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Do You Want To Be Respected Or Popular?
18 Jul 2016

Do You Want To Be Respected Or Popular?

10563493286_6aa1ce18aa_mWhenever something truly noteworthy happens, I am tempted to abandon all social media platforms, because inevitably a slew of blog posts will appear like magic, somehow pretending there is a reasonable connection between said news, whatever it may be, and business. Sometimes the reach isn’t all that extraordinary. There were a lot of “What you can learn from Steve Jobs” posts after the Apple icon passed away. Well, alright. He certainly changed the way a lot of people thought about both business and marketing. Posts about what businesses can learn from Prince and David Bowie were slightly more precarious in terms of relevance.

This past week, much to my cringing, wincing horror, posts started showing up tying Pokemon Go to business and marketing. A slight argument can be made that this gaming phenomenon is relevant to business because it’s encouraging people to visit local retailers they might never have visited before, and it’s also incredible that so many adults, along with kids, are posting pictures of captured Pokemon (s?) wherever they go.

Here is the question I am faced with, though. Are people blogging about this phenomenon because it REALLY has business ramifications that need to be explored, or are they blogging about this phenomenon because they want to grab the coattails of what are probably millions of Google searches? Does a store owner really need to be informed that traffic might be increasing because of the game, or is that fairly self-evident? Is a manufacturer going to find sales of capital equipment increasing because people come into the factory looking for a…whatever? Probably not. If 500 marketers try to grab the coattails of the phenomenon, is it going to spell success for any of them? You never know, but chances are people will get a little Poke-over-saturated.

What really got me thinking about all of this was a post from a marketer who said they felt obligated to write about this crazy kick. They actually said that as a hopeful leader in the marketing space, they felt it was necessary to somehow view Pokemon Go through the prism of a 21st century marketer. I wondered if this was code (and not very heavy code at that) for, “I need to continue to have blog posts that generate a lot of traffic, so I am going to write about something that is hot right now, whether or not it truly has marketing/business implications.”

That brings me back to the core question of this post. If you’re blogging for yourself or your company, do you want your posts to garner respect or popularity? The sad truth is that these two reactions do not always go hand in hand.

I used to blog for popularity

Yes, it’s true. Three or four years ago, I blogged on my personal website so that I could get a lot of comments and shares. That was the metric I looked at to see if I was doing a good job. While I never was in a mindset where I would have blogged about something like Pokemon Go in a business sense, I did write my fair share of silly posts like, “Things you can learn about marketing from The Beatles.” Did my experiment work? Well, that Beatles post may have been the most popular post I have ever written. Did it do anybody but me any good?

Let’s not spend too much time pondering that obvious answer.

Pokemon or Grow

The more I have dealt with businesses, the more I have learned that most of what happens online in the “blogosphere” has little relevance for someone trying to run their business. A post about Pokemon Go will resonate with other social media marketers who are perhaps spared the challenges of running a business in this complex global environment, but the business owners I deal with today want to understand the ramifications of young people not expressing an interest in the world of manufacturing. The Internet of Things is more pressing than finding a Ditto. Your customers may be concerned about how they can become ISO certified, what increased automation means, or how they can go lean.

If you write for respect, your post may not go viral. It may not attract the attention of social media marketing gurus. You might not get all that much traffic. The traffic you do get, however, will be from existing customers and potential customers. You’ll be playing the long game of credibility and thought leadership.

There’s nothing wrong with blogging for popularity. I just wish people were more honest about their motivation.

Image Credit: via Creative Commons

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