I think Seth Godin is reading my blog. Yesterday he wrote on ‘Losing Andrew Carnegie‘ and talked about investing in people over parts. Anyone who has been reading here a while knows I’ve been talking about this a lot since October, and gaining new levels of growth by getting free what I call ‘Factory thinking‘. The idea is that parts in a factory will break, but if you lead people, they can develop and grow.

Of course I know Seth isn’t reading my blog, nor is the idea mine to begin with – we’re just standing on the soliders of giants who’ve been discussing this since the beginning of time.

However it is an opportunity to discuss something that’s really on my mind right now and will require me to be painfully honest.

Are We Really Focussing On People In Social Media, Really?

So confession time. Claiming that Seth Godin is reading my blog is attention seeking. My blog is getting less comments and retweets and I find myself at times wondering what the point is. I’ve been doing things like writing blog titles like this, trying to promote my own stuff as if it’s someone else’s. All the dirty tricks.

But then I catch myself: this is factory thinking. It’s treating my blog is a machine that has outputs – rather than a place to serve and lead people.

What really shook me up was spending a bit of time with Chris Brogan at Like Minds. I don’t want to play the name game, but I was profoundly impacted by the time I spent with Chris. I’m pretty good with people and good with names – but Chris was on a whole other level.

I saw him meet people in the morning, meet a tonne of people during the day, and then call that person by name in the evening. Every person he spoke to I watched him converse with genuine interest, and never flip open his phone or excuse himself like I know I so often do.

When I asked Chris what his secret was, he gave me the simplest, yet most painful answer: “I just have an insane passion for humans

Are We Broadcasting Social Media?

I wonder how many of us are broadcasting the message of discussion? The whole idea of Social Media is that it is two, three, four way communication, yet I know my behaviour of late has been one of broadcast.

What hypocrisy!

One of my friends is Robin Dickinson. He and I talked a few months ago about a comment-driven blog, a place where the blogger was actually a facilitator – and rather than forcing his readers to read his content, he instead used the blog as a place to draw comments to form the content.

Well Robin went away and did it. What he has going on right now at RADSmarts is something I’ve never seen before – a community that is commenting on each others comments based on a short, 50 word blog ‘question’ with a picture.

I’ve got no point to round this up on, and to be honest I’ve lost the expectation of getting an discussion going below. But that doesn’t matter. This isn’t a machine that I’m churning – it’s a place to lead people. And if what I’ve seen last week with Like Minds is anything to go by, leading people will build far bigger things than managing machines ever will.

My thought now is, how much of what I thought was ‘discussion’ and ‘social’ was just broadcast?

Archived Comments

  • http://www.stuartwitts.com/ Stuart Witts

    Great post Scott. I know from my own experience how demotivating it can be when you share your innermost feelings only to receive zero feedback, but I also realise that doesn’t necessarily mean people aren’t listening.

    Human interaction must surely be the most powerful drug that has ever existed and once you get the smallest taste of it you can’t help but crave more. Even now I am desperately fighting the urge to link to a story on my blog about these feelings, but I totally agree with the points you make and I too am tired of constantly seeing this machine like self-promotion.

  • / Scott Gould

    Yeah – when you’re discouraged you get into machine mode. I did read your post BTW and agreed.

    I think part of it is this British disdain for self promotion as well, you know?

  • http://www.iscamedia.com/ Luke James

    Fab post Scott!

    I have a phrase coined. It’s something I call “The Dormouse Effect”. Basically, it works like this:

    I spend hours/days/ pouring over a piece, research, interviews, checking sources, grammar, OCD spell-checking (followed by therapy) and then, when I’m suitably sedated, think, yeah, we’re ready to go. Post!


    Discussion zero. Self-doubt. Self-flagellation. Self.

    Then, I notice a picture of a dormouse. It’s got a million responses ranging from ‘cute’ to ‘wow’.

    The injustice ;)

    But then, when I least expect it, someone leaves a comment on the heavy tome I’d posted. And all is good with the world.

    You’re right. The piece I’d spent ages on was really a broadcast. But, ironically, so was the dormouse pic. There wasn’t really any discussion on that post either even though the traffic went through the roof.

    What’s the answer? There are times when broadcast is vital – it’s pretty much the lot of the writer/blogger. And then there’s the social aspect you refer to. But isn’t this all part of the rich tapestry of online connection? If we try to be formulaic, in a social sense, we lose authenticity. If we’re the same, we just blend into a blog soup with no taste or flavour.

    Robin’s blog has hit on a great concept. His drawings and a simple question, in my view, take the pressure off us. Asking an open question helps enormously. We all feel compelled to answer, even if it’s just in our head sometimes when time is short.

    A while back I made the very conscious decision to say ‘hang’ keywords and SEO optimisation. Leave that to the copywriters. How can I reconcile honest expression with going for the ranking gold? So we metaphorically hanged the optimisers.

    But, every cloud has a silver lining. Your post has got my brain going this slow, Monday morning. And not a dormouse in sight!

    Best wishes, Luke :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Luke

    Thanks for the comment – let me take it deeper then. I think a lot of this is about our goals.

    If my goal is exposure, then I will broadcast.

    How do you think our goals should change?

  • http://designresumes.com/ juliewalraven

    Building community takes time Scott, and you know that. I have the same feelings when I work at a post that I think will benefit others, cause them to think, etc… and there is little response. The world is so big that I sometimes think every post should generate something… but then I realize how much I read and how much I want to read that I never post or share because of time.

