Ask Tinu

Has the Hype of the Social Media Mega-Viral Campaign Slayed the Business Blog?

There used to be four distinct reasons that people would ask me to help them with blogging.

1- A person had an idea or a story and wanted to be heard. It isn’t always about money or business – see the political blogger, and the personal blog.

2- A person wanted to make extra money blogging. This doesn’t happen as much, at least not on a full-time income level. But to some, even $5 – 20 a day is a huge help.

3- A person, (especially an entrepreneur) or a larger company wanted more visibility. If you want to be seen, and to have multiple opportunities to be seen again, you blog, and you keep blogging.

4- Better search engine results or traffic. I would get a letter from someone who had X amount of traffic that would bring them Y conversions. And all they wanted was more of each.

Search engine traffic is an excellent fall-back reason to keep blogging. I’ve always maintained that it shouldn’t be the only reason one blogs, but that it also doesn’t make sense to ignore its powers in that area.

Did you notice it?

The one over-arching reason is exposure.

And who can blame them. Who hasn’t dreamed of being the star of a story picked up by Digg, or Mashable or the Associated Press? I’ve been lucky enough to choreograph or witness all three circumstances in my career, and as long as success isn’t expected overnight, it is attainable.

But more often than not, following success, I’m left in the irritating position of having to say “I told you so.”

Don’t get me wrong, being on the front page of Digg, or at the top of Tweetmeme, getting thousands of visitors from Reddit, your server rocked by StumbleUpon, and especially being written up on Mashable is every bit of an exhilarating feeling as you think. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just submitting someone else’s story, in the background orchestrating exposure, or part of the team being covered, it’s fantastic.

For a little while.

When the ride is over, it’s back to reality. You can scream “again! again!” as many times as you like, but you learn that it’s the convergence of the story, the timing and the barometer of Rome’s mob that determines if and when you’ll be on top again.

Most bloggers never make it. And yet, the majority of the bloggers I talk to are blogging because they were sold that dream at some point.

“Become a blogger, and you’ll get on Digg and then your problems are over!”

Not so fast cupcake.

One of the things that struck me when listening to Kevin Kelly’s talk about the next 5000 days of the web (thanks @salemonz), is his summary of the Laws of Media.

In this presentation on the next 5000 days of the Web, given in December 2007, Kelly said:

And so one of the consequences of that, I believe, is that where we have this sort of spectrum of media right now — TV, film, video — that basically becomes one media platform. And while there’s many differences in some senses, they will share more and more in common with each other.

So that the laws of media, such as: the fact that copies have no value. The value’s in the uncopiable things. The immediacy, the authentication, the personalization — the media wants to be liquid; the reason why things are free is so that you can manipulate them, not so that they are “free” as in “beer,” but “free” as in “freedom.”

And the network effects rule — meaning that the more you have, the more you get.

The first fax machine — the person who bought the first fax machine was an idiot, because there was nobody to fax to. But here she became an evangelist, recruiting others to get the fax machines because it made their purchase more valuable. Those are the effects that we’re going to see. Attention is the currency.

As you can see, I’ve emphasized about the idea that the copy is not valuable, and that the value is in the uncopyable.

This is the ultimate doom or boom of the ebook, the magic or mess of article marketing, the victory or vacuousness of video and the evolution or extinction of the blog.

Because the ultimate raspy gasp of the blog echoes here: the easiest way for you to get attention is by producing ideas and concepts that other people will share.

Then you want people to unite around the ideas that come from that share – that’s how thought leadership can turn into profit, by using your brilliance as an anchor for creating your Tribe.

It is then, therefore essential that you create original enough discourse that in both style (what you said, how you understand and convey it) and in formats (a link, an embed) that are easily traced back to you. The most surefire way to do that is to inject your essence, which can’t truly be copied.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but perhaps no one can say it the way you do, or make it as understandable, or duplicate your complex perspective.

And so we want to be both copied and share, for fame, for profit, for fun, for recognition.

If they copy but don’t share, they may throw the “you” part of it out. Great for contributing to society, not so much for any business that is uplifted from having one’s innovation recognized.

If they share, you can’t always track the sharing, but if it’s shared in a complete format, do you really care?

Especially if you know that this is where you can really see a return in value, you probably won’t. it’s more important that 500k people saw your YouTube video than being able to name each person, when they saw it and whether it was a Tuesday. So you “share to gain”, as Kelly says in the same presentation. Much better situation for you, whether you can track it or not.

So much so that so for many, blogging becomes a game of wanting to share something as close to uncopyable as possible that is also extraordinarily shareable.

We want the hyper-viral effect without having our intellectual property ripped off.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to strike that balance?

We’re going to talk about that next, and take a closer look at the mega-viral or hyper-viral model – that’s really a pipe dream – in social media.

As to the question in the title?

Yes, I think the hype of mega-viral success has killed the very valuable reality of what is a quite impressive set of tools between blogging and social media. Can we revive it?

Bear with me for a few more posts. I have an answer for that too.