The social media industry is nothing like anything we’ve ever seen online before. Outside of high school and Hollywood, nothing else can compare to the pressures associated with “being popular.” This unique element affects speakers, authors, social media agencies and even the person looking for work. Between Klout scores and the size of your community of likes and followers, the pressures have become daunting for some. For the many who make their living in or around the social media industry, the pressure to be or at least appear to be an expert, the best, or just a player is reaching a boiling point.
An industry friend of mine started pushing me to write about this after reading my recent posts about industry experts, etc. She said “I really would love to see you do a post about the nature of the industry and how it puts pressure on people embrace these misleading/unethical practices in order to be competitive.” I promised I would and here it is.
Likened to sports, social media is truly competitive. The speaking gigs at conventions, the choice brand contracts as well as consulting opportunities are all up for grabs. Rightly so, the folks who hire for these opportunities want the best they can get or afford. Those with huge communities, the most influence and recognized names are obvious choices. The pressure to be perceived as one of them is so great that many feel they must resort to performance enhancing drugs, so to speak, à la Lance Armstrong.
Purchasing followers on twitter, likes for fanpages and gaming Klout to appear more influential is equivalent to athletes using performance enhancing drugs. In social media, the pressure to perform and win can be so great that many are resorting to these tactics in a desperate move to succeed. This goes for beginners wanting to build a name, brands themselves and worse than all else, the social media professional.
Even students fresh out of college looking for their first real career position are feeling the pressure. With misinformed employers making Klout scores a prerequisite for interviews and requesting social media logins and passwords, pressure on the unemployed continues to scale.
So where does it end and where do we go from here? In my humble opinion, the focus must change…
I think the Klout score has damaged this industry immensely. It has added an undefined metric to the game that has captured the focus of most newcomers and simultaneously derailed veterans from what should be important. I talk to so many people everyday in the social graph who are so enamored by my Klout score that they fail to hear me explain its irrelevance. They are so focused on their Klout score that they are spending hours upon hours every week DOING social media, yet have no real results to show for it.
Please hear my next statement: When I am getting my best results, sales, revenue, click-throughs, software demos, etc., in other words, the things that really matter, or at least should matter, my Klout score declines. When I am not focused, am not doing my best work and am unable to spend the proper time on relationships, my Klout score goes UP! Further proof that Klout is being run by people who do not get social media or how and when it is effective and influential.
Ask yourself this – Do you want a high score that means nothing, or do you want tangible results that you expect from any other marketing medium?
How do we change the focus?
1) Stop focusing on your scores, your community size and your ego. – Provide value, have conversations with your target audience and build relationships that lead to ROI.
2) Stop adding focus on scores and community size. – Stop propping up the fake authors, speakers and “experts” by giving them your Klout, and buying their books, Look deeper to see if they are actually getting real results beyond book sales and speaking. Many are simply celebrities who have robbed the industry and led many astray through their celebrity status.
3) Focus on what is important. – Have a goal and a strategy to achieve it. If you are going to spend 8+ hours per day doing something, you’d better have a plan to show some real results for all that time spent doing it. If you have no real results in terms of clients and revenue, then get a job at McDonald’s instead. Your ego will suffer, but your bank account will do MUCH better.
The pressure to appear influential is off of your shoulders because now you have the knowledge you need to change this. The only pressure you should be experiencing is that of getting real results. And, I might add, when done properly, results are easier to achieve than a fake expertise and there is no risk of getting caught taking performance enhancing drugs.