Yesterday, thousands in the social media industry got upset when a post called “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” In my opinion, the post was not well-written, nor was it supported with facts – two qualities that I find offensive as a reader who wants to take blogging seriously. Earlier today, I wrote my own response to this post on the NMX blog, where I talk about how important it is to develop a conversation around this topic and acknowledge generational differences.
But I also wanted to publish a post here, on my own blog about another topic that arose from the flames of this debate – arrogance and a sense of entitlement.
Many of the comments on the original post were from people 40+ years old. They called the writer childish and were extremely patronizing and defensive. The running theme, I found, was that commenters pointed to this post as an example of just how arrogant and entitled the younger generation – my generation, Generation Y – really is.
A sampling of the comments:
“Meh, a forgettable article written by an arrogant and clueless youth.” – Carolyn Bahm
“There’s that sense of entitlement we’ve come to love from this generation.” – Joe Sickles
“Ah the arrogance of youth and the total lack of understanding the comes with it. I grew up in the Television age, the computer age, the space age. I don’t run a TV company, I don’t own Apple and I’m not an astronaut. I keep aspirin in my medicine cupboard doesn’t make me a pharmacist either!…” - Simon Salt
“There’s that obnoxious sense of entitlement and self-importance I keep running into…! Well said, Lisa.” – Mia Malm
“I am only 31 and still find a huge gap in work ethic and sense of entitlement I see with those new employees, early to mid 20′s especially, that come in the door where I work. It’s amazing how many people feel entitled to their job, even when they are not doing it! If you want to keep your job, you have to work your ass off, prove you can do it and keep doing it even after that. Keeping up with the new ways to reach out to your audience is something ANY professional should/could do, regardless of age…” – Kate Seymour
Make no mistake – arrogance and entitlement are too different things. But I think, in this case, the sense of entitlement comes from the arrogance. In other words, it’s a mindset of, “I’m entitled to this job because I’m better than you.”
According to Dictionary.com, the definition of arrogant is “offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride” or “having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one’s own importance, merit, ability, etc; conceited; overbearingly proud.” You’re confident to the point of being cocky, and you have (or at least give off) the impression that you’re much better than you actually are. Arrogance is typically seen as a negative quality.
Yet, is it truly negative to be arrogant?
If you look at some of the most successful people in the past 20 years, you’ll notice a whole lot of arrogance going on. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates have all be called arrogant. Think of the successful people in your own life. Chances are, you consider many of them to be arrogant as well.
Of course, in this case, we’re defining success as rich, famous, and well respected, and many people (myself included) would argue that it takes much more to live a successful life. But undoubtedly success in your career is part of living a successful life, especially when it means you have the means for the pursuit of happiness, philanthropy, and meaningful relationships.
But I digress. The point is that many successful people in the world – if not most successful people in the world – are arrogant. And now, we have an entire generation of “kids” who are “arrogant.”
Arrogance gets stuff done. You’ve heard the saying, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” haven’t you? It’s important to be humble, but it’s also important to believe that you’re better than you really are. That’s how you push yourself to places you never thought you could go. There’s a really great study mentioned on Gigom about how many entrepreneurs are arrogant – and this contributes to their success.
Arrogance gets your voice heard. I feel like one of the main reasons older generation workers are losing jobs to younger workers is that younger workers are willing to shout. It doesn’t matter if you have great ideas, if they are never heard. When you passionately believe in your own abilities and ideas, you may run the risk of being called arrogant, but when you second-guess yourself and hold back, you don’t bring anything to the table.
Arrogance leads to innovation. The “I got this” attitude doesn’t always pan out, but even in failing, an arrogant person learns something new, and this can lead to some awesome innovation. The importance of failure isn’t lost on the arrogant. Our generation is just more likely to internalize these failures. Arrogance has actually been linked to creativity as well – something important to note if you’re going to consider arrogance a purely negative trait.
