Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 1, 200910:09 PM

Bigger Than Your Own Head

It's worth noting that just because everyone can publish anything to the world, it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone is listening or cares.

One of the most amazing things about being able to publish anything (text, images, audio and/or video) online is the simple act of publishing. Never before - in the history of civilization - has an individual been able to express themselves to such a mass audience and engage in direct feedback and conversation with that audience. It's easy to let something that powerful go to your head.

Don't let it go to your head.

While it is about "who" sees your message and not "how many" people see it that is most important in the grand scheme of things, it's amazing to see the mass amount of people with a Blog audience or Twitter following who actually think that they can have a substantive impact on the world.

There have been many instances in the past little while where people with a minor (and sometimes major) amount of followers have either threatened big brands or tried to create their own little storm in a teacup just because they felt like they could flex their person online social network muscles. In many instances, the net result has backfired. But, there's something else happening beneath the surface that bares mentioning:

Trust is a very hard thing to regain once yours is put into question.

Don't believe me? Check out the soon-to-be-available book, Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. If you can't wait to read their business book, always remember that if you use your audience for your own personal gain, or think you have the right to speak on their behalf - when really all you're doing is looking out for your own personal interest - you will feel the burn and brunt from your own community faster than you can say, "if I don't get a free pair of shoes from you, I'm going to Blog to my whole community about how bad of a brand you are."

It's amazing that after all of this time, there are still so many small minded people who have such big heads.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by mike lamb
    Mitch Joel

    no offense, but this (very short) article seems like a shill for Brogan's book

    Reply
  • It's not. Click on the link in the quote.

    Reply
  • Posted by Christopher J. Simmons
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,

    I take from this blog that the lesson is not to objectify and communicate at people on the web. It is important to have sincerity and a sense of community when publishing.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Reply
  • Posted by Ian Rountree
    Mitch Joel

    Some of the bloggers I communicate use this threat as a joke - as it has been for years! Reading this story about the shoes blew me away the first time, and it's still just as loopy now.

    Reply
  • Posted by Charles Neville
    Mitch Joel

    The female blogger in this crocs incident got really lucky - she was effectively the cause of a negative worldwide (ok, just the social media marketing world) rave without knowing her identity. Hopefully the sentiment that this stirred up will cause anyone considering that kind of approach to rethink.

    Of course it only really works in the brand's favour because the brand has worked hard to build up trust amongst its community already. Crocs, and George Smith Jr clearly have a stack of trust/presence/equity that allows them to take the right path here. I'm sure a brand that was just starting out would have been tempted to cave.

    Reply
  • I suppose it boils down to intent.

    History has a few shining examples of folks (notably Martin Luther nailing his manifesto to the church door) who have used or created social networks to shake the foundations of the establishment. Of course, the accompanying sentiment of these actions has always been a sincere intent to question the status quo, not for personal gain but for the "greater good".

    Similarly, there have been occasions where the opposite has been true - people who have tried to flex the muscles of their networks for their own gain have found themselves hoisted on their own petard.

    Where am I going with this? I don't think that it's so much that being able to connect and spreading your ideas is such a big deal (social media is just a return to the old marketplace relationships of yore anyway), it's that we're being held accountable - more than ever before.

    Our intentions are harder to disguise and where they are not honrouable, we risk vilification not just on a local but possibly on a global scale. Trust is currency in this "new" marketplace and without you're gonna find yourself out of work but soon.

    As participants in this new economy, it's easy to forget we're held to the same standards we expect of others.

    Thanks for the read, Mitch and for highlighting another issue that many folks fail to recognise as vital.

    Reply
  • Posted by Karen
    Mitch Joel

    Exactly. I read recently that there are now over 80 million blogs. Just because we are all talking doesn't mean anyone is listening. They listen if we have something valid to say that speaks to them. They listen if they trust our information, advice, or opinion. Your trust point is right on. Trust is hard to regain. And it is similarly difficult to overcome a negative personal or professional reputation.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mark Dykeman
    Mitch Joel

    I'm reminded of Uncle Ben's message to his nephew Peter "with great power, comes great responsibility".

    Reply
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