I don’t rant much on this blog. But I’m about to…so if you’re not in the mood, then you might as well mark this one read. If you don’t mind, though, I’m going to speak my mind on this one, because it’s bugging me.
I’ve been noticing some disturbing trends on my travels around the Internetz lately. There seems to be a lot of scrambling going on. People seem rather preoccupied with trying to be the next, big, popular thing. Some are trying to elbow their way to the top of the blogosphere. Others are hacking together web applications faster than you can say “cloud computing”. Still others are using the number of Twitter followers they have as some kind of currency, declaring some sort of social media bankruptcy if they discover that a so-called A-lister has stopped following them.
I sign up for one web app after another, hoping to find what it is that’s going to be new and different and great about this one. I watch as the same “Top Ten Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Social Media” fly around on people’s blogs. I sit back and watch inane, petty conversations taking place about what so and so said or whose follow list is bloated.
Now, of course, I’m not talking about ALL blogs, ALL applications and ALL online conversations. Of course, there are still many, many excellent, amazing, thought provoking things going on – otherwise I’d have checked out long ago.
Those who know me know I’m not one to b$%tch and complain about stuff without providing something positive.
So, to those who insist on beating a dead horse, talking in the same circles, and thinking that simply building it means people will come, I offer some positive advice.
Be a Problem Solver. Building something just because you can is no reason to build it. Building something that 100 other people have already done is no reason to build it (Unless you know can build it far better). I see plenty of web applications around that are designed to solve problems that nobody has. Want to build the next great web application? Look around you. Find something that bugs you. Find out if it’s bugging other people too. Then build something that fixes it.
Be Original. There are times when it’s good to be a bandwagon jumper. For instance, if someone is promoting a worthwhile charity then by all means, get on that bandwagon – shout it from the rooftops, blog about it, Retweet to your heart’s content. No worthy cause ever suffers from too much promotion and attention. HOWEVER…is there really any need to re-hash the same content over and over again? It’s fine to talk about the impact social media is having in the business world. But I want to hear your own take on it. If I want to hear what Seth has to say about it, he’s got an abundance of books and blog posts to which I can refer. Guys like Seth Godin have made their success on giving original thought to things – my bet is, you can give it a go too.
Be Real. The blogs I like to read and the people I like to talk to are the ones who I know are the same off the Web as they are on the Web. They aren’t trying to put some sort of faux image of themselves out there. They aren’t trying to be an A-lister (even though they might very well be). What they are doing is contributing something of value to the community. They are being accessible, helpful and open with people. They are being human. You’re pretty interesting, I bet. Put that persona on the shelf and just be you instead.
Stop Trying to Be Popular. As much as I’d like to say that it’s not a popularity contest, I fear that many people feel it is. Someone mentioned today she tries to keep her Twitter follow list small, because she wants to work on building relationships with people she feels have a contribution to make. I think she has a very valid point. It’s not about how many people subscribe to your blog. It’s not about how many followers you have. It’s about making connections, communication, collaboration. There’s no need to try to “fit in” with the cool folks here. Everyone is pretty cool. So stop trying so hard to get everyone’s attention all the time. Just get in and start having some conversations. It’s a much more fulfilling approach and you’ll be surprised how many new opportunites come your way.
So that’s my rant…I feel better now. If you’re still here, thanks for sticking around till the end. Tell the ones that didn’t make it to here that it wasn’t so bad… :-)