Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Personal Branding was long the preserve of the Hollywood celebrity. To have a personal brand one needed a publicist, a manager, a PR agency and of course the ubiquitous “People”, as in “I’ll have my people talk to your people”. Social Media is changing all of that. People who would have once gone unnoticed now have a channel through which they can reach thousands of people.

With a million new blogs launched everyday in the US, the competition for audience share is ever more challenging. Skills & tasks that were once only aqcuired by and the concern of product managers, brand managers & marketing managers are now being acquired, honed and practiced by everyone from school teachers, stay-at-home parents, to police officers and computer geeks.

I Know How You Did That

There are two main implications of this change that Social Media is bringing. Firstly, everyone taking part in this surge in communication now wants, not only their 15 minutes of fame, but enduring celebrity and they want it now. The second implication is that having started to realize how brand’s are built the curtain has been drawn back and so these same people are less susceptible to traditional marketing techniques, after all they are using them themselves to attract their own audience.

I have seen recently, a undertone of what could be described as “resentment” against Social Media stars. In some cases I believe that people look at these so called stars in the same way that people sometimes view musicians who gain a place in the public consciousness. The term “overnight success” gets thrown about because people don’t realize the years that a musician might have spent playing spit & sawdust bars, for little more than beer & tips. In the same way a lot of the so called Social Media stars have in fact been practioners of their craft for years. Dorian Carta (aka Paisano) recently celebrated his 10th year as a blogger, hardly a Johnny-come-lately.

A recent NPR interview contained the snippet that it takes about 10,000 hours to become good at something. 10,000 hours that’s just over a year. So if you haven’t been blogging consistently (e.g. more than once a week) for at least a year, you haven’t even begun to get good at it.

Credibility is Key

What is missing from a lot of these Personal Branders is the sense of differentiation. Its a clear case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. The desire to achieve some form of recognition is a natural human instinct, but Social Media is allowing some to seek recognition well outside of their normal circles. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It allows all of us to experience points of view, to share knowledge with people we would otherwise be very unlikely to encounter. That differentiation is and has always been, credibility, whether blogging or branding, building consumer trust is central to developing a brand as opposed to building celebrity.

However, this has to be tempered with the knowledge that not everyone will be, or should be recognized as a rock star. Even those who are admit that they are human first, they have good days, they have bad days. Chris Pirillo famously ranted about Microsoft on his blog, given that he had been a high profile employee previously and that he was saying everyone should go and buy a Mac, it had the potential to be quite influential. When asked about it, he admitted, he was just having an off day, he was frustrated by things he saw at Microsoft and shared that frustration with the world through his blog. More now than ever, we can’t believe everything we read.

So when people embark on a blogging career, whether professionally or personally, they need to understand that building a brand is not an over night event. Popularity might come quickly, but it also has the ability to fade quickly, the test of brand success, whether it is corporate or personal is its ability to endure. How many of those 1 million blogs that will launch today will you be reading in a years time, let alone 10 years time?

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Who I am I reading?

Posted on November 16, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

summer reading

Most people know who the “Rockstars” are in blogging these days. With an estimated 1 million blogs being created everyday in the US you would think that it would be very hard to get noticed or have your voice heard. Those who have been blogging a long time have already managed to differentiate themselves or have disappeared.

But what about those who are not necessarily rockstars, who aren’t the top of everyone’s list but still have a lot to offer.

Chris Brogan recently decided to give back to his followers by creating an awesome list of his “Rockstars”. In effect a blogroll, but of huge proportions. The list was “self created” in that everyone on the list (myself included) submitted their websites and were just listed.

What I wanted to provide here was my list of personal “Rockstars”, more than just a list, a reason why these are the people I look up to and read on a regular basis.

Christine Gilbert – writes at almostfearless.com Christine left her job as a manager at a Fortune 500 company to travel the world. She sold her belongings to travel the world, to write & take photographs. Some might think this an incredibly stupid thing to do, especially in the current economic climate, others yet might wonder at the bravery that it takes to undertake a journey like this. I love to keep up with Christine’s travels. A real world, Where is Waldo?

Amy Derby – writes at Write From Home Amy writes in a real world style. She is both engaging and though provoking. Her blog is ostensibly aimed at aspiring or new freelance writers, but her messages are as equally important to anyone, writer or not.

Cheryl Phillips – writes at The Daily Blonde Cheryl is part of the group referred to as “Mommybloggers”. I am always uncomfortable with terms like that, firstly because it seems to be exclusive, as though the writings of this group will only appeal to other Mommy’s. This is definitely not so with Cheryl. Her blog is about being human, about being real. Sure a lot of what she writes about is her family, but she writes in an unapologetic, real world, take it or leave it style that appeals to me.

