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September 19th, 2011

How To See the Invisible

Many generations ago, long before Blackberries and Starbucks, there was a time when we could only interact with other people while they were still alive.

Things now are not so simple.

First, writing was invented; then television, and now the web.

The whole environment has changed, but our brains have not. We are still made for jungles and savannahs but we interact more with iPhones and computer screens than anything else. Surely, this has had an impact.

A long time ago, the only things we interacted with that we couldn’t see were ghosts and gods. Now, we interact with more invisible people than we ever have. What happens as a result of this is indescribably complex and will likely take generations to truly understand. Marshall McLuhan figured a bit of it out, but media keeps changing, so it’ll take much more than that.

But there’s something else. This is the first generation when most of us have interacted so much with our own media. We used to think of Dan Rather as exemplifying trust. We believed in his story, had faith in his myth. But now it’s ourselves we’re seeing on a screen. What happens then?

I know that when I interact with a blogger or a celebrity of any kind, I am interacting with a blurry, half-constructed version of a person, with only what I’ve read or seen to base the interactions on. I engage with the construct instead of the person, and only later discover who the real person is. I know people do this with me too– I can see it by the emails I receive.

My question is this: are we starting to believe our own myths? Is producing, and watching our own media leading us to believe the images we create? I don’t know the answer, but I do have a feeling about it.

Comments on blogs lead us to interact with people who believe in our myth.

We get calls from media talking to us as though we are experts instead of people.

This was rare before. Now it happens to more of us than ever.

What happens now? I don’t know, but I believe that what we need more than ever is to see through our own bullshit, as well as everyone else’s.

School will not teach us this. Our government will not tell us either. It is up to us.

We need to build a resource that will show us what our own lies really are.

* Filed by Julien at 11:32 am under social media
* 31 Comments

September 15th, 2011

NEWSFLASH: This isn't my little fucking pony

Tweeting is not a business model.

Rainbows and unicorns will not cut it.

The universe doesn’t care about you. Its natural state is to want to wipe you off the planet. You are temporary. In fact, for a large portion of the planet, you are food.

Is social media is the new real estate? Everyone’s in it, and no one can lose.

Or can they? Hours of your life, attempting to get attention to stuff that isn’t even that interesting in the first place. Why?

Give up on hope and luck. Abandon faith in yourself. Have faith only in the system. (Don’t have one? Try this.)

Yesterday I was asked in an interview whether “passion” was enough of a business model on the internet. The picture on the right is my answer.

Don’t let me catch the rest of you talking like this. This is war, and I will personally eat your fucking heart.

* Filed by Julien at 9:37 am under rant, social media
* 35 Comments

March 20th, 2011

Imagine a Giant iPhone with Everything On It

The world is a lot like a giant iPhone.

On the iPhone, like in the world, everything is media that passes through the screen. Some apps on the iPhone are like television and professionally produced. Others are kind of ghetto but deeply interesting to a few people. Both are successful in their own way.

On this giant iPhone where everything is media, all conversation (like Twitter or text messages) can be understood as being extremely targeted content. It’s created by one person, for one person. So it passes through the screen and hits the eyeball, just like television, but it works because it is applicable only to a few people. So those people find it interesting and others ignore it.

For example, Gary Vaynerchuk succeeds on Twitter because he is creating highly personal media in the form of responses. It is as targeted as media can be, because it is a genuine conversation. This would not work on television because you have to be present to wait for your name (like the birthday shout-outs in Romper Room).

So the more targeted an app is, the more interesting it is to the group or individual in question, and the less interesting to the population at large. The funnier something is to a subculture, the less funny it tends to be to the regular population (see: 4chan).

All good media is targeted. All good conversation is therefore also targeted.

Bad media, as a corollary, is like a bad conversation. It is untargeted, neither interesting nor surprising. It is like Kraft Singles– you’ll take it if it’s there, but you’d rather have pretty much anything else.

As a creator, the purpose of your channel is to create media that is as interesting as possible to the population at large while also creating conversational media that is briefly interesting to one person, over and over again. This is why sales letters always start with “Dear friend.”