Arrogance gives you opportunities. If a job ad says that you have to have ten years of experience to apply, and you’re fresh out of college but think you could do the job, you have two options: be arrogant and apply anyway or simply go to the next ad. I’ve been hired more than once for jobs that I “wasn’t qualified for” because I simply said, “I don’t care what the ad says. I know I can do this job.”
Arrogance necessitates hard work. Someone who is arrogant has to constantly prove him- or herself, so they’re going to work harder. It’s a common misconception that someone who is arrogant is lazy. It’s lazier, in my opinion, to say, “I’m still learning,” because it gives you an excuse to not do a beyond amazing job. Studies show that the more arrogant you are, the less often you naturally use the part of your brain involved in reasoning, planning, decision-making and problem-solving (the frontal lobe). So if you want to be on par with those who do, you have to work harder at it.
With arrogance, you of course need some humility. It’s important to understand your own short-comings and continually educate yourself. But I for one am glad that I’m part of an extremely arrogant generation of entrepreneurs who think highly of themselves. Our culture is one of success and progress, so count me in.
This post is not meant to assume there are no bad aspects to being arrogant, but rather to point out that being arrogant isn’t all bad either.
- Will being big on Twitter get you a job? (bbc.co.uk)
- On Being Over 40 and Working in Social Media (blogworld.com)
- Why Age Does Matter in Social Media (farrahhaidar.com)
Jun 25, 2012 Community
The other day, I was thinking about how nice it is to write in niches like food and social media, where people are generally nice to one another. Sure these community have the occasional troll just like any community does, but in general, people are respectful. They disagree sometimes, but the drama is kept to a minimum. This is drastically different than a previous niche where I wrote (gaming) which seemed to be full of immature assholes who got off on ruining others’ days.
Some niches are just like that.
Or are they?
As I thought about it more, I realized that although some niches naturally have more trolls than others (you’re going to find more disrespectful comments on a game or celebrity blog than you are on a finance blog in most cases), I am the leader and ultimately the person responsible for my community.
When I wrote for the gaming blog, I would often pen feature pieces filled with opinion. I was aggressive and snarky, the same way lots of game bloggers are, because people responded to that style. One of the most popular pieces I wrote on the site was a post called, “No, I Won’t Have Sex With You,” which was about how annoying it is to just want to play a game online and have guys try to hit on your simply because you’re female. The tone of the post was accusing and even borderline mean.
I don’t apologize for this; it was a good post. But what kind of readers did that post attract?
Furthermore, rather than shut down any bullies or trolls that commented on that post, we rode the wave of popularity. Each increasingly vile comment or attack would lead to more comments and links and traffic. We allowed the negativity to thrive. We created that community.
Now again, the gaming niche is already full of jerks more so than other niches, but as the blogger, I have to take responsibility for creating a community where they were welcome. Myself and the co-founders of this blog could have shut it down. The post wouldn’t have been nearly so popular, but we could have moderated comments or stepped in to the conversation to make it clear that disrespect would not be tolerated. We did not.
So ultimately, we had to be responsible for the community of jerks we created.
Think about that when you are writer and when you are creating comment policies for your blog. Having a negative community like that is certainly a valid option. Some very popular blogs like Perez Hilton thrive on negativity. But then don’t complain when your community isn’t about kum-bi-ya, rainbows, and unicorns.
My life is much happier since we closed the doors at that gaming blog and I truly think that one of the reasons why is that I don’t have that negativity in my life anymore. For me, allowing the trolls room to flourish on my blog was not worth the stress. At the time, I blamed them, but ultimately it was my fault for shaping that community to be what it was.
What are you shaping your community to be?
