The following post is not really a rant, but it only represents what I, myself am thinking about this topic.
Is it just me, or is the online marketing community losing its edge?
When I started, things seemed to be different – I found engaging thoughts everywhere on the web. Blog posts that lead me in new directions. Ideas that questioned what I believed. Thoughts that had me thinking instead of complaining. Between 2010 and 2013, times were exciting. Content marketing gained popularity, social media marketing became mainstream and the combination of the two delivered the most cutting edge results for some.
Everyone seemed to be trying something new. Everyone wanted to be different. Everyone challenged everyone. Everyone tried to excel, be innovative and creative.
Well, not everyone. Sure, there also was the crowd of mediocre marketers who only repeat proven tactics but never invent. But even those tried to appear creative.
Today, it seems that everyone tries to repeat what has worked for them before.
But who is innovating?
Ok, this is not entirely true – and at the end of this post, I will give you some examples of marketers writing blogs that still constantly challenge me and my line of thought. But recently I have found a lot of examples of something else, a marketing tactic that I would call…
What is a pseudo challenge?
(yes, I just made that up – if you like it, quote me on that 🙂 )
A pseudo challenge is when a marketing company decides to cash in on a trend that hasn’t fully formed yet by bringing oneself to the forefront of people promoting the trend – even if the argument is at least highly debatable, to say the least. By doing this, you only give the impression to challenge popular beliefs – while in fact you are only after the attention.
An example of such a trend would be bashing Facebook for lowering the organic reach of Fanpages. A recent example of a pseudo challenge we saw was the deletion of Copyblogger’s Facebook page. If you did not follow events, well here is what happened:
- Copyblogger deletes Facebook page.
- Copyblogger writes a long post about why they did that, claiming that Facebook simply does not work and quote an old viral video by Veritasium as evidence.
- Copyblogger cashes in by getting lots of social traffic, ironically especially from Facebook.
Why do I find this behavior questionable? Well, I don’t. I find it questionable that we – as the marketing community falls for it.
The video they quoted was old news – we’ve all seen it. It’s not completely irrelevant, because what it shows is actually a problem when marketing on Facebook, it is also not completely right, because there are ways around these problems and a marketer worth its salt should be able to work around it.
Also, they weren’t the first to do this. Eat 24 is guilty of the same marketing stunt, with similar success yet executed on a more humorous level and yet with more relevant data.
This is a Pseudo Challenge (and one that was executed perfectly). Facebook filtering the news feed is not news anymore. You can still market on Facebook. We marketers live by the rules that are set up by media companies. That’s just the way it is.
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Marketers Marketing Marketing to Marketers…
Does this headline even make sense? It does make sense grammatically – but does it make sense to market marketing to marketers?
But that is what the marketing community is doing right now.
And by marketing what we do to other marketers, we promote our solutions (nothing wrong with that) as the one and only correct solutions (a lot wrong with that). Back when I started, there was an open discussion. I was a nobody (in a lot of ways I still am) – yet the most influential people would discuss with me, publish my guest posts on their blogs, take my ideas seriously even if they disagreed.
I loved that and I miss that – has it completely disappeared?
Back then we had a marketing community that actively communicated and through the openness, we actually marketed ourselves to (potential) clients as a community.
Today, I have the impression that we have a pyramid – on top of it are a few influencers who are marketing themselves to other marketers. Speaking at conferences. But the 99% below them are those who actually have to work for clients – and while the 1%, at least, use the “Pseudo Challenge” to appear innovative, creative and modern, the 99% challenge nothing at all anymore.
Sure, they comment on blog posts, but where is their original thought?
How can they expect to be seen equal without bringing anything to the table themselves (the table means: the discussion)?
I admit that this image might be very clichèd – yet it helps to convey my point: We need real discussion again – disagreement with each other if you will. And we need that from anyone within the marketing community pyramid – not just the top level marketers.
Because these are still challenging times for marketers – Marketing is still changing on a daily basis.
Members Of The Marketing Community That I Find Are Exceptions To This General Observation
I promised to give you a few examples of marketers that I find are not guilty of these points, so here is a short list:
Jon is basically THE Facebook expert. If you are marketing on Facebook, then he is the guy you should read. His blog provides immense expertise on how to market on Facebook, which is highly advanced. I admit that I sometimes find that his blog is even hard to understand for me – but that is ok. His blog might be highly specialized, but it is also one of the most relevant marketing blogs I’ve ever seen.
Mark is kind of an odd guy in the marketing community – part elder statesman, part Agent Provocateur. He is one of the most accomplished social media marketers – yet he never shies away from using provocation. His initial post about Content Shock in the beginning of 2014 shocked the marketing community in a good way, but all of his blog posts are worth reading, to say the least.
Jeff is kind of the Uber-Blogger in the marketing world. On his highly accomplished blog, he and various guest writers publish daily. Sadly it seems that Jeff doesn’t post himself as often anymore. That really is sad, because when he does, he often leads me to new heights.
Glen is basically the new kid on the block – well kind of, as he has been around a while. He simply started early in his life. He is doing SEO and Affiliate Marketing work. And he is always honest. He brings honesty to a shady business like SEO (and if Google has a list of hated people I’m sure he is on it). He writes few but very long posts, and you can be sure to learn something new every time.
Let me stop here – there are more of these bloggers I adore, but these are my go to blogs lately.
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