This is also why Facebook and Google are the ultimate media. Google involves you in content that you are interested in at that very moment, and Facebook hooks you up with conversations by people you know, and are probably interested in, at that very moment. Highly targeted.

Anyway, this iPhone has everything on it, so the only way to compete with Angry Birds (or whatever) is to be as targeted as possible. Twitter does this better than Facebook right now because it shows you when people are talking about you and you can ignore it otherwise. Inside of Twitter and most social media, the best way to do that is with conversation (Twitter spam tries to subvert this process, actually.)

Social in general is the best way to get someone’s attention. It is about them, so of course it’s deeply interesting. But it’s best to view conversation as highly targeted media, and bad media as being like a bad conversation.

The real problem is that television has a model wrapped around the content. Conversation does not. Or does it.

Anyway, if this iPhone has infinite choice (and it does), your strategy should be obvious.

This idea is both simple and complicated, and I’m still trying to figure it out, but it’s clear enough that I can write this. Enjoy.

* Filed by Julien at 10:31 am under social media
* 10 Comments

February 28th, 2011

5 Effective Ways to Use Twitter to... ahhh fuck it

So unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard at least one success story some idiot journalist wrote about how Twitter can do amazing things for some moron’s business or whatever.

Well it’s all true, and even better, if you follow these instructions, this moron could be YOU.

Now I know this stuff may not be easy to believe– after all, Twitter just looks like a totally useless piece of crap from where you’re standing, but trust me, when you see the power of it you’re going to shit yourself. Anyone– and I mean anyone– anyone can get their bullshit popular on this stupid thing. You gotta see it with your own two eyes.

Basically all these people think you’re their internet friends or whatever, even though you’re just a company, and then after a while they’ll just send out your shit because they think y’all are friends… with a COMPANY. lol.

I know, It’s unbelievable. I think it’s crazy too.

So anyway stop sitting on the sidelines watching douchebags promote their crap on this new thing… it’s time you got your self-promoting asses on there and started ruining this new technology for everyone too.

Check this out

You can basically pay to get a bunch of followers, and then everyone on Twitter think you’re all popular and follow you too. And these are REAL people. It’s some seriously amazing shit because, in real life, you would need actual customers to convince others. But here, you can just get a bunch of numbers and then you’ve got this great thing going from the comfort of your own couch.

Even better is that all these tools will totally just retweet your stuff– basically sell all your shit to their friends, for free! That’s why this piece of crap is even better than Amway– on Twitter, you don’t have to pay anyone!

All because of the magic of “social capital,” whatever that is. Seriously I think that’s a made up word, but who cares, that shit works!

How sick is that

Anyway, I want you to go to twitter.com, create an account right now, and then put in an avatar, but not your company name or anything– put a smiling face in there! Everybody loves smiling faces, plus according to some good books about manipulating people, they really draw the eye and shit. Then you can totally get people believing that you care! I know, crazy right?

So after that you’re going to get on there and be all “let’s be friends” and shit. You do this by talking to all these idiots– get this, you’re going to lose it when you hear this– by talking to them about OTHER SHIT. Not even your own bullshit products, but by butting into their stupid conversations and adding your own opinion… I’m serious, you can totally do this and they’re all like “oh, thanks” and they totally don’t know you’re marketing to them. And then, BAM!

Hook, line, and sinker

It’s up to you from here! Remember, create compelling content and you’ll entice people to… ahhh, you know what, fuck this, I’m outta here.

* Filed by Julien at 12:00 pm under humour, parody, projects, social media
* 42 Comments

February 23rd, 2011

How to Survive the Social Crash

I have to leave the house right now so I’m going to publish this post early. It is not polished, but I think the ideas are strong. If that means it gets ignored, whatever.

I am not a real investor– just a writer who wants to survive from one bubble to the next.

But today, I am pretty confident a social crash is coming. Whether you agree or not, it’s important that you read this.

