to the equation. If you don’t have money, you need to have that network of friends/colleagues… or be a celebrity of sorts.

    It’s really unfortunate that there’s so much noise out there online now, because blogging was one hope I had as a possible career that I can actually perform with my anxiety disorder. Instead, I have to write it off as another thing that can’t be done unless you’re charmed with the right circumstances.

  3. Rob Clark

    Jaym, I have to disagree with your conclusions that money and/or existing celebrity are requisits to succeed in blogging or any other social channel. Both certainly give a healthy kickstart, but neither can stem the churn if the site is vapid and empty. The reason the two sentence blurb recieves a long string of comments is that the site has grown into a hub for discussion and camradarie. It serves as a common meeting ground for people of like mind to gather and discuss an issue. Rather than deride them, I would suggest studying them to see just how they managed the transition from deliverer of information into social landmark. I know you feel that networking is not possible for you, but again I disagree with you. You’ve left a comment here on this blog. That’s a connection. That’s all that it takes. Now it’s up to you to decide whether to foster that connection or to let it break again. Layer one connection upon another and eventually you’ve got a network.

  4. I love the title of this post. We primarily use our blog as the landing page for our email marketing or twitter updates. Overall, it isn’t that special and we know it. Do we want to make it special? Yes, but with a new corporate site on the horizon and our supplier (www.edealer.ca) well indexed on the SERP’s we know once we help to prop up the new site. So even if your not special and no one knows, that isn’t a reason to stop adding relevant content that someone might one day see. A great post today is still very relevant to someone who reads and likes it one year from now because to them it still might be fresh.

  5. We spoke about this story in this week’s podcast (http://www.averagejoeshow.com/average-joe-show-056-reading-is-fundamental/). The main think we spoke about in the show is that a blog has to have sincerity. Don’t create a blog just to try and make a quick buck with banner ads on the page. Content is king. Period. If you are passionate about that you are talking about you will have someone following you. And even if you don’t have any followers when you start your blog it’s a great launching bad to brush up on your blogging skills. The passion will come through in the end and others will see that and follow what you say.

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