    I appreciate you, Scott. I read Robin’s post because you sent me there yesterday. It was very interesting and almost a little scary. When you get a comment-driven area you also get people who thrive to disagree. Our daily paper’s commentors are like that, there is a discussion but it is largely negative, inflammatory, accusatory and often very mean. I don’t mind if people disagree but I don’t like it when they do it meanly or rudely.

  • / Scott Gould

    There’s loads – totally. The question is then, what are we providing of value for others?

    I think so much of what we write is “for others” but really for us. Then again, for many people. this works.

    I think a lot of it stems to deciding what our purposes are, no?

  • http://designresumes.com/ juliewalraven

    Kind of funny, awhile back, my pastor (Tim) gave a sermon about how he suddenly realized that he couldn’t write his sermons for the people in the congregation because it really didn’t matter if he was the only one hearing it, he needed to write what he felt God wanted him to say to Tim. If he was trying to please everyone else, it wouldn’t please God. So I think, it is ok for you to write for you.

    I tell my clients the same thing. When we pick the layout for their resume, they can’t know who will read it or what they will like… in the end they have to decide for themselves. Now I will give them choices that work for others and we will write their story with all the keywords and accomplishments… but we will write their story… as they know it…

    It is ok if it is for you… because others will identify with you.

  • / Scott Gould

    Tim’s onto something. When you realise people dont’ remember what you say as much as they remember how they felt, you loose the ego and arrogance that says it’s all about what you say. You realise saying profound things isn’t as important as making someone feel profound.

    I think thats how I’m feeling here. I’m trying to say profound things. What I love about what Robin is doing (he is a professional facilitator BTW), is that he is making the PEOPLE feel profound.

    So much of the time I find bloggers – and preachers – are essentially preaching a message that is “10 reasons why you should be like me”

  • http://designresumes.com/ juliewalraven

    You would love Tim! Our church had considerable issues over the past years and had become a fractured hurting church. When Tim was sent to the congregation it was a huge blessing. His heart is truly in the right place but his people skills are fantastic… His current sermon series is unique which doesn’t come close to describing it. He has assumed the character of Peter — but you have to know Wisconsin and the area to understand the rest… he is Peter – the Upnort fisherman… with red long underwear and bass fisherman pants, complete with a fish finder and more… he combines an amazing sense of humor with the Gospel and a talent for hitting the nail on the head without you noticing…

  • http://www.iscamedia.com/ Luke James

    Hey Scott, you’re welcome.

    Do our ‘goals’ need to change? I prefer to think of each communication method or platform as a means to an end. For example, yesterday, The Hurt Locker won an Oscar for best film. The writer spent time with US troops in Iraq then developed a screenplay, then a movie.

    At each stage there were degrees of engagement and broadcast – they were fluid. But ultimately, the end result is a profound message via several media and methods.

    I’m not one for absolutes; so I’m not suggesting there’s any one way. You already communicate profound ideas and concepts. I don’t think we need to beat ourselves up over not being social all the time. Isn’t it question of balance rather than hypocrisy?

    There’s a lot of criticism over broadcast versus social but I think there needs to be a healthy amalgam of the two.

    I really liked your comment to Stuart where you write “think part of it is this British disdain for self promotion” and wonder whether this is why we wrestle with many of the broadcast issues.

    Actually, just noticed you used the word purpose in an earlier reply. I like purpose better than goals. Not sure exactly why but I think it kind of fits better and by default allows a greater degree of flexibility.

    Cheers :)

  • codispodnik

    Hi Scott – I’m newly learning all this social media stuff, but I enjoyed watching the Likeminds conference online. It was my first introduction to Chris Brogan and he does seem gifted at being warm, genuine and passionate for humans.

    All these same self doubts plague me constantly, as I’m planning to start my own business. (Why do I think I am to start a business?) But I really am passionate about connecting with people and social media seems like the current way to do it.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a little while and I think you are right on the money when you say it’s about your goals. If your goal is genuinely connecting people, then you have to broadcast to touch them, but what do you choose to broadcast? Honest expression, words that are motivated from an emotional or spiritual place just hit the reader differently than words that are motivated from a desire for ultimate financial gain. I just have to believe that’s true. I have to believe that when I read a message – like yours – that I can tell the difference and I am VERY turned-off by salesy messages. I am ultra-skeptical about all that stuff.

    Anyway, just please be encouraged – you have some silent readers (like me) – and we appreciate you very much. I’ll try to remember to pipe up more often.

  • / Scott Gould

    Is there a website you can point me too?

  • / Scott Gould

    Purpose I think is the overall aim that the vision fulfills – goals are a broken down way to get there…

    Luke I am also mindful, if I’m quite honest, that I am discussing things as one who is on the lower end of the blogging spectrum. I think if I analysis too heavily I might forget the fact that I have a small community and have been writing for 8 months – not 8 years!

  • / Scott Gould


    Thanks for commenting – it’s much appreciated and helps me balance things out!

    I was very impressed by Chris too. When he showed me his blog strategy, is something to see how he has purpose behind each and every post.

    Part of this whole deal is knowing where the money comes from. Chris is good at charging the people who can afford it, in order to help those who can’t.

  • http://www.wesleyumcwausauwi.org/Worship.htm Don

    Here is a link to Pastor Tim’s Sermon Series of “Peter the UpNort Fisherman”.

  • Don