Everyone has some interest in someone else’s life. Whether it’s the tiny amount that made you meet up for drinks with a friend, or the kind of interest that makes reality television and gossip magazines popular; chances are, in amongst the hustle and bustle of work, play and somewhere in the between, you’re going to fit some time to stick your nose into what someone else is doing.
As a somewhat pseudo-leftwing anarcho-syndicalist who by some twist of fate earns a crust working in digital marketing, I too feel the need to check out the lives of those more successful, interesting or inspirational than myself. I’m a long-time proponent of autobiographies – in a kind of “emulation is the way forward” way – firmly believing that I too could become the kind of person people read, talk about and hang on to every word of.
The advent of the internet has created the most incredible platform for would-be celebrities, superstars and big names – what we would call in the industry, “influencers” – and anyone worth their salt in traditional or digital marketing (or anyone who’s read Creative Mischief) knows that rule one of many campaigns nowadays is to influence the influencers. This involves a process of approaching people with a good following in a client’s industry, offering them a mutually beneficial arrangement of promotion or asking their opinions, and publicly recognising them for it. This achieves several things. Firstly, those with a following for any particular reason feel appreciated for their influences and opinions; secondly, otherwise unknown audiences are exposed to new content; and thirdly, you get to speak to some pretty cool and exciting people.
Unfortunately, however, it’s not always that easy. For one reason or another, many influencers I’ve come across make themselves somewhat difficult to reach on the internet – and these aren’t shrinking violets or tortured artists with many intricate issues; owing to the fact that they make themselves very publicly heard on more than one social platform. There’s making yourself uncontactable by marketing companies, and then there’s making yourself completely uncontactable. Both have proven on several occasions to be the bane of my digital marketing life – and I’ve kind of built up a bit of a reputation over the last four months of being able to find the email addresses of most people on the internet.
The first kind I’ve encountered are, put quite simply, ghosts. You’ll find a fantastic blog about something you’re really into. There are a lot of insights and well-crafted content that people share and discuss at length every time Twitter relays that a new post has gone up. However, for some ridiculous reason, the author is nowhere to be found. No name, no social profiles, no email address, nothing. Just some fancy opinions that either resonate really well or make you want to verbally punch someone in the face. Unfortunately, there’s no one to direct either admiration or attitude at – are these really good blog posts being written by machines? Has some prankster digitally remastered the Gesta Marketrum? Why would you create good content, then pass up on all the spoils that come with it? I know there’s the age-old adage of not wanting to be contacted by marketing companies, or avoiding spam harassing the email address you’ve casually placed in a short bio, but seriously – no name? Who are you, Zorro? Oh, hi there, big corporate client. Yeah, the Phantom of the Opera is back, and he’s writing influential blog posts now.
The second group of bloggers thankfully have names, identities and mouths to match. Unfortunately, they’re also intelligent (read: arrogant) enough to leave no trace of a contact detail anywhere. They clearly don’t use email. Oh, they have a Twitter account – but it’s protected. These are the kinds of bloggers who can and will write about whatever they like (as long as it fits the niche), but like cats asleep under chairs, they don’t want to be approached. Not by marketers, not by anyone – which is pretty crap, really, particularly if all you’re looking for is some advice. I’m not saying bare your entire life online for everyone to pick holes in, but social media can be used quite easily to promote your works and talk to your audience – whoever that audience might be. The worst that could happen usually revolves around attracting some unwanted attention and having to use a term that starts with F and ends with OFF. It’s not exactly difficult.
We live in an age of internet celebrities. Barney Boom of eclectic soundclash Sonic Boom Six once described Twitter as “a place where celebrities can text each other. Publicly.” The fact that you can follow the comedian you saw on Live at the Apollo, or tweet your favourite footballer, makes for a whole new platform for interaction with people many used to put on pedestals. Digital marketing has become an industry where social media cannot be ignored, where people talking about things does a great deal more than a flashy advert to push them into online virality. If you’ve built up a following in a world without the internet, you’re probably fine, but unless you’re someone like J. D. Salinger, Tomas Kalnoky or Kurt Cobain, being unsociable will eventually – hopefully in my opinion – see your relevancy go the same way as your social interaction. If people can’t talk to you, sooner or later, they won’t talk about you. “Because, there’s no such thing as rock stars – there’s just people who play music. And some of them are just like us, and some of them are dicks.”
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