Online marketers suffer from a feeling of being "always on," and it can become overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be, especially if you understand and prioritize your vested interests. Here's a story to explain, based off a recent news event in American football.
I enjoy good football, and I live in the Boston area, which means the past decade has turned me into a New England Patriots fan. If you aren't into football, or sports for that matter, there's still a good lesson to be learned, so keep reading.
During the 2014-2015 season, a big to-do was made about the Patriots allegedly deflating game balls below the regulated PSI. Termed "Deflategate" by the media, there was a big investigation just after the AFC Championship game (in January), and (in May) the results were published for the entire sports world to read and discuss. And then, the NFL used the report to levy a hefty fine on the Patriots organization, as well as suspend their quarterback, Tom Brady, for four games.
That paragraph sums up the scandal in a neat little package for the person who has no vested interest in the matter.
No vested interest...such a powerful and telling phrase, if you think about it.
The fans have no vested interest in what happened with Deflategate. Zero.
Their legacy as a fan isn't tainted.
Their life on Sundays this fall goes on.
If the Patriots lose the first four games because Tom Brady was serving a suspension, nothing happens to the fans, regardless of how emotionally connected they are to their favorite team. They still have no vested interest in this scandal, and neither do fans of other teams, or even other sports.
Who does have a vested interest in Deflategate?
The pundits, reporters, talk show hosts, and companies who have media ties to the NFL are all over this. Why? It's media, it's scandal, and it plays at the heartstrings of the millions of fans who didn't read the above paragraph. The ones who break the stories first, and the ones who have the most outrageous claims and conspiracy theories, stand to win because they are being talked about by everyone else.
Vendors of sports memorabilia will want to watch public sentiment about the Patriots (and Tom Brady), and plan their products and marketing accordingly. There is real money at stake, and one misstep could mean big losses and wasted merchandise.
Researchers and governing entities may take a vested interest in Deflategate because of the facts and opinions surrounding the story, and also the inconsistencies being pointed out by those whose job it is to analyze the report. This party will be watching and observing with a scientific, unemotional eye, asking questions, and has a long-game approach to finding ways to make the entire system better for everyone involved.
Deflategate also impacts strategic businesses. Tom Brady's lack of availability for the first part of the 2015-2016 season has a direct impact on fantasy football drafts. The matchups for those games, and how the team records could conceivably play out during the course of the playoffs, will impact sports betting lines (oops, I didn't say that, sports betting is illegal, kids). Those who have a vested interest in such matters will definitely be paying attention, but on a different level: not to report, but to analyze the effect on their own business operations, and make marketing moves accordingly.
Season ticket holders who frequently resell their tickets also have a vested interest, and may also want to follow this story more closely because it could impact their ability to pass off those first four games of the season. Or, they might see the suspension as an opportunity for the right audience, and use what they've learned about the new matchups to create a ticketing package experience that meets a small niche demand.
How this ties into marketing
Each of the above examples could easily represent a person or company in the online marketing space. You may have even conjured up one or two personalities from your own network while reading it:
► The blogger who is the go-to source for every breaking news story.
► The "expert" who always has something insightful to say about a particular topic (I could put insightful in quotes, it's up to you on how you want to interpret expert).
► The info-product "ninja" who is always looking at how changes to tactics and techniques help him grow his list.
► The business owner who is simply looking for information on how this affects them.
And of course, there's the audience of each who discusses, shares, posits, and sometimes even challenges what's being said, with the intent (subconsciously?) of becoming vested in the topic themselves such that they attain a position of authority, too.
Here's the thing, though: outside of those circles of people, nobody else has a vested interest in what just happened. Not in Deflategate, not in the latest Google algorithm change, nor in "boosting their SEO while optimizing ROI for maximum engagement."
Where do you go from here?
To excel as a marketer or business owner, you need to understand where you have a vested interest in various topics, and what shape that vested interest takes. Similarly, you need to know how to identify and avoid situations where you'll get sucked in and prioritize your time in those discussions accordingly.
In other words, and this might sound harsh, unless you have a vested interest in a topic, participating is simply an exercise in inflating your self-importance.
And remember, that vested interest can take on many forms, and vary in intensity from casual knowledge to testing a completely new tactic.
Understanding these fundamentals, which isn't easy, and is always changing, will help you find the right people and sources to follow, and to invest time (or money) in for the purpose of running your business.
But wait, there's more!
The byproduct of this self-realization exercise is productivity. When you can focus on what's important and block out (or downplay) the rest, you'll become much more productive online, especially on social media where we have tools to help us manage the constant stream of activity. Use those tools, and make it part of your routine to evaluate the value of those streams on a regular basis.
Personally, this realization caused me to:
► Drop out of most of the online communities I belong to,
► Change notification settings such that there aren't as many,
► Restructure my various news feeds to reduce overlap and put more faith in specific people (for resources and/or learning opportunities) and newsletters, so I have more control over when I want to consume content,
► Prioritize time spent on Income Producing Activities, and simply not care about the rest.
An ongoing challenge for marketers and business owners
Today's attention economy is shifting the burden for content producers to become more relevant to their audience, and to rise above the noise created by everyone else.You might think this will reduce the amount of content being published, and it might, but it also might begin to surface more and more attention-worthy content, which leaves us with the same challenge we had before: how vested are we in particular topics, and how do we manage the content coming across our desks in a way that doesn't overwhelm us?
I'd love your thoughts in the comments or over on LinkedIn:
#contentmarketing #marketing #socialmedia