- 19 Ways to Build Relationships With Blog Comments (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- When Internet Trolls Attack: Sherri Shepard Edition (clutchmagonline.com)
- Using Social Media to Make People Feel Special (waxingunlyrical.com)
Dec 17, 2011 Social Media and Promotion
A lot of bloggers and new media “experts” get upset when people use the terms social media and return on investment (ROI) in the same sentence. There seems to be a full-to-capacity bandwagon of people freaking out about it actually. YOU CANNOT TALK ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA ROI! ROI MAKES ME STABBY! STOP TALKING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA ROI! NO MORE ROI!
Dudes. Who the heck decided that? Because I’m not okay with that rule. I don’t remember there being a vote or anything. Not that social media is a democracy, but if I’m expected to play by some kind of rule, I at least what to know that I had a say in writing that rule.
I do understand the fluster it causes for people in some respects. At least, I understand how it started. See, big businesses (and even small business) who know nothing about social media want to talk about the ROI of everything. The problem is, they’re still thinking about social media in terms of old metrics. So, those of us who get it feel a little crazy when they start asking about ROI, because they want to measure ROI in ways that don’t make sense in the new media world.
But it’s not the idea of ROI that matters. In fact, if you aren’t measuring your social media ROI, I think you’re an idiot. Or at least, not a very good business owner.
If you’re using social media to connect with old classmates and make new friends, feel free to stop reading now. You don’t need to think about ROI. Just do what you do man, and enjoy the results of your conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other platforms. But if you’re using social media as a promotional tool for your blog (or even a non-virtual business), you need to understand the return you’re getting on your investment.
Let’s say, for example, that I run a blog about hair care products. I make money on that blog by both selling sidebar ads (which requires traffic to keep advertisers happy) and selling shampoo directly through affiliate links on my site. Cool. As part of my promotional efforts, I start using both Facebook and Twitter. I have super conversations using each platform. I make new contacts in the hair industry. I connect with fans of my shampoo. I get invited to speak at industry conventions. Facebook and Twitter rock! Woot!
But what’s the end game? It’s paying my bills and putting dollars in the bank, right? I mean, the fuzzy wuzzies I feel inside when I help someone pick out the perfect shampoo are nice, but we’re all in this for money. That doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t value our social media friendships or care about our fans…but the purpose of a business is to make money. You can’t pay your bills with friendship.
So I ask myself, what’s my ROI? I do some stats digging and analyzing and I find that on Facebook, I’m getting 50% more interaction, but on Twitter, my followers are more likely to buy from me and spend more money. In average, my Facebook users each spend $2 with me per money. My Twitter followers spend three times that, an average of $6 per month per person. I would be a fool to continue spending equal amounts of time on these two platforms. The conversation on Facebook is awesome, so I’m not going to completely ignore those people…but my data clearly says the money’s on Twitter. Each hour I spend on Twitter, I’m making three times more than I would if I would have spent that hour on Facebook.
Now, this is a very simplified way to look at stats of course. You can’t always look directly at dollars. For example, maybe your Facebook community is helping you build brand recognition. Or maybe Facebook is a better source of post and product ideas for you. Or maybe that’s where you more closely connect with people who want to have you speak at their events, which helps you make more sales. You need long-term data and a kick ass analytics team to help you really understand the ROI of social media. But the fact of the matter is, if something isn’t ultimately bringing in money, what the heck is the point? Again, if you use social media casually, that’s cool, but if you use if for business purposes, the point is to make money. If you’re not doing that, your business is going to ultimately fail.
So really, instead of ranting that we need to stop talking about social media ROI, I think what we really need to do is examine the ways in which ROI can be measured more accurately for business. The bottom line is that while social media is great, not every platform or technique is right for every business, and smaller companies can’t be everywhere at once. You need to know how to choose the activities that bring you the most impact.
- Measuring the Social Media ROI (forbes.com)
- Measuring Social Media ROI: 3 Things to Consider (socialmaximizer.com)
- Gary Vaynerchuk: Why ROI Matters for Social Media [VIDEO] (mashable.com)
Dec 5, 2011 In-Person Networking
It’s that time of year again; time to drink eggnog with long-lost relatives, make small talk with other spouses at your partner’s office holiday party, and exchange cookies and conversation with your neighbors. Personally, I love the holidays (I’m actually one of those freaks who doesn’t mind that they start playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year). That said, there is one part of this time of year I always find frustrating: talking about my job.
