Break The Pattern

Tweet, tweet, tweet. Blog, blog, blog. Buffer, buffer, buffer.

This year I have been filling nGen’s Twitter stream with retweets of Harvard Business Review articles because that shit is awesome. I was writing blog posts that seem to resonate with clients, prospects and the industry. And when it comes to creating some catchy headlines in the social department, ain’t nobody like me.

And so it went until one day I saw a big brand with a promoted tweet that said "Help us get to a million followers." WTAF?

A voice in my head screamed, “What the hell are you doing?" I had turned into some click bait marketing monster. But this is the way it works, right?

Nope. All of our solid new business leads came in through email and phone calls. Word of mouth still rules the day. I decided to submit my resignation as social media manager active immediately.

For the next two weeks, I didn’t tweet as nGen or post anything except for an episode of Friendly Fire, our podcast. And guess what. We got damned close to the exact same visitors on the same damned days. What I had been doing didn’t seem to matter at all. Why? I have no idea. But I was done.

The next day I told my business partner that I was an idiot. I had fallen into the trap of thinking that effort would equal success. If we want people to be interested in us, we need to be interesting. Not fake or clever or tricky, but real and engaging. That starts with finding something we love to do that other people want.

For me, it's having great conversations with people like Simon Sinek, Jason Fried and Daniel Pink. The chance to ask them about their lives has been an amazing gift.

So now it was time to put my money where my mind was. Earlier this year I had an idea for a new podcast that focused on the origin stories of successful brands. How did they get where they are? How are they different? Why are they loved? I had recorded the first episode, an interview with Aarron Walter, who leads the UX team at MailChimp. That afternoon we put the interview live on the nGen blog. It felt great! Finally some real content that people could get excited about and use to gain insights into their businesses.

At the end of the week, I logged into analytics and was amazed to find… we got the same damned number of visitors on the same damned days. But there was one exception. Two friends who I hadn’t heard from in awhile reached out to let me know they listened and loved the interview. One of them asked if we had any capacity to handle new work, the other I invited to be an upcoming guest.

As the author of the record-breaking blog post 250 Buzzwords We Love to Hate, I’m qualified to tell you vanity metrics are the biggest distraction in web marketing. So break the pattern and stop trying to follow a formula or a rigid schedule for your self-promotion. Instead, keep your eyes and ears open for things that consume your interest. Then type your fingers to the bone sharing your passion.

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