My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Monday, Mar 03, 2010

What makes you so special on Social Media besides being “early”?

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Way back in October I put my “money where my mouth is” and challenged someone to come up with a new idea in Social Media because if there ever was something that needs re-invention, this is it because I am getting told by more and more “leaders” in this space that they are burning out or not being recognized for their thought leadership because of the ease of labeling yourself an expert.

Well I am sad to report that I still have my money…but that isn’t what this post is about but it does speak to some of the same thoughts. You see this post is inspired by a question that my friend Rob Blatt asked me yesterday that I have not been able to get out of my head.
The question was this:
What makes you so special on Social Media besides being there early?
Now before you get all angry at Rob, he wasn’t asking me in a negative way it was more of a statement about people on twitter in general and could someone who is considered in the “kool kids category” start today and really have any impact against the noise or be original without being compared to whoever the early person was.
I wonder how many people can actually answer the question honestly?
For me it is simple…I don’t think I am special and from that comes an authentic genuineous that allows me to appreciate every person who interacts with me in a daily, weekly, or monthly basis…and also once I year I, very late at night while everyone is sleeping, post a picture of myself in just a pair of underwear (TRUE and there are 3 now…go find them)
How would you answer this question?
  1. Hi Saul,

    What I found interesting about your post was this quote: "because I am getting told by more and more 'leaders" in this space that they are burning out or not being recognized for their thought leadership because of the ease of labeling yourself an expert."

    My first reaction is boo-hoo to these leaders – stop your wailing, nobody cares.

    My guess is that they are wailing mostly because they cannot profit from their supposed knowledge. Congrats – you've just become like most teachers in America. Hold off on your down payment for that Porsche 911 you've been eyeing.

    My second reaction is you get respect by being active and creative in a space whether its Social Media, Accounting or Plumbing. And it takes a lot of time and some luck.

    You can get a book published and maybe get some TV time but without a bit of luck you could end up in the bin with CB Radios and Rubiks Cubes. So you'll have to find the next trend and ride THAT wave.

    Social media is a tool…some of it's 'experts' are evidently acting that way too.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  2. Hi Saul,

    Interesting post and one that I have thought about often having been unfashionably late to the twitter party myself. But I should qualify my comments right off the top by saying that I am not a socmedia guru/expert/leader etc. and I don't do it for a living.

    However, I do think those who were astute enough to understand the possiblities and were among the first Twitter adopters have a signicant advantage regardless of their area of expertise. This, for a number of reasons:
    1. it takes time to build meaningful connections on Twitter – and I stress meaningul here. Building trust takes time and time = first mover advantage.
    2. many folks have already built their twitter 'circle' and just as in real life tend to engage more actively with those in their circle.
    3. in the short time I've been on twitter, I have noticed that more and more, it's being used like a broadcast medium. Maybe it's just my perception but people appear to be engaging less which again makes it difficult to build relationships, get people to your content and develop a reputation as an expert.
    4. People have only so much bandwith. If they are already following so many smart and interesting folks, they'd have to have a seriously compelling reason to follow someone new. Therefore, as a newbie 'expert' you'd have to bring some pretty new/different thinking to the table.

    5. Not everyone looks like you in their underwear. ;-)))



  3. Hey Peter,

    Thanks for commenting!

    Since you mentioned CB radios I am going to respond entirely in CB lingo.

    I think it is less about profiting but more about seeing all these baby bears blowing the doors off of the space and not waiting to catch up on the flip flop.

    If you are a full grown bear coming in loud and proud you expect to earn a covered wagon with a bird dog and not be apart of a break check.

    make sense?


  4. Hey Saul,

    Interesting post. Someone asked me a similar question a couple weeks ago and while I'm so Saul Colt :)…here's what I said to her.

    You're only as good as your last result. I see it like Formula 1 racing – you may be a good driver but you don't win all the time and you definitely can't go into a race assured of victory. At the end of the day, what we can hope for I think is that we have our basics in place and we do our due diligence before creating and executing "brilliant" campaigns.

  5. Why do you feel social media needs reinvention?

  6. @tinku – I wrote a little about it here

    It is my feeling that there hasn't been a new idea in SM in a few years and anything that doesn't grow or innovate in a year will eventually die. I love Social Media and have benefited greatly from it but still think it is in a crucial time right now (or soon) to become something the defacto way people market certain types of companies or just somewhere for self promotion and hooking up. I hope it is the former with just a little of the latter.

  7. Great post Saul, thanks for sharing. And great comment Peter!!

    It is interesting seeing some of the self-proclaimed experts not doing anything innovative. As early adaptors who shaped this online bubble we (assumption, perhaps just I) live in, we expect them to have some levers or buttons to pull and push to take things further. I mean – they have the mechanics figured out, so tell this robot to dance, right?

    My question is — why do we have such expectations of them?

