I almost let this milestone pass. Three years, 300 posts, and still flogging the blog. If that isn’t addiction, I don’t know what is.
I spent half the summer plotting the death of ToughSledding — as I’ve done several times before. This time I came oh-so close to ending it after those 2 blissful weeks offline. But you know what they say: Sh#@ happens. And it did.
Here’s why ToughSledding blogs on:
- It helps our students. Like it or not, I’m the go-to social-media guy at PRKent — a damn role model. That’s the burden of teaching in a professional program. Students expect you to walk the talk. I’m a frequent critic of social media, its conventions and its affectations. But because I teach it, I gotta do it.
- It helps our program, and my colleagues insist that I press on. Even the new guy, who doesn’t arrive until January, told me I couldn’t quit. ToughSledding is part of the PRKent brand, he said. I still don’t understand that word “brand,” but to the extent I am part of it, this blog is, too.
- It’s an investment, and I’m still hoping for some tangible ROI. In my first post (9/11/06) I talked about the need for payback. Blogging is time consuming, and often burdensome. Sure, I’ve met some nice folks and made some useful contacts. Can’t argue that. But measuring the bottom-line of social media is still a dicey business. Not sure blogging is worth the fuss, but I’m in too deep to sell short now.
- It’s only the beginning. Or so I’m told. The authors of Naked Conversations (a book that inspired this blog) insist that blogging is a long-term commitment. Stick with it for 3 to 5 years and you’ll reap benefits. I’ll check back with you in 2 more years let you know if they were right. You gotta give it time.
I’m encouraged as more folks join the fight to develop a truly strategic and measurable role for social media. Like me, they aren’t satisfied with simple conversations or link counts. We want strategic direction, not just cool tactics. But public relations has fought this measurement battle since the 1980s with only limited success. Let’s hope the data miners can help us figure it out.
As more practitioners hold social media to hard business standards, we may find more execs in in the C-suites will “get it” and “get us.”
But there is a magic to this space I still don’t understand. Example: Earlier this week, thanks to my appearance on this list of “100 PR People Worth Following,” I picked up nearly 300 new Twitter followers. Weird, huh?
That number isn’t surprising, or even significant, when you consider that following someone on Twitter requires no thought or investment. Like so much in social media, a “follow” happens with a click of the mouse. The relationship, if you want to call it that, is casual and often fleeting.
But then a funny thing happened. Friends, colleagues and students who helped spread this link love began congratulating me for making this important list. Say what??? It’s not as though my work was recognized by a panel of credentialed experts or my writings published in some prestigious journal. I made one blogger’s list of favorite tweeters. Flattering? Sure. But I’d rather you congratulate me when I actually accomplish something.
Perspective is rare in this PR/marketing blogosphere — almost as rare as folks who know the difference between PR and marketing. But you’ve heard that rant before. Yes, lots of information is exchanged in this space, and that’s useful for all of us. Sometimes it’s even fun. But social media’s impact in PR/marketing is more about popularity than expertise. Let’s be honest about it.
Assessing the real value of the information we receive has never been more difficult. Sure, it helps marketers sell stuff, but the impact of social media on trust and credibility awaits documentation. I’m not yet convinced there is “wisdom in crowds,” and I’m not sure I can trust the “trust agents” I meet online.
I’ve been called a curmudgeon in this space, but it’s not my job to lead the cheers for social media. We have a jillion “social media experts” on Twitter who will do that for us. But I don’t care for any more “media snacks,” thank you. They lack substance and utility, and like most unhealthy morsels, they make you fat and lazy. Twitter — for all of its advantages as a networking tool — is a classic example.
So bear with me as I start writing my next 300 posts. I’m feeling a little edgy.