We think all of this social stuff is building value for us– building wealth for some and just well-being for others. This is somewhat true– but I suspect we are overvaluing what it can do for us– most of us anyway.

It is true that there is a massive population going social online, but this growth might just be building value for established companies like Facebook. A few of us are making money off of it, but many people are at the bottom of this pyramid and will be left without anything to show for it at the end.

Because most people are not financially invested in this space, the bubble will not leave people broke. But it will leave people thinking they’ve wasted a few years of their lives.

If you’re like most people, you did not start here early, which means you’re closer to the bottom of the pyramid than the top. So it’s possible you’re being had.

But I want you to avoid this, and I will endeavour here to show you how.

But first, why.

“Friends” are valueless. Well, maybe. I’ve written before that audience is an asset, but is it really? Most of your “friends” on Facebook, if you’re a typical social media douche, will never do anything for you except social proof your popularity, an effect which is blunted over time anyway as more people realize the reality of the situation.

I view the hyperinflation of friends the same way I see the valuation and false growth of companies based on inflated/purchased ComScore traffic stats. They convince those with money to spend, or those not savvy enough to tell the difference. But eventually valuations become so unreasonably high that they are unbelievable to even the uneducated.

This collective “A-ha!” moment is when the bubble bursts. It’s when we all call bullshit on online friends, comments, and connections as a reason to know someone– online, that is.

Most startups have no business model. I worked for a startup in the late 90′s with a great idea but no business model or revenue (it was an early Google Maps type thing). It was very interesting but the decline was evident. The model was clearly to get bought.

I had a discussion with an angel/VC type the other day who is very smart. I asked him why people do this instead of, say, real estate. One of his answers was “ego.”

I think another may be that people now feel that anyone can do it. This collective sentiment is based on watching regular guys be able to develop massive followings, but it’s common to all bubbles to find an “anyone can do it” mentality. Think housing, dot-com, and many others.

Everyone is looking for the “next” Facebook or Twitter. This is probably the question I get the most often from conference attendees, as many of you probably know. Possibly many of you are looking for it or are trying to build it. God bless you and I hope you do well.

But it’s likely that the “next” anything will not be social at all.

What’s really interesting is that Facebook, Twitter, etc actually benefit from this inflation. Their valuations are not public and therefore don’t impact the public at large, but those of us inside here will definitely feel it, especially if we work in the space.

Now to the next question. How do you avoid a crash?

You must exit. This means convert to cash.

Your assets must be diversified. You cannot sit there with your Twitter expertise– you, and your company, must do more.

Your assets must be real. They must be outside this space– or if they’re in it, they must provide actual profit.

If you do not have the ability to do any of these things, your personal stock may plunge– soon.

There are those who know how to really turn networks into an income stream, by the way. They are called SALESPEOPLE.

Do you consider yourself a salesperson? This is not most of us. Most people are anxious about turning weak ties into money, but for some, it may be necessary.

So your options are to step out, or to learn to create value from what you have built by stretching your social contract to include selling to them.

Final note. During the dot-com bubble, some very interesting people emerged. I think of Frank Schilling, who is quoted as saying that, after the dot-com crash, everyone just went back to using the internet every single day. And this is where Frank picked up over 300,000 dropped, and valuable, domain names– while everyone thought they were valueless.

Now, he lives in the Cayman Islands earning… well, let’s just say a lot.

There will always be people who survive crashes, or who grab undervalued assets and use them effectively to make a killing, one way or another.

But there are many more people who think “everything will be fine” and who walk along with people all the way off the cliff.

The choice as to which kind you will be, of course, is yours.

* Filed by Julien at 11:18 am under risk, social media, strategy
* 48 Comments

February 4th, 2011

The Future of Blogs is Paid Access

Update: Aaron Wall left an epic comment here which adds significantly to the discussion. Click here to see it (it’s #55).

Pay attention. This will be on the test.

I remember having a conversation with Chris, sitting in Café Méliès in Montreal one time, talking about business. We had an idea for a private forum. This was a few years ago, I think– maybe even before the book.

