There’s a common misconception, especially among those interested in social media, about content and self-promotion. Some argue that people shouldn’t worry about self-promotion and shouldn’t attempt to promote their commercial activities.
This attitude has prompted some of the thoughtleaders of social media – those who share outstanding content day after day – to constantly defend their own activities that are, or could be perceived as, commercial in nature.
I was excited to see Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Brian Clark and Sonia Simone launch Third Tribe yesterday (I joined). I was unhappy to see that Chris included a few paragraphs for the “naysayers” – explaining why he was launching this new venture. Here’s what Chris wrote:
Any time I talk about money, I get a bunch of emails telling me that I’ve jumped the shark or that I’m a sellout. I did when we published Trust Agents. I did when I took my first affiliate ad for Thesis. I’ll just say my part about this up front, and you can blog whatever about it elsewhere.
The reason for building a membership forum site is that we can share information that we use for our businesses. It’s not what we want to post on our blogs. It’s something people are paying to learn and hopefully use for their own business efforts, and because of that, we think it’s of value. Don’t want it? Don’t buy it. I do plenty for free, and that’s still useful, too.
It’s not for everyone. It’s for those who want to step up their online marketing game.
The attitude and rhetoric of the naysayers – especially directed towards people who legitimately share great resources and knowledge – is appalling. The rhetoric – often driven by ignorance and jealousy – has caused much damage. Trust in information from friends and peers has dropped significantly over the past year.
Much of this damage has been caused by confusion over, and misunderstanding of, self-promotion. Everyone, whether they intend to or not, self-promotes.
Let me repeat that: everyone self-promotes.
Whether or not your online (or offline) activities support or are supported by commercial interests, you self-promote. When Marc Cuban writes in his blog, he self-promotes. He may not always intend to do so, but he does self-promote. Every time. So do I, whether I intend so or not. Sharing IS self-promotion.
There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion. Lisa Barone wrote a though-provoking post yesterday about self promotion. Lisa argued that self-promotion is both acceptable and necessary for good content to find an audience:
If you’re writing great content or putting out a great product and you’re NOT promoting the hell out of it, you’re an idiot. Because no one is seeing it…Creating good content on the Web is not enough. Maybe it was when there wasn’t as much of it competing, but today there is. What separates the Good Content that IS read from the Good Content that IS NOT is your ability to promote it. I’d go as far as to say that it’s what separates people who are successful from those that are not – their willingness to promote themselves when it is in their best interest to do so.
But I think it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Sharing SOMETHING isn’t the same as sharing something USEFUL.
Far too many – especially some who’ve been placed on the pedestal in social media circles – have forgotten that difference. I’m seeing many top 5 or top 10 lists with little useful content other than a few sentences that could have been written by anyone. (When I’ve written top X posts, I’ve always done my best to share useful content, not just a list).
I’ve seen many posts about startups, social media, marketing, and more, offering little value to the audience reading those posts. There’s a reason why people like Mark Suster (one of the most respected VC investors in the country), Edward Boches (Chief Creative Officer/Chief Social Media Officer for Mullen), and Ben Kunz (Director of Strategic Planning at Mediassociates) , are so deeply and broadly respected – they know that sharing means sharing something of value.
If the only thing you share is self-promotion – you’re not sharing anything of value. So let me challenge everyone – whether you’re a social media thoughtleader or a 13 year old with two Twitter followers, writing about technology: Share something useful. Always.
If what you’re sharing is useful – you’ll find a grateful audience that will respect what you’re doing. It’s simple to get started. Just ask yourself a simple question: When you share, are you marketing you or your content?
image credit: Insight Marketing Design