I remember when I started surfing the Internet, it was slow, hard and yet amusingly fun. I was more curious than I was looking for a specific thing. Being human, and we all are, we tend to filter down. When we first found ourselves zooming the information highway, we looked at hundreds resources, maybe even thousands, collecting the information we were looking for, and much more we didn’t need.
When I started doing research on the Internet, I had bookmarked thousands of sites, mostly information that helped me confirm my work, and then there was the stuff I thought might be interesting, or maybe even fun. Over time (years), I found myself going back to sites that were helpful, most of the channels I bookmarked never got my attention.
Today, there are millions upon millions of websites with information, some of it useful, most of it not so much. The biggest change with the Internet today is, mainstream seems to have taken the Internet and made behave like the Matrix. If NET Neutrality has its way, the channels will become fewer, and you will won’t have the choices you have today. You won’t have the freedom to see all that you can see today. But that’s not the story.
You see, you may have noticed that the sites you visit have become a smaller number, and you probably find yourself going back to the same 5 – 10 sites each day to get the information you like, and that’s the story. All the major networks, the major newspapers, all the major news channels, and all the social networks are sharing the same content over and over. The high rotation of the same content has us going to fewer places on the Internet, and nothing seems authentic anymore. Your information channels are shrinking! To compound the problem, you, the Internet surfer, and all your friends are sharing the same thing repeatedly, hence the high repetition on FaceBook, Twitter, and what have you.
What used to be a curious highway, filled with an endless supply of information, has become a small town of gossipers, and many seem to like fewer channels, because its easier, you don’t have to work so hard. The information isn’t as strong as it once was, the quality if you will, has lost it’s ability to hold you to the content for long periods of time.
Social networks now behave like mainstream channels. I’ve spent several years on Social Networks, and have notice that they all have become mainstream. They’re no longer different from TV, Radio & Newspaper, all you have to do is watch all the yelling, telling, and fire hosing of ads and links to selling products and services. Many would claim that’s just what they’re all for, I’m not convinced.
We live in a connected economy, we no longer fall for mainstream tactics, because they don’t work well for connecting. The biggest reason it fails, we all have control over our most prized asset, our time. We don’t want anyone to waste it, or take advantage of it. So why is it still happening, two reason’s might be, it still brings results, or connecting costs too much, time & money. Or, they figured out what quality story telling is. Quality story telling always wins. The story telling looks and feels differently on each social network, because we don’t act the same way on all of them, we talk differently on FaceBook over Twitter. So the easy thing to do, just blast, just let the fire hose go full on, on all social networks. But the audience is not the same on all social networks, success with each of them requires you to do some research and looking at data, what’s really happening.
Remember when we were told, God gave you two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately. We have fallen to our old habits, we like to talk more than we listen. People today, want you to listen, they don’t want to you to talk so much they can’t get a word in edge wise, they want to take part. It’s not just TV, Radio and Newspaper that yells at you, all the social networks are doing the same thing. They’ve all become mainstream, and I’ll bet, you think nobody is paying attention to your activity on social networks.
The secret, the way to win, is quality story telling, but the way your subscribers, your readers, your visitors, and your customers want it, NOT the way you think it should be, and that’s the hard part. You already have what it takes to tell your story in a quality way, the world and those who are paying attention to you, want to hear your story. So tell it!
We’ve All Got The Industrial Age Disease, it’s sad, but it’s true. Back when I was in high school, we were told, when you graduate, you MUST get a full time job. So we took a job at the mill, because it payed better than F. W. Woolworth. Today that’s changed, today people want full-time wages for part-time work. We were told to sit down and behave, to pay attention, and how to think… we made a mistake…we settled for something we new deep down within, wasn’t what we wanted. We did it because we were told to, we did it because we felt safe, we did it because we felt comfortable, and then it became our comfort zone, our sense of normal.
Unlike the Matrix, we believed in something that today is no longer true, we believed the Industrial Age System(s) would look after us to our last breath, just as we have in governmental systems. We justify our place in the world based on those systems, the factory model, the school system, they were designed to educate you in such a way that you would fit into that factory model. We went to school, we went to University, being taught how to fit in, not how to disrupt, not how to find a better way. But another way has been making itself known, and only time will tell if it’s a better way. This new way of business may be a replacement for the Industrial Age, it’s called the connection economy!
“I don’t care how many friends you have on FaceBook or how many followers you have on Twitter. Those are not actual friends or truly followers. I care about how much people will miss you if you’re not back here again tomorrow.
Connection involves a complex swap of information, expectation, and culture. It involves opening ourselves to others, creating vulnerable moments that frighten us. It requires humanity and generosity, not the rearranging of digital bits.
The swap means that it’s no longer completely up to us; it’s a partnership, not an announcement. When we give up control over the outcome of our interactions, we allow others to connect with us and with one another.”
The biggest difference today, over the last century, we have access to more resources and information than we have time to consume. The Industrial Age forced us to memorize, to conform, to fit in, today we merely need to know where to get the information, we don’t have to memorize it. We no longer have to conform to an old system, we now have the freedom to learn and create new ways to accomplish what the Industrial System doesn’t want changed. Hence, we don’t have to fit in, we can now choose not to comply, we can do that which we were meant to do, we can stand out. We were meant to connect, to share, to make the world a better place.
