The Myth of Helpful: RfL New Media Cynic

posted in: The New Media Cynic | 0

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Helpful. That is a word that sounds great, and new media gurus love to spread it around. According to quite a few of them, the way to build your stock in the world of new, social, or whatever  media is to be helpful, to be available, to be nice and willing to jump in to the social fray. That is not necessarily so.

Now, don’t take my words to mean that being helpful is bad. Helpful is good, but it is not the best way to get your own brand out there. Or, better put, it is only a portion of how to get your brand out there.

Cold hard fact time. There are many successful media properties on the web run by total assholes that would not lift a finger to help you if you were on fire. They don’t play the social media game. They don’t spend their time interacting, they spend their time producing and promoting, and they win. Even if their media is only second rate.

Likewise, there are a great many of producers that are extremely nice, that are always sharing, and always help out others, who have media properties that are totally unknown and under promoted.

Here is where the old adage comes into play, why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? In other words, why go through the trouble of consuming your media when you give your knowledge and time away with no commitment—okay, not the best comparison, but close enough.

Being helpful is great, but it is a personality trait, not a promotional method. It is a way to get a nice reputation. Thing is, it is one thing to be liked, another to have people consuming your media product. It sucks to have people say great things about how nice, and helpful, and social you are, and then turn to someone elses media for their research, news, or entertainment.

The perfect balance is to promote the hell out of your media property, but do it in a way that enhances your personal reputation. Many people pull this off. Think Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, and so on. They are very helpful, but they take care of their own media property first, get helpful to others second.

The above is not selfishness. The fact is, until you establish your media property properly, what exactly are you going to be helpful about? If you are so damn helpful before achieving your goals first, you are probably just performing some low level, unpaid PR for someone else.

Also, a lot of those that promote being helpful to get your brand across are actually using the guise of helpful to get you to consume their brand. It is an age old strategy, and it works. See the trend? They are taking care of their own media brand by looking helpful to you. Think Darren Rowse. Nothing against Darren, he is great and I subscribe to his media. I find it is often helpful, and more often than helpful, it is  insightful. I still have no delusions on the whole helpful aspect. Darren is a master promoter first.

Remember, get your media property out their. Brag it up, talk to anyone that will listen. Go for the kill. Then when someone asks you how create and promote your work, then be helpful, but also be honest.

Tell the truth. There is no secret formula. It is hard work, it is self promotion, it is believing in your product.

Being helpful comes second.

Now go and promote, but be nice about it!

Cheers,
Eban

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