I think I’m spoiled. Most of my days are spent on Twitter and other social media sites, and frankly, you guys get it. Even if we don’t agree, you understand my passion for blogging and new media. A few times a year, I even get to travel to BlogWorld and geek out with y’all in real life. It’s fantastic.
My parents? They still have dial up. My grandfather’s never seen a single page on the Internet and very few of my other family members even have Facebook profiles, let alone understand what a tweet is. Even among my friends, social media and blogging are only marginally understood. I don’t blame them. This isn’t their passion.
What’s frustrating is not their lack of understanding about my industry, but the way their glances seem to suggest that my job isn’t valid. It’s getting better, but still, when I meet someone new, you can kind of see it in their eyes. They can’t possibly fathom how I’d ever make money online, so I must be 1) doing something illegal or at least shady or 2) barely scraping by or living on credit cards. Cue Allison pulling out her hair.
I used to avoid conversations about work, but what I’ve found is that the more people hear me talk about it, the more curious they become…and as they ask questions, suddenly, my industry is legitimized in their mind. And that’s fantastic. So, here’s my advice about talking to people about your job if they have no concept of making money online:
- Speak up when someone says something offensive.
People don’t know that they are offending you if you walk away without saying anything. I had one friend who would often talk about how pointless Facebook is and how people who spend time on it must be boring, unintelligent people. After hearing this again and again, I finally spoke up, saying, “You know, you might not like Facebook, but there are a lot of people who do. If your customers are there, you’d be foolish not to be there as well, from a business perspective. And from a personal perspective, I think it’s pretty cool that I can share my life with friends who would otherwise probably not be in my life. It doesn’t make you stupid to use social media.” The conversation in the room then turned to how I use social media and some really cool things businesses are doing with it. Later, my friend apologized and while he’s still not on Facebook, I think I opened his eyes to why some people do like the platform.
- Don’t generalize.
When people asked me about my job, I used to generalize, saying stuff like, “I’m a freelance writer, mostly for website owners.” That is what I do, but it doesn’t really teach the other person anything about what I really do. If you want people to stop using the term “blog” in a derogatory way, stop avoiding the word. Now, I say, “I’m a freelance writer, and most of what I do is blogging. I also do marketing online with social media, email, search engines, and so forth.” This usually leads to a longer conversation about what I do exactly and how that can translate to money. It’s not your job to educate people, of course, but if you glaze over things, don’t be mad when no one understands what you do.
- Talk about money.
I was raised that it is impolite to talk about money. While I will discuss my paycheck with close friends, I don’t think it’s right (in most cases) to blurt out how much money I make. You’ve heard of social proof, though, haven’t you? Online, if you want people to believe you, you have to provide stats and testimonials. Offline, that need for social proof still exists. you don’t have to give dollar amounts, but it does help to note your accomplishments. For example, if someone asks me how I’m doing with my business, I typically say, “Well, in the past six months, I was able to afford to move to the DC metro area, so I’m doing pretty well.” Talk about the fact that you’re saving up for a big purchase (like a house). Celebrate signing a big contract the same way your friends celebrate promotions. Being humble is important, but you don’t have to be so close-lipped about your accomplishments that your friends and family members suspect you’re barely making ends meet.
- Talk about well-known brands in relation to blogging and social media.
Only “internet people” understand the whole blogging thing, right? That’s what a lot of people still believe. Don’t be afraid to throw blogging and social media into the conversation, though – and do so by referencing national brands. For example, the other day, I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about a recent sports game. At one point, I said, “Oh, I read on the team’s blog…” Another example: The other day, I was talking to my mom about couponing (that’s one of her favorite online activities) and I mentioned that if you like a certain brand’s Facebook page, you get a coupon for a free product. When you talk about the fact that companies like Ford and McDonald’s are on board with blogging and social media, it suddenly becomes a more legitimate industry.
