I used to be very intimidated by marketing “rockstars”.
You know, the people who’ve written best-selling books, are stalwarts on the speaking tour and whom blog, podcast, tweet and post incessantly – all while working for big marketing or advertising agencies?
I’m no longer intimidated by these people.
Because they don’t exist.
Having co-run my own marketing agency, written over a hundred blogs, tweeted 17,000 times, and presented multiple times over the last several years, all while working on client accounts; I know that there simply isn’t enough time to do all those things unless you’ve invented a way not to sleep.
5 Reasons to be Skeptical
This is not meant to be a blog about bashing marketing influencers. I, like many, have learned a lot from certain bloggers, thought leaders, and generally smarter people than myself who practice marketing.
What does bother me a little, however, is when there’s an unspoken gap between ‘perception’ and ‘reality’ in the marketing world.
Here’s a few examples of what I’m talking about:
1. Social Media Influencers sometimes have others do their “socializing”
I was at an event last year watching a well-known marketing author speak when I noticed activity on their Twitter account. It wasn’t a timed-tweet as it was in response to another tweet, so this speaker obviously wasn’t doing their own social media (at least at that moment).
Having someone else doing your tweets for your personal accounts probably isn’t such a big deal, but at least be transparent about it and let people know it’s not always you doing the tweeting.
2. Authors often “Game” the Best Sellers List
Yes, it’s true. The same marketers who often preach “transparency” and the importance of being honest and ethical in social media and other marketing undertakings, are sometimes the same people who cheat the system to get on the “best sellers” list.
You can read how they do it in this very eye-opening post by Vincent Messina, but basically authors will hire companies to purchase their books in bulk, and then essentially give them away (including at speaking events of the author).
This is not to say all authors or even most are gaming the system, that would be unfair. But for those who do, I have to agree with Vincent’s conclusion:
“In the cases where authors used services to manufacture book sales, thus leading to fake social proof, you should not only have nothing to do with their book, you should also have nothing to do with their advice.”
3. Influencers can have a hidden agenda
In today’s instantaneous, 24/7, social media world hype and buzz are currency. The problem, of course, is when the hype is just hyperbole, and the buzz is manufactured.
There was the case of Meerkat, an app that was so hyped up by influential marketing and tech bloggers, that it raised millions in venture capital investments before anyone really knew what it was, or what it did. And within days of theheight of its hype, Meerkat was cast off by Twitter in place of Periscope, the new app darling.
The point is that often those with reach and influence will back a product or platform for little more reason than they are being paid to. There’s nothing wrong with being paid, but you need to be transparent about it.
4. Sometimes being “big-time” has little to do with anything but luck
I’ve always been one to believe that a lot in life really comes down to luck. Where you were born, who your parents are, what you look like – there’s just a lot of things that boil down to the luck of the draw.
The same can be said of a lot of Social Media or Marketing Influencers. Whether it’s being an early adopter of a new technology or becoming the first group of power users of Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, sometimes just being in the right place at the right time can help someone skyrocket to “rockstar” status.
5. Marketing Influencers often stop marketing (except themselves)
One of the biggest issues I have with a lot of Social Media or Marketing Influencers is that they don’t make a distinction between marketing for a business, and marketing for themselves.
Yes, you’ve sold a lot of books. Yes, you have hundreds of thousands of followers. Yes, you’re big in demand on the speaking circuit.
But being able to market yourself and market a business are not the same thing.
In the hyper-fast world of new apps, technologies, tools, and constantly-shifting marketing tactics, if you’re not doing client work (for someone other than yourself), you won’t be able to keep your marketing game sharp.
In fact, I’d go as far to say that you shouldn’t be trying to teach other marketers how to sharpen the marketing game when you’re not even in the game.