I've been writing this blog now for almost 7 years. My blogging experience has taught me a few things about social media and online marketing. Here are seven of them:
1. Social media can be effective
It's a slow build and it takes a great deal of effort, but...if you know what you're doing; you are willing to invest a lot of time and effort; you are a small brand; and you have something interesting to say...social media can pay off.
2. Most people are too scared to be effective
Being effective at social media means having a voice that is interesting and different. Most people aren't interesting and are afraid to be different. Agencies and agency executives can't afford to be different. It's risky. Clients don't want to read unusual opinions, they want their mundane beliefs confirmed. That's why most blogs and most "content" is deadly boring and a waste of valuable pixels. My former agency was a perfect example. My blog generated more views in a day than the agency website generated in a year. But most of my partners were too afraid to connect the blog to the agency. I don't know if they were right, but I do know they were scared.
3. It's better to be interesting than right
If you're a blogger or if you're using social media to further your brand or career you need to be provocative or no one will pay attention. Sometimes you will be wrong. So what? Nobody bats a thousand. Being right is easy, being interesting is hard.
4. It's better not to post than to post something dull
Readers will give up on you very quickly if you are boring. It's better not to post at all than to post either dull material or material that is easily found elsewhere. I used to post 5 times a week. Then I got bored with what I was writing. Now I post 3 times a week, and sometimes 2. I'm still bored, but less frequently.
5. Most social media is a waste of time
In the time I've been writing my blog I've known scores of people and scores of agencies who've started up blogs. Almost all of them have either stopped or are just going through the motions. If you're not committed to it, if you don't have something different to say, if you're not a good writer, don't waste your time. If you're just doing it to express yourself, fine. But if you're doing it to promote yourself, find something else.
6. Most social media "experts" are full of shit
First of all, most marketing experts of any kind are full of shit. But social media experts have set a new bar. Having achieved a little success at social media it is my observation that most "experts" don't know what they're talking about. They repeat the same social-babble at every conference and in every article. They over-estimate the effectiveness and power of social media. The three most important things to know about social media are the three things they never say:
1. It rarely works as expectedThey make social media success sound way easier than it is. And they define social media success in the most charitable terms. Remember, the way a social media "expert" makes a living is by convincing you to do it and keeping you at it.
2. Most of their clients have nothing to say that anyone is interested in hearing
3. Did I mention it rarely works as expected?
7. I learned something about myself, too
I found out that I seem to be better at writing about advertising than I ever was at writing advertising.