We would base is on Aaron Wall’s private SEO community, base it on our expertise in social media etc. We’d split whatever money we made, pay any blogger who wanted to be an affiliate. The idea was simple, but good and scalable. It would make a lot of money if we did it right. So we called Brian Clark– he was doing Teaching Sells at the time. He said, “Good stuff. I’m in.”

The joke is, Chris and I never did it… at least, not in that format. :)

Much later, Third Tribe would be released– pretty much the same thing we talked about. Good on Brian for actually having the initiative. :) Aaron Wall’s forum would increase in price, from $100 to $300 per month (still a good value IMHO) and continue to grow. Chris would launch Kitchen Table Companies and other private communities of the same type.

This is now old news. Or is it?

Except I’ve been talking to Mark O’Sullivan at the exceptional Vanilla Forums, who says that big web personalities are asking him about private forums for their sites. I’ve been interviewing Brett Rogers, who funds his documentaries partially by having people come along on his adventures. And I’ve just started working with Martin Berkhan, who can’t handle the flood of questions people ask him about his workout and nutrition methods because they seem to work so well.

What is there was a solution to this? I think there is. But let’s veer off for a second.

I think you can lead an exceptional life, market yourself correctly, and the life itself will help pay its own way.

Something big changed with the web. We could create personal brands, broadcast ourselves for free, and create a following. Except if we got popular, we started not being able to pay attention to everyone anymore. This is normal.

I’m thinking of Richard Nikoley. His (successful) experiment with not washing his hair for two years has led to articles in the Chicago Tribune and other places. He can’t handle the emails he gets anymore. Also Chris Guillebeau, who recently got 800 comments on a post he put out.

As Aaron Wall has said, popularity is an inequality between supply and demand. You solve it by raising price.

Books and conferences are price points– they are old methods that people are used to and don’t flinch at. I use both, and they work well. But there’s a problem with them.

Middlemen take over the old methods. They live as parasites off what you and I produce. Many of them do it without adding any value whatsoever.

There is something missing from Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans method. It is fine for artists, for producers of actual artifacts, artists, etc. This is one reason Seth Godin’s Domino Project is so interesting. It cuts middlemen out. But it still requires the creation of an artifact… of a product.

What if YOU were the product?

I believe that what people want when they read your book, when they come to see you speak, or sing, or when they buy art from you– I believe that what they actually want is you.

This method has worked for authors before. Gary Vee and Tim Ferriss basically sold 1-on-1 time with them in exchange for bulk book purchases. This has the advantage of making them look big to a mainstream audience, but the end result is the same. People often want them, not the book. Same with all the people I mentioned who do amazing things.

Your audience wants to be a part of your life. Maybe, in some cases, you should let them.

Here is another assertion which I might be a bit shocking.

The future of the web personalities is the monetization of weak ties.

The web naturally creates an ecosystem of micro-stars, like television, but doesn’t necessarily have a way to turn this into a living. If you keep answering emails, forever, you become exhausted and your personal time is sucked out of your life.

The solution is paid access.

Of course, you don’t want to monetize your strong ties. That would be insane. The social norms space stays pure. You don’t pay your wife for the nice dinner she made.

But weak ties, by definition, take more than they give. They do not, as many people say, “pay in terms of attention,” except in huge masses which become unwieldy because of a new kind of demand– bug fixes, emails, etc.

Here is my theory. Once supply and demand of personal access are no longer equal, solving it through price not only helps you maintain a solid personal life but accelerates the process of popularity, by helping you free your time and do cooler shit.

A new stream of income means more freedom, which turns into a more interesting life, which turns into more popularity, which turns into more income, etc. A virtuous circle.

Of course, most of what you do is free and public. That’s one level of access. But I think that you should turn on different levels as well. Everyone in social media right now wants books and speaking gigs. You only get those at a certain level of popularity, but you could turn lesser levels on as well. Forum access, email access, Skype access– any of these could become an income stream for various types of web personalities.