Remember, zombies don’t talk. They moan and groan and maybe even snarl, but it is the survivals who get out there are do the talking. If you want the perception of this industry to continue to change for the better, get out there and talk about it this holiday season!
Your turn – how do you legitimate blogging to your family? Leave a comment below!
- 5 Companies That Are Rocking Social Media (prwarrior.typepad.com)
- Social Proof Is The New Marketing (techcrunch.com)
- It’s About the Response: C.C. Chapman Talks Content at BlogWorld (blogworld.com)
Oct 26, 2011 Social Media and Promotion
Today, everyone is in a tizzy about Klout. Like an old lady fidgeting with her non-supportive dollar store bra, they’ve done some readjusting, and the results are not good (for most people). Scores have dropped left and right, and people are freaking out. Most of the people throwing a fit are people who claim that they don’t care about their Klout scores anyway, but that’s perhaps a post for another way. What I want to talk about today is the idea that your klout score doesn’t matter.
Pay attention to what I’m saying so you don’t miss the point.
It’s your SCORE that doesn’t matter. Klout matters. A lot. The service is the best in the business for measuring just how influential you really are online. It can help advertisers make decisions and it can help bloggers understand where they need improvement. I love Klout.
But the score they give you is just a number.
Today, your score probably dropped. And it didn’t just dip down, it retro-actively dropped, so you can actually see how you’ve really been doing over the past several months. But even though your number is lower, you haven’t changed. It didn’t drop because you’re “engaging” any more or less. It didn’t drop because your fans suddenly hate you and the horse you rode in on. It didn’t drop because you’ve been doing anything wrong. It just dropped because the system recalibrated.
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Oct 24, 2011 Social Media and Promotion
“Engage” sounds like we’re heading to battle. ENGAGE MISSIIIIILES!
“Engage” sounds like you’re presenting me with a ring. Mom, Dad…we’re engaged!
“Engage” sounds like I’m a cog in a machine that you’re operating. Engage the lever to lower the bucket.
Please don’t “engage” me online.
I think that when people first started using this word, they had all the right intentions. The concept was that you needed to stop spamming your customers and actually talk to them. It’s a good concept! I like that when I complain about my flight, Delta’s customer service team will pick up the tweet and ask me how they can help. Of course, as with anything good in this world, blog zombies got hold of the engage idea and smashed it to bits.
Today, when someone recommends “engaging” on social media, I feel all slimy and yuck…because what it has come to mean is this: pretend to form friendships with people so you can use them to your advantage.
People use “engaging” as a way to hide the fact that they want to make money, like it’s some kind of shady secret. Listen, I’m here because this is my job. I’m not trying to hide that. I’m going to send you affiliate links, tell you about the products I’m selling, and try to convince you to whip out your wallet as often as possible. You and I? We’re not friends. This is a business transaction. You’re here reading my blog post because I have advice that will help you become a better blogger. And I’m giving it away for free because later on, I’ll have not-free stuff that I hope you’ll want too.
I don’t have to engage you to make a sale. In fact, I won’t engage you to make a sale.
I’ll engage you because I like you.
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Oct 8, 2011 Social Media and Promotion
I love the ability to talk to people from around the world via social media. When something happens in the world, I can talk about it with my friends and family, but getting out of that microcosm to read opinions and thoughts from others who have very different perspectives excites me. Seriously, I get all tingly when I think about debating with someone who lives on the other side of the world. And who doesn’t love a little tingle?
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find that conversation amid the useless chatter. I’m not talking about status updates about the state of your tuna fish sandwich (I actually think those have some value, but that’s a post for another day). I’m talking about…well…complaining.
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