If we put a number on it, people will try to make the number go up.
Now that everyone is a marketer, many people are looking for a louder megaphone, a chance to talk about their work, their career, their product… and social media looks like the ideal soapbox, a free opportunity to shout to the masses.
But first, we’re told to make that number go up. Increase the number of fans, friends and followers, so your shouts will be heard. The problem of course is that more noise is not better noise.
In Corey’s words, the conventional, broken wisdom is:
- Follow a ton of people to get people to follow back
- Focus on the # of followers, not the interests of followers or your relationship with them.
- Pump links through the social platform (take your pick, or do them all!)
- Offer nothing of value, and no context. This is a megaphone, not a telephone.
- Think you’re winning, because you’re playing video games (highest follower count wins!)
This looks like winning (the numbers are going up!), but it’s actually a double-edged form of losing. First, you’re polluting a powerful space, turning signals into noise and bringing down the level of discourse for everyone. And second, you’re wasting your time when you could be building a tribe instead, could be earning permission, could be creating a channel where your voice is actually welcomed.
Leadership (even idea leadership) scares many people, because it requires you to own your words, to do work that matters. The alternative is to be a junk dealer.
The game theory pushes us into one of two directions: either be better at pump and dump than anyone else, get your numbers into the millions, outmass those that choose to use mass and always dance at the edge of spam (in which the number of those you offend or turn off forever keep increasing), or
Relentlessly focus. Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.
Only one of these strategies builds an asset of value.