So you feel compelled to establish or enhance an online presence that will hopefully make you boatloads of cash. Well, if that’s the case, there’s something to be said for knowing your limitations. Because millions of people are trying to do this and a tiny population: I think at last count: six - were making any money at all. You actually have a better shot at selling high-end swimming pool toys in Afghanistan than making money on the web.
Horseshit you say? “If you were standing in front of me right now Chamberlain I’d punch you in the throat for being such a downer” you say?
Excellent. I like the cut of your jib. Read on.
In 1968, the always controversial and far-from-cuddly, Ayn Rand spoke before a group in New York City regarding her first literary financial success, The Fountainhead. Love or hate the old broad, she had a phenomenal knack for cutting through the bullshit and attracting people like her fictional protagonists: unconventional, highly intelligent and psychotically sure of themselves and their selfish life’s path. In her talk she said the following:
It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature - and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life it’s meaning - it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or the Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls.
Yeah, a little on the heavy and cynical side, but you get the point. There’s always going to be someone that makes it by thinking they’re above it all courtesy of talent or dumb luck. Why the hell shouldn’t you be the former if you’re willing to step up to the plate and bring to fruition what you have to offer? Social media with all it’s assorted permutations has made it possible for ideas, brands and products to find audiences. And sometimes those audiences can be huge and sometimes those audiences will have their wallets open. But rarely does it come easy. You need to sincerely believe in your talent/business/client and leave it all on the field to have the best odds of achieving success. Unless you’re moderately famous and we’re talking the “unauthorized” release of a sex tape - which really seems to fast track one’s brand.
A little story: I was part of a panel that was assembled to discuss “Social Media, PR and Web Technology”. It had been sometime since I sat on a panel and I had forgotten about the emotional impact a live audience can inflict. As the evening wore on, the majority of my fellow panelists clumsily followed their corporate scripts of self-promotion and non-applicable information. I watched people in the audience grow dissatisfied and in some cases, just get up and leave. It was at this point where I felt responsible and determined that these people were going to get a chuckle or two and at the very least, leave with a useful URL.
After the panel, I convened over drinks with the event organizer and the only fellow panel member who got my respect (who I would be honored if she accepted my invitation to contribute to this blog). We all lamented how this field sometimes appears to have already jumped the shark. How agencies are telling clients what they want to hear. How people artificially inflate their number of followers and how the only people that get paid to talk about social media are people whose social media experience is that which they’ve amassed primarily to sell a book and buttress their half-assed consulting business. As the second glass of Cab met it’s demise, I began to ramble on about projects I started for fun and how they were the ones that really took off. A couple of days later my new panelist friend paid me the greatest professional compliment I have ever received in an email that contained the following line:
Speaking with you was a reminder about one of the reasons I got started in this business - to have fun and entertain people.
And that dear readers, is the secret to this social media crap: have fun and entertain people. Remember, Zuckerberg built Facebook to get chicks, not create a B2C web platform to sell Ford Fusions. So when you feel stressed about reversing negative trends in your site analytics, executing a well thought out content strategy or “engaging the customer”; pour/spark yourself a drink/joint and remind yourself that your job is just to pump out great entertainment, information and/or value on a regular basis in the hope a few people follow you religiously. And if you’re really good, you’ll be able to smartly marry those followers to your brand and reap the benefits.