Ron Shevlin killed his blog. It was exactly 2 years old.
I started blogging about a week after Ron did, and somehow we found each other, along with Adelino. For a time there, it seemed like the 3 of us were the only ones reading each other’s blogs.
Ron’s blog was uncommonly good and very well liked by his followers. He says he set out to create a “Top 10 Marketing blog”, not really knowing what that meant. You know, Technorati and all that. As part of his sign-off, he states:
Needless to say, I failed miserably in achieving my goal.
And thank God for that. Because if I had really wanted to this to become a top 10 blog I would had to have written about a lot of things that I don’t really care about writing about.
So true. In fact, those of us who write a lot of material that runs against what is taken for “common knowledge” in Marketing – as Ron did – feel his pain. I’ve done the same since 2000 in my newsletter.
So, what is the point of Social Media? If people are only going to listen to what their “friends” say, and if people only subscribe to authors they agree with, then you get this massive group think effect that is impossible to penetrate when the quality of the material is ranked by “popularity”. And on top of that, the absolute crap that is published over and over begins to be taken for the truth.
It’s no wonder onliners are not learning anything.
And keep repeating past mistakes.
Telling the truth can even get you blacklisted.
This is the Wisdom of Crowds? Sounds like the Moronics of a Mob to me. If people choose to keep themselves stupid by immersing themselves in ideas they already agree with, what is “social” about that? Where is the dialogue? If what it takes to create a “popular” blog is to engage in groupspeak by parroting consensus, what’s the point of measuring popularity? To seek lowest common denominator ideas, the ones with no edge? To follow each other over the cliff?
Making it worse is the obvious effect of Advertising on the opinions of bloggers. Who is going to come out and tell the truth about certain Marketing approaches or tools when to do so would piss off the advertisers sending checks to the blogger?
Am I just a crackpot on this notion? For those of you who may be passionate about the Wisdom of Crowds idea, but perhaps have not read the book, I offer you these must read, core bits from the author, sourced here:
Under what circumstances is the crowd smarter?
There are four key qualities that make a crowd smart. It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd’s answer. It needs a way of summarizing people’s opinions into one collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.
My take: The blogosphere absolutely fails all four tests above.
And what circumstances can lead the crowd to make less-than-stellar decisions?
Essentially, any time most of the people in a group are biased in the same direction, it’s probably not going to make good decisions. So when diverse opinions are either frozen out or squelched when they’re voiced, groups tend to be dumb. And when people start paying too much attention to what others in the group think, that usually spells disaster, too. For instance, that’s how we get stock-market bubbles, which are a classic example of group stupidity: instead of worrying about how much a company is really worth, investors start worrying about how much other people will think the company is worth. The paradox of the wisdom of crowds is that the best group decisions come from lots of independent individual decisions.
My take: Ron made the right decision. He sold at the top.
There are plenty of other ways to market yourself and your ideas where the odds are not stacked against you by Mob groupthink.