But wait!, I hear you saying. Let’s say some of these weak ties become strong ties! What do we do then? Well, easy. Stop monetizing them. We could call this the dinner party rule– if you’d invite someone to dinner, then they should have free access to you. This impacts the bottom line, but that’s natural with friendships– wanted, even. Besides, friendship is more valuable than $47 a month or whatever.

Help me out here.

Look, this post has already gotten much longer than I thought it would. I could go on forever about this– it’s so logical to me that I could argue it until the cows come home. But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll ask you what you think, and to spread it if you think the idea is interesting or worth talking about. Tweet or subscribe below.

By the way, I don’t know if it’s something I personally want to do– although I’m pretty sure I could. Maybe you could too, once your audience reaches a certain mass. Wouldn’t that be easier than trying to get a frikkin book deal or becoming a social media expert? Besides, I suspect there’s only enough of those to go around.

* Filed by Julien at 11:09 am under business, community, experiments, social media, trends
* 71 Comments

December 7th, 2010

How to triple your Twitter traffic in 7 days

This is an actual traffic graph for my website last week.

Traffic in general increased by 439%. Traffic from Twitter increased by 10 times. I know it sounds like a line straight out of Cash4Gold, but it’s true. I used no special tricks. I did not pull any favours. I did the same amount of work. I actually posted less. All I actually did differently was correct a simple mistake I habitually made without thinking about it. This is a mistake you probably make too, and it’s very simple to fix.

Like me, you probably have a small-to-medium sized blog, with readers from just a few visits a day to several thousand. Like me, you think you’re doing your best, and you aren’t entirely clear on how to improve. Also like me, you feel that “your time will come” or something, and that slow and steady wins the race. Yet another part of you wishes you had a bigger audience right now.

Well, what if you could get both?

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past month studying how good bloggers get traffic to their sites and keep it there. Many of these people, I know personally, but never asked them for advice, and didn’t do what they did.

I went at it my own way. That was stubborn and stupid.

The result was a smaller, less responsive audience… an audience I care about a lot, actually, but with a growth curve that wasn’t satisfying for the work I was putting in. Like you, I work hard on the posts I put out and make sure they’re very interesting, and that’s very satisfying.

But the posts were not working for me. They were throwaways– not investments. They weren’t delivering what I needed once they were out in the wild. To do that, they needed more.

So, here it is. Here is the problem I solved and, along with it, the results.

Stop writing 7/10 posts

Be honest with yourself. Like me, most of your posts are probably pretty boring. The content itself may be fine (I’m very proud of mine), but the way in which they’re delivered is probably kind of dull. Some of my favourite posts on this blog have great content. But they need better delivery.

Examples include All Belief is Religion, which I love but was Facebook liked by no one, and The Privatization of Culture and Illusion of Depth, which is so obscure that it’s a miracle it even got any views at all (mostly from existing subscribers, I’m guessing).

If you’re anything like me, you write your posts, and your titles, with yourself as audience. This results in a majority of posts which rank 6, 7, or 8/10 with the outside world.

Last week, if I didn’t have a 10/10 post, I didn’t publish at all. This resulted in three posts instead of 5-7, and many more subscribers than I’ve gotten in previous weeks combined.

The real breakthrough

Here’s the main thing, though– the real transformation. When I stopped accepting 7/10 posts, I also stopped having 7/10 ideas. I started having 10/10 ideas, and suddenly I started recognizing them, and I suddenly had three in the span of one week.

Much of the difference has to do with titles, as well as opening statements. This post from last week started as You Are Nowhere Near the Edge before I realized I could do better. As a result, it became the most liked, tweeted, and commented-on post in the history of my site. But the content was the same.

But that post wasn’t alone– the whole week was better. I was able to produce writing that will work for me longer than any posts I’ve written in probably the last year. I can only imagine if I’d written posts like this one with this principle in mind.

This realization is frustrating, because it feels like a lot of time and effort was wasted. Fine, but this means you already have a bunch of ideas you can call upon and improve– in my case, this means years of backlog you can work with.

