Ignore the influencers: The dangers of a social media world
Ian Lurie Jun 22 2010
It’s time for an intervention. Ignore the influencers before you turn into a sheep.
Then: ‘They’ in limited doses
Think way, way back, to before Facebook. The internet was still pretty much a nerd hang out. Sure, everyone tried eBay, or used Amazon.com, but sites like MySpace were for young folk, musical acts and pedophiles. Everyone else stayed out.
Back then, great sources like talk radio, the evening news, our teachers and friends and maybe even a newspaper told us how to think. Two, maybe three times a day we’d get a nice dose of mass media.
Then we’d walk away humming the jingle for Oscar Meyer Weiners, or mindlessly parroting the latest negative press about the current president/candidate/political issue.
We’d get our doses of ‘They’ in small amounts. It was a cinch to start a dinner party conversation with “They say the president’s an idiot” or “They say he’s a socialist” or whatever. Your fellow partygoers knew who ‘they’ were, and had heard the same message.
Things were pretty well spread out. We were forced to process what we heard, because there were pauses in the conversation between ‘us’ and ‘They’. Now? Not so much:
Shudder. If I’m influencing people (I’m @portentint), social media has really screwed us all up.
Now: Freebasing ‘They’
Not only are there millions of ‘they’s out there, but we’re exposed to all of them, all the time. I could build, run and destroy my business based purely on the endless stream of advice from The Influencers.
You could do worse than creating your marketing plan around Seth Godin’s latest book, or Chris Brogan’s last keynote. If you take the time to understand it.
But the information flies at us so fast we don’t take that time. It’s easy to let that nonstop stream of advice control your every business decision. But if you do, you’re ignoring the fact that that advice is coming from someone who isn’t running your business.
Grab, listen, repeat: Someone says “web 2.0” and suddenly everyone is saying “web 2.0”. They have no idea what the hell it means, of course, but that’s irrelevant. ‘They’ say web 2.0 is the way to go, so dammit, we want our web site to use web 2.0!
That’s how you end up outta business.
Now, corrected: Don’t record – listen
If I do a presentation and everyone in the room is frantically scribbling down every word I say, I lose hope. Don’t try to record my advice. Listen to it. Process it. Combine my advice with your reality. Then write down the result.
Take the time to understand them. Fold them into what you do now. Pick and choose. If the big influencers are anything like me, they want their advice to be pondered, not taken at face value.
So, take a break from the influencers. Pause for a moment. Process what you learned on today’s Webmaster Radio podcast. Then apply the ideas to your own situation.
Pause, breathe, apply.
And remember that in your own business, you’re the influencer.
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