    Chubby Checker, aka. the guy who originated The Twist, was on The Hour few weeks ago. The whole time all I could think was – who cares, you washed up one-hit-wonder. Then I was reminded of an important lesson – we have to have respect for those who came before us, those who shaped the dance moves we use today.

    Mr. Checker has not and will not create any other innovative moves, but he was a part of something great in the beginning. Now, Mr. Checker, like the socmed experts who cannot take this further, need to step aside and let the innovators take this over and turn it into something new and hopefully better.

    What makes you so special on Social Media besides being there early? Maybe that’s enough sometimes.

  8. @smichm Thats an awesome point. However, just as one hit wonders die along the way and no one listens to them…so will those who were early on the bandwagon but couldn't innovate or stay relevant. No?

  9. See, this "not getting recognized" crap is just stupid.

    Thank god YOU don't pull that shit, Saul. Probably because YOU have a personality.

    Here's the thing.

    The "old" experts in social media don't mean jack anymore. They're good at gadgets that further the efforts or old-school networking, but they don't know how to create COMPELLING content.

    Without the content, you can be the best hand-shaking ass-kissing networking in the world and social media won't be a mountain you can climb.


    The tech side of things doesn't need genius anymore — so who needs "experts"?

    Not me. I need geek friends. I got the content thing down, after all.

    As for Twitter, etc, if these "experts" would just be real people, be funny, have personalities people want around, maybe they'd have more resonance — instead of, like Peter says, just being friggin' tools.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

  10. @smich

    I responded to your blog post about this post on your blog but figured I would also post my response here.

    I hope I don’t sound like an ass here because I am not disagreeing with you but my point is more about the silliness of why certain people on Twitter are popular. But your Chubby Checker example plays into my point because “Chubby” (as I call him) didn’t write the song nor did he invent the Twist so one could make an argument that he too benefited from being in the right place at the right time and gained fame due to an enormous amount of luck and not something you could replicate.

    I really am not trying to start a fight I am just in a feisty mood 🙂

  11. OK. This is interesting. We still have to remember that:

    1. Social media is a marketing tool.
    2. Not everyone has drunk the Kool Aid yet (I'd like to point to my Toronto Blue Jays as one example)

    So, does Social Media need to be reinvented?

    Only if you think the hammer needs to be reinvented.

    I don't know all the answers. But what I believe is that if the socmed tool stops working, then someone smart (like Saul Colt) will invent another marketing tool and we'll all drink his/her Kool Aid.

    Man, I'm thirsty….

  12. James Lebrine about 10 years ago

    Here's the problem. Social media is an ego-driven sport that appeals to people that like to talk about themselves and share their opinions. In an environment lacking any hierarchical order or structure, anyone can spout wisdom, hatred or stupidity with a click of a mouse. It's a free for all amongst egoists and narcissists. Is it any wonder then that most of these wankers would anoint themselves as "experts".

    Social media is essentially an online replay of high school. Jagoffs sharing vacuous details about the "tweets" and "twats" they scored last night. None of these iPhone single finger twats could survive in an environment that demanded knowledge, professionalism, performance and leadership.

    In the words of my favorite social media expert: "Fuck this shit".

  13. Lol – thanks Saul.

    Sorry for bringing this to my blog – you bring up a great topic which is very much so worth engaging further.

    anndddd Here's my response encore 😉

    Saul – thanks for the comment. Loved your post and you know I’m a #fangirl.

    Now, I know – Hank-whom-ever technically created the twist and Chubby brought it to the world… but the point is the same – I feel as though there’s a lot of industry agonizing over these “experts.” Why are we all so bothered by this? Lets pay respect where respect is due (and yes, in my opinion that includes the ones who, by chance, happened to be there first) and move on.

    But I do agree that sometimes it bothers me seeing people put out books about socmed redundancies [read: nothing], viewing these books expensive business cards (just one example, not naming), and then getting inflated followings and egos because of it.

    I’m just saying I don’t want to get distracted by this; instead, I’d rather smile, nod, keep doing what I’m doing, take what I can out of what they do well, and at the end of the day, I’ll sleep well knowing I do what I love, I do my best, I live it, understand it, and am constantly trying to improve – and that is what’s important.

    Might just be me, but focusing on everyone else’s successes or following, no matter how unqualified they seem, doesn’t do much else but make me feel jealous, lesser and uninspired. Where will that self-pity get me? Nowhere. I’d rather take what I can from it – these people are obviously doing something right.

    The true and talented will prevail. Trust that smoke and mirrors can take someone only so far. I know, one day my hard work will pay off.

    And I’m not going to get into rewards from the unviverse from staying focused, grateful and positive :p

  14. Yeah, I've wondered the same thing many times. There is definitely an element of celebrity worship in the social world. The problem is that it's too easy to mistake celebrity with real talent and vision.

    There are people out there changing social media. They're the ones linking it with reality, whether it's business, space, time, markets, shoes, beer, news, whatever. They're the ones who are lowering the barriers of entry for everyone. They're the ones who are making it more findable and more fun.

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