David Lano – writes at davidlano.com I am a new reader of David’s, he started following me on Twitter a few days ago, and as I do with anyone who follows me there I go and check out their blog. I really like David’s writing style, accessible, informative and he asks good questions.

Tony McCune – writes at What I See From My Window This is not so much a blog as it is a photo project. Tony invites you to send him a picture of what you can see from your window and a few words about the scene then he posts it. Its a simple idea, which is what makes it so brilliant. I love going here everyday and seeing a new view from someone else’s window. Tony has been sent pictures from across the world and all of them from someone’s window. Go take a picture from your window and send it to Tony.

Tawny Press – writes at Innoventions Tawny & I met through LinkedIn. She has been my Social Media mentor and encouraged me to get back involved with Twitter after I had given up on it. She is “officially” a corporate educator, but her ability to educate the rest of us regarding the best practices in Social Networking is what will keep you visiting her blog. She has some wonderful How-To’s on using Twitter and associated tools. She writes these not from a mechanical perspective but from the practitioners perspective, she has used the tools, documented her use and then written the How-to, saving the rest of us hours of trial and error.

Christa M Miller – writes at Vocational Duality Christa & I met through LinkedIn when I answered a question she had posed about using Twitter. She represents that great dynamic of professional non-fiction freelance writer (Law Enforcement is her specialization), mother, wife, fiction writer. All of these influences make appearances in her blog which makes it all the more readable. She can discuss items as diversse as personal branding issues using great personal examples of googling potential collaborators, to discussing the challenge of writing with a two-year old on your lap.

David Brown – writes at neo1seo David has a really interesting idea about how to respond to your followers on Twitter. He has a video that is sent to them via an auto-response. He says he has only received on bad comment back and lots of positive ones. I guess the auto-response part is slightly less human, but I must admit I love the idea of a video introducing yourself to your follower, that part is really human.

Of course I read the Rockstars too, but these are the people I read not because I should, but because they give me a reason to at the personal level. So who do you read?

Image by ruminatrix via Flickr
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Keep Blogging Weird: Not Wired

Posted on October 23, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

In a recent article for Wired Magazine Paul Boutin declared the Blog dead. His argument is that blogs were good while they were being written by the little guy but now that the blogosphere is dominated by the likes of the Huffington Post and other magazine style writings, the little guy should move over to tools like Facebook, Twitter & Flickr.  I spoke with Robert Scoble last night at the Austin Tweetup about the so called “death of blogging”. He reminded me that this article appears on a regular basis and that there are always people claiming to have found the reason why blogging is dead.

I have to take issue with this.  I am a transplanted Austinite, originally from London, England.  Here in Austin we have a slogan “Keep Austin Weird”, it refers to the area south of Ladybird Lake downtown where you will find an eclectic mix of independently owned stores. No big box chain emporiums but rather odd and yes sometimes rather weird places that, be you resident or visitor, will make you smile, laugh and quite probably part with your money.

If we were to talk Paul’s advice then we would simply shutdown this eclectic mix of stores and invite in the big boxes because after all they have the marketing budget, they run ads on TV and in the Sunday inserts, so how can the small single owned store possibly compete and yet they do.

In the article Paul argues that the only feedback you will receive for blogging will be naysayers and hecklers and that your chances of appearing on page one of Google results for any given topic that you blog about are zero.  I think Paul is sadly misled as to why most bloggers blog.  Certainly speaking for myself I do not blog to end up on page one of Google. 

Perhaps Paul would be well guided to pick up the classic “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser.  Chapter Two addresses the most relevant point in any writers mind – “Who am I Writing For?”

“Dont try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience – every reader is a different person….. You are writing primarily to please yourself…if you lose the dullards back in the dust you don’t want them anyway”

I do not write with the expectation that thousands of people will search for my article on google.  Those who enjoy what I have to share know where to find it and some of them are kind enough to pass on the location to their friends, just as many people, having visited the weird shops in Austin pass on their location to others.

I agree that Twitter, Facebook and Flickr are great tools but they do not replace blog writing, they augment it. I am an avid user of Twitter and have written about it several times, as I have Facebook.  But they do not provide the outlet that writing a blog does.  Twitter takes me little or no discipline.  I post here 5 days a week, I write 7 days a week ( I post to Dad-O-Matic on Sundays), that takes discipline.  I am a better writer for it and I feel as though I am providing something for those who like to read.

So to Paul Boutin I say, Keep Blogging Weird.

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