This new economy feels weird, it feels scary, it feels unnerving, it’s not for the weak of heart, it does however give us a freedom we’ve not had in the past. It’s not perfect, and that’s a good thing, we finally have a cure for The Industrial Age Disease.
Is your business community listening? I ask the question in all seriousness, I’ve discovered the business community in my area is very much asleep on social networks. It’s not only sad, but alarming at the same time. The problem is more about marketing, or how they acquire customers, after all, everyone wants more customers right?
It doesn’t matter what market sector you belong to, most still use social networks no different than they use newspaper, radio & television, they sell till their blue in the face. Yelling their heads off and hoping you will pay attention, you will be convinced to come to their businesses and buy what they were yelling about.
I’m going to share a very small case study with you, and I am the case study. You see, I have made it known on social networks, primarily Twitter, that I am shopping for a new fridge, hardwood flooring, and that I am painting two rooms called the Kitchen & Family room. I’ve been sharing that home upgrade project to all who follow me, and of course the many in the town and area where I live. Something interesting happened, nothing!
I’m surprised for a few reasons, for one, I have one of the largest followings in my area. Two, I hold workshops and teach business owners and entrepreneurs how the future of business has changed, and will continue to change. I even teach them how to listen in social networks. Three, I do a considerable amount of public speaking, to Chamber of Commerce groups and the like, on the very topic, and the future of business. Four, I was certain business owners in my area were actually listening and paying attention. I was wrong.
I even went so far as to Tweet this:
I was, I am that customer, I’m doing household improvements, I’ve been sharing, I truly believed that a business in my area would have been listening, paying attention, and would have connected with me, but nothing. I am not only disappointed, but actually surprised. The fact that no one contacted me to do business, this had me wondering, how many others like me on Twitter (put your favorite social network here)had money to spend but businesses aren’t around to get it. Why do local businesses ignore this apparently untapped market?
I’m even more surprised when I see these social networks getting so much air play on TV, Radio and to a lessor extent newspaper. It’s like saying you don’t know Jesus, but everyone has heard about him. Yes, he is still ignored by the masses too : )
So how is it that a city of 150,000 have missed this opportunity, they are leaving money on the NET (table), they are not listening here on social networks. I am just one of many that I know who are doing home improvements, we’re blogging, Tweeting about our projects, and yet not one business has contacted us.
Imagine, if one person (me) has 20k to spend on paint, hardwood flooring, and appliances and you had been listening on Twitter, your business could of had that business. But what if there are a 100 people like me with that kind of money to drop on goods and services. And as I mentioned, I’m not alone, there is potentially 100k up for grabs with the few friends I know in the same position.
There’s much to be said about marketing and advertising on social networks, but more needs to be done about teaching business owners how to listen and find customers like me.
That’s it, a short case study of me, a 20k bill waiting to be collected, and no one was paying attention. Imagine that. Many of the big name social media marketers preach to listen, to grow bigger ears, and yet, like common sense, there appears to be a huge shortage. When are you going to catch up, the tidal wave is coming, don’t be looking the other way, because your business will lose people like me.
So how would you fix this listening problem in your business community?
One might consider this a business opportunity, educating business owners. Oh and by the way, it’s too late, I spent the money already.
Is your business community listening?
I must confess, my youngest son is responsible for the title of this blog post. We were sitting at the dinner table this nite and we were talking about our neighbours dog, deaf but not blind…soon though. Our dog (Zeena pictured on the left) on the other hand, has bionic hearing, she can hear the paper being dropped at the front door from anywhere in the house. She races to the door barking madly, when I open the door, nothing…. all she sees is her shadow. I said, this is just like social networks, and my son said, ya…you’re barking at shadows like those followers are real people. He said something there that inspired me to write this random thought process.
Also, this constant running and barking caused me to reflect on conversations on Twitter & FaceBook lately, in regards to LIKES, FANS & FOLLOWERS. I will call these three things shadows, shadows are very misleading, hard to determine, to see where they come from even, but mostly, we are lead to believe they are something far bigger than they really are.
We tend to put far too much stock in the number of followers, fans and likes. We even attach a value to these indicators, wrongly I might add, but we do it to justify our time getting them. So we can have a case for our actions. Don’t get me wrong, they are important, in that they tell you one thing for certain, someone came knocking at your businesses door. Those numbers don’t tell you much more than that, ideally we would like to believe there’s more data to be had when someone decides to follow you, be a fan, or when the like button is pushed. I would like to believe there was actually a plan in place when this data collecting started, but I’m skeptical.
If you didn’t have a plan, a strategy, or a desire outcome well thought-out before you put your business online, then your numbers merely mean you had a visitor. You might call them potential buyers, but nothing has been bought just yet, not until you can turn that fan, that like, or that follower into something more tangible. There is a very real way to this in Social Networks, but I’m not the one who will teach you this day, another far brighter than I will do it. Stay tuned, and I will reveal him to you in tomorrows post.
So, these numbers you are so proud of are no different than the shadows my dog finds, your bragging and pumping yourself up because you have large numbers is a false sense of security, you are hanging your businesses future on the number of likes, fans and followers, don’t do this, you’re just barking at shadows.