This week helped define what I wanted to be to my audience, and it helped me understand what I wanted this blog to be about. It helped me see what people on Twitter respond to. I had a kind of realization, one in which the content really does market itself, and if it doesn’t, it’s because the delivery is simply not strong enough.

You know this already

What’s nuts about this is that I’m telling you stuff you already know. I knew all of these things going in too. I wrote a bestselling book about the social web, for God’s sake. I would never advise a client to write posts like I did– instead, I would advise them to write things like 23 Snacks For All-Night Gaming, which hit the top of Digg pretty much as soon as it was published, and built audience and links very easily, because that’s what it was designed to do.

But I wouldn’t take my own advice. Why? Because I thought I knew better. And yet, I can look at tons of “social media experts” or whatever and point to all this content that simply does not cut it. But they don’t know how to fix it. They don’t know it’s a mistake because it’s inside their own gates.

You have to push how edgy your content is, and how sticky it is. Add handles, make it more blunt, or appeal more specifically to an audience. Push it closer to the edge. If you do this, it will get retweeted, and linked to, more. Your content deserves this.

At the beginning of this article, I stated that you could triple your traffic from Twitter. Using the stuff stated above, I actually multipled it by 10. So I’m being conservative with this headline, instead of hyperbolic. But think about it this way: Triple the traffic means triple the chance for a subscriber, and triple the chance for a comment. It means triple the chance for a tweet, too. Finally, it means triple your chance to have an impact on the people that need it.

At some point, it may not be necessary, and you can be like Seth Godin and publish whatever you like. Until then, follow this advice. If you feel that this is “below you,” and that you’re better than needing to resort to “cheap tricks,” I suggest you read about the archetypes of the fool and the trickster. Realize that the only way to get speak the truth to power (tell people what they really need to hear) is first by getting them to listen. It’s all fine and good if you want to sit in your corner, but I’d prefer to have a wide reach. I imagine you do too.

So try it. And good luck. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment, and please tweet this out if you feel it’s useful. Thanks. :)

* Filed by Julien at 10:00 am under social media, tips
* 49 Comments

December 1st, 2010

All social media experts "are actually the same person," Wikileaks documents reveal

Candid documents released by Wikileaks on Tuesday have revealed all social media experts to actually be “the exact same individual,” the Guardian reported.

“Paul from Miami,” as he is identified in Wikileaks documents, appears to be the source of an entire industry of Twitter experts who seemingly give the same advice and yet somehow all have over 20,000 Twitter followers each.

“This is unprecedented,” said Jason Falls, a social media expert, in comment. “Like the moon landing and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, how social media experts make money despite all having the same advice has always been guarded at the highest level. Now we finally know the truth. They are all the same person.” It is unclear whether Falls is, himself, “Paul from Miami” or an actual person.

Tensions mounted in the international community as Twitter experts worldwide called to their followers to “trust them.” Amber Naslund, who has actually been seen in person and has a real job, has been vouching for social media experts she “has met in person and knows for sure to be real.” Whether she herself is merely a pawn, or a real social media expert, remains to be seen.

#itsover was seen to be trending on Twitter, as accounts across the world discussed the impending catastrophe. The documents also revealed trust funds, spam, wealthy spouses, and jobs at Starbucks to be the top ways in which those social media experts who are real people pay their bills. Brian Solis, an expert who has been seen in many photographs and is therefore probably real, called for his industry to “engage,” mirroring the advice of many social media experts worldwide. His statement was retweeted by many, casting a spectre of doubt over many Twitter accounts who do all kind of seem to give the same advice, come to think of it.

Traffic to Wikileaks continued to soar despite DDoS assaults as unknown attackers continued to try and take down their servers this morning. “Social media experts could not be responsible for these attacks,” theorized CC Chapman, a content strategist, whatever that means. “Social media experts just don’t know enough about the internet to make it happen,” he concluded.

