6 Reasons We All Need To Stop Complaining
Ian Lurie Apr 4 2014
All internet marketers do it.
Google’s being mean.
Facebook is being dishonest.
Twitter is down.
I’ve done it too. So, I’m not making fun, or calling out individuals, when I write this:
We need to stop. We’re tilting at windmills so large they don’t even notice us, or when they do, can easily brush us off. Plus, it’s not helpful. Here’s why:
1: We’re Not Investors (aka, We Are Not In Charge)
Facebook and Google respond to the market, and their investors, and their own whims. Twitter really wants to. Unless we own a sizable chunk of voting shares, we can’t influence these humungous site/channels via the marketplace.
Shareholder revolts can work, but the marketing community won’t start one. Revolts start because stock owners are angry that they’re not earning enough money. Seems pretty unlikely anyone with GOOG or FB are going to be all that angry:
So, the odds we’re going to change anything via the investor route are slightly lower than the Mets winning the World Series.
2: We’re a Tiny Audience
According to LinkedIn, there are 51,838 people who refer to themselves as ‘internet marketers,’ 1.4 million who refer to themselves as ‘SEOs’ and 212,000 who say they’re ‘marketers.’ That’s, what, 1.6 million? Let’s say, for fun, that LinkedIn is off by a factor of 10.
So there are 16 million marketers furious at Google for their policies, and frustrated with Facebook because their marketing platform seems designed to make us look like idiots.
Here’s some fun math:
According to http://searchengineland.com/google-worlds-most-popular-search-engine–148089 Search Engine Land, Google had 1.1 billion unique searchers in 2012. According to http://www.statisticbrain.com/facebook-statistics/ Facebook had 1.6 billion active users. 16 million versus 1.6 billion. If this were a slap fight, it’s 1000:1 odds. Even the 300 Spartans couldn’t handle that.
(Actually, there were about 1,000 Greek soldiers at the final Battle of Thermopylae. There were 150,000 Persians. That’s 150:1 odds. We might want to recruit these guys to head for Mountain View.)
And yes, most of the humungous consumer audience doesn’t care one way or another. But that inertia is exactly why our caterwauling can’t affect the outcome.
3: Withdrawing Ad Money Screws Our Clients
We can huff and puff that we’re going to pull our AdWords buys, or shut down our AdSense ads, or skip Facebook advertising. But if we have clients, then that’s completely irresponsible. We’re in business to help clients grow, not to carry out a holy war against the injustices of fifty kajillion dollar mega-corporations.
You think ad agencies of old weren’t furious at the way TV and print handled their ads? They were. But they bought time anyway.
If I’m going to continue to do my job, and be good at it, I have to keep using Google and Facebook.
4: We Are Utterly Unsympathetic Heroes
Most of the literate world ranks internet marketers slightly below Blobfish for charisma, aesthetic appeal and as a date you’d bring home to meet the family:
SEOs in particular don’t come out of the wash all that well. There are always a few saying “Yeah, sure we cheat!” Not a lot. Just a few. And that’s all it takes.
E-mail marketers (spam), paid search pros (arbitrage), social media (spam) all suffer the same problem: It only takes a few jerks to make everyone look bad.
I’m not saying we are all like this. I’m saying this is how the public perceives us. Before we take on other problems, we need to handle our image problem.
Don’t compete with the blobfish. To the consumer, you’re not as attractive.
5: We Aren’t the Government
There is one entity that can affect huge, money-stuffed companies that own entire industries or channels: The government. If there’s any organization that can out-bureaucrat a major US corporation, it’s the US government.
I think that’s probably coming, at least for Google. They’re approaching the same web + operating system + software issue that Microsoft did. They’ve learned from Microsoft’s experience, and they’re being careful, but still, it’s almost inevitable that some influential Congressman not in California will realize that slapping Google around is his ticket to another term. Then, watch out.
But we can’t really impact that. We can call our politicians. If you really feel Google, Facebook et al are screwing us all out of our livelihood, do it.
Just remember that the only being the public regards with greater disgust than lawyers are SEOs and internet marketers. So find another reason to complain.
6: Google and Facebook Don’t Even Make the List…
…of things that are evil and bad. Allow me to go all idealistic and liberal for a moment. If I compare the misbehavior of internet giants to:
- Homelessness in the US and elsewhere
- Lack of education
- Treatment of women worldwide
- Treatment of LBGT folks worldwide
- Violent crime
- The fact that I live in a country where yahoos of all kinds can own firearms (I’m not anti-gun – I’m anti crazy people w/ guns)
- …. the list goes on forever
Really, Google and Facebook just don’t make my protest list. You may think these other problems aren’t problems, or are Too Big To Change. But I’m sure you have your own list.
I’m exaggerating a bit. But you get the point.
If You’re Really Pissed, Get to Work
If you’re really angry and still think you need to do something, don’t complain. Do something. Something small:
- A letter-writing campaign to a legislator. If you can point out impact on their constituents, who knows?
- Get other industries in on it. Expand beyond the internet marketing world. That might strengthen our arguments.
Or, something big:
- Make a better mousetrap. A search engine, a social network, whatever. Yes, the odds are 1000:1. About the same as swaying the consumer audience. And this way you’ll learn stuff.
- Run for office. OK, I kid.
- Organize activist shareholders. Just make sure you buy voting shares.
OK, start flaming me via the comments, below:
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More