A couple of days ago, Internet marketing agency Outspoken Media’s chief branding officer Lisa Barone posted about the emails she’s received from readers, noting the number of requests for “ultimate rules” for internet marketing success. The question is, whether those who’ve been sending in email will eventually find what they’re looking for.
The drive to find the “ultimate” way to do something implies that there is one best way to do something and that a web-lebrity (ok, I’m using this term) like Lisa will give the answers/secrets, and somehow everyone who follows the rules will be able to replicate the results with precision.
So if her headline “Stop looking for rules. There aren’t any” is true. Does that mean that newbies are scrod?
And more importantly, is the “stop looking for rules because there aren’t any” a rule itself, making the post paradoxical/oxymoronic?
Here’s her answer:
If I define it as a rule, then it comes moot, right?
I think you can either take it and apply it or you can sit here and argue semantics as to whether its a rule, life lesson or something that should be found inside a fortune cookie. As time becomes more scarce and
more precious, I like to focus on what matters. Arguing semantics rarely does. Unless you’re doing it with Michael Gray and the it’s THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS!
Instead, here’s her advice:
I think people who are looking for the universal rule book are putting themselves on a path to be mediocre. Following the worn path rarely leads to anything particularly interesting or great. It just ensures
you’re starting out just like everybody else. There’s no point of difference. I don’t want to know the 10 things that you say I need to do on Twitter. That cookie-cutter information does nothing for me. I want
to hack Twitter. I want to turn it upside down and inside out and do things that every expect would tell me not to and be horrified at. Because that’s how I’m going to learn what it’s capable of and what I’m
capable of using it. That’s where I find my value.
Which makes perfect sense if you’re willing to deal with 2 challenges: fear and failure.
Fear is something that most newbies, whether dipping their digital toes into twitter or social media are going to deal with. Especially if you’re constantly reading about successes like the CoffeeGroundz cafe which saw business double and soon became a destination for tweetups (twitter meetups). The spate of success stories can be pretty intimidating for the clueless.
It’s the rare individual who likes to be mess up on their first attempt at doing something new, although it’s a likely outcome for the majority of people who try something new. If you’re working in a corporate environment, the repercussions of messing up can be pretty high. If you’re working for yourself, you might burn through a bunch of cash and time that you could have otherwise spent elsewhere. And besides the fear, there’s the possibility of the failure itself.
So, most individuals will go looking for the internet marketing equivalent of “The Rules“. Even as experts like Oprah are proffering opinions like “The Rules isn’t a book, it’s a movement, Honey”, the hapless will try applying:
- Rule #8 - Close the deal – Rules women do not date men for more than 2 years or
- Rule #5 – If you are a long-distance relationship, he must visit you at least 3 times before you visit him
So there’s a transfer (it’s more like surrender) of responsibility from figuring things out yourself to a third party. If things mess up, it certainly isn’t your fault.
Here’s Lisa again (on internet marketing):
I think that’s actually why rules are so dangerous, because they take your focus off the value. You become so obsessed with hitting the ABCs of social that you have no understanding as to why you’re doing what you’re doing or how it’s supposed to help you. You just heard you “have” to do it. And there’s no value in mimicking something that you don’t understand. It’s far better to forget what everyone else swears is “right” and to see what actually works for you. Because a lot of times, especially in social media, what works for
someone else won’t work for you. Or the reverse happens and its you doing everything you’re NOT supposed to do that’s getting you attention. If I followed all the Twitter rulebooks, I’d never tweet. I’d be too
If anything, value is derived from the results you obtain and whether that tool helped you reach your end goal.
So if there’re no rules, what then?
[Lisa] A rule is the norm; at this point I think it’s all advice. It’s all advice based on what we’ve seen in the past, what we think is happening now and what we expect to see in the future. These tools aren’t old
enough for the “norms” to have been established yet. How much history do we really have on things – a year? 18 months? We’re all trying stuff out, seeing what feels good, and coming to see which techniques for us,
Which can be a scary prospect, especially if you’re not in the mindset with the possibility of:
- Trying stuff out even if it doesn’t work
- Expecting to fall flat on your face a couple of times
- Getting up on your feet again and going for round 2, 3 and so on.
Sounds pretty intellectual/theoretical in this post, but trust me, doing it is a whole different ballgame.
Here’re some tips (not rules!) to increase your chances…
If you’re new to the business, looking at the leaders in your niche, observing what they’re doing, analyzing their intent and system, then adapting it for your brand/business can lead to success. It sounds like work, a lot of work actually, but sitting around waiting for an ultimate rulebook, might be a pretty long wait.
And just in case, the intent of the “There are no rules” post isn’t clear, here’s Lisa again:
The point of my post on Outspoken last week was to encourage people to stop walking in fear and looking for the absolutes. You want to know how to get the most out of Twitter — start using it. You want to know
how to build a successful blog — start blogging. You’ll learn so much more that way than by simply collecting someone else’s answers on a blog. There’s no answer key to success.
That is all.
(Above) What might happen if everyone followed the same rulebook
Lisa on Twitter