These allegations, and their implications, shake the very foundation of a nascent industry whose top figures have become well-known consultants and speakers at events around the world, some of which supposedly even happen in person.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange suggested more bombshells might be on the way. Speculation was rampant that “SEO experts” and “marketing gurus” might also all be sourced from a single individual, or worse, be “Paul from Miami” as well. Paranoia is on the rise.

Joseph Jaffe, a known South African social media expert and podcaster, concluded that “joining the conversation” was the only real solution to this dilemma. “We have to flip the funnel and engage, or we will never again be able to build social capital, or be part of the tribe,” Jaffe said, for some reason with a suspiciously American accent.

(With apologies to the Onion and thanks to Jay Baer.)

* Filed by Julien at 8:56 am under humour, social media
* 45 Comments

November 25th, 2010

Haters Gonna Hate

There will always be people that don’t like you. On the web, they just do it more publicly.

If you have never encountered someone who hates on you for what you’ve put on your blog, Twitter, or elsewhere on the internet– trust me, that time will come. It will not be long before someone comes across your site, reads it, and proceeds to try and get your attention by causing a scene or saying something that hurts your feelings.

The bad news is that you have to live with this. The good news is that you can get them to vanish if you ignore them, because they thrive on attention.

Despite this, prominent people on the web continue to give haters attention under the guise that they need to respond to everyone. This is nonsense. We choose who we want to give attention to the same way we reward positive behaviours and discourage negative ones in dogs. We don’t let them “express their personality” if that means they’ll bite us. Instead, we learn how to behave around them in order to get the results we want.

Despite this, haters will continue to come unless you drop off the map entirely. I’m not going to assume that these people are losers (as other people have), but it is clear that none of these people would behave this way in real life. There’s something about the disconnect between sender and receiver, when connected to the ability to read and write to anyone in the world, that can turn people into sociopaths when they’re surfing the web. Or maybe it’s them becoming their true selves, who knows.

The good news is about the web is that you have your own tribe, and you can choose to interact only with them, and never visit anyone else. They say this can lead to narrow political views, which means that you need to compensate by being broad in your search for knowledge elsewhere, but put that aside and you’ve got a good system for making sure no one has their way with you without your consent.

No matter what the size of your audience, you are a kind of micro-star who is, at least, famous for 15 people. So you need to act that way. My favourite example is the one where Tom Cruise gets hit by a squirt gun during an interview. The response is priceless. However you feel about him, his response, “Why would you do that?” is perfect to address the situation.

I remember sending an email back to someone who had left a comment once on my blog. The answer was amazing: “I’m sorry, I was in a really bad mood last night.” Seeing the humanity in the situation worked. Try it.

* Filed by Julien at 6:39 am under social media
* 14 Comments

September 30th, 2010

Running on Empty

When you are building up an asset, you’re either spending time or cash.

Renovating a house requires either your handiwork or someone else’s. Getting a charity off the ground requires legwork or funding. Often a combination of both is required. Sometimes you have more of one than the other, or you have no choice which to use.

But somewhere along the lines of industry, digital, and social, things broke down.

You can pay someone to tweet for you, but consistent participation is expensive and doesn’t work very well if it’s outsourced. Being clever is hard (impossible?) to pay for, but personality plays such an important role that often, it’s best just to do it yourself. You can’t pay to keep passion going, either; instead, it often gets snuffed out just as you’re trying to encourage it by paying for it.

Now, the web might be one of the only places where spending time trumps money. If you don’t care, you’ll drop out. If you get paid, you’ll phone it in. The only thing that will make the grade is to really care about it– only if it’s your ass on the line will you really be able to put in the time. It’s the only reason you’ll care enough to compete.

If it’s just a job, others will out-sweat you. And sweat is what built the web.

10 years ago, the web was expensive, or complex, to work on. Now, infrastructure is in place, so it’s easy. The only remaining factor, the one that can’t be bought or commoditized, is the human one.

Robots will get faster. Information will get faster. But human will stay human. That is why you must put your effort there.

I could be wrong, but don’t bet on it.

* Filed by Julien at 8:53 am under challenge, random, social media
* 4 Comments