This is why you’re not Seth Godin.

Seth Godin is an insanely successful entrepreneur, marketing author and speaker.  Is his social media model of broadcasting without engagement scalable for you too?

I recently received this inquiry from a friend:

I launched a new blog on Sunday. It’s sort of a quote of the day/micro blog for entrepreneurs.  It posts each morning at 9:00 and I have it auto-tweet so people can follow it that way.

My question is:  Should I begin to follow a bunch of people on that account or should I just use it as a way to have people learn about the blog?  My model is Seth Godin’s blog. He has over 137,000 followers but that Twitter account follows 0.

Well, if it works for Seth, why can’t it work for you? Let’s take a look.

To be successful as a social media marketer, you have to find a way to move your content through an engaged network.  To achieve this, you need a) a content strategy and b) a network strategy.

Seth certainly provides interesting, consistent, and relevant content and let’s assume my friend does too. In this way, they both have a content strategy that could attract readers.

The second critical issue is “network strategy” … we need a place for all that cool content to go.

Seth Godin is a rare commodity on the social web: A true celebrity. Like Lady Gaga or a famous athlete, Seth has an engaged network purely because of who he is.

If you are reading this blog, I’m guessing you are not a celebrity. If you are, please let me know so I can tell my mother. She doesn’t get the Tao of Twitter thing at all!

So without a built-in network, we have to earn our tribe the old-fashioned way — by actively seeking those who would be interested in us, consistently engaging with those folks, and being authentically helpful. It’s difficult to do this by auto-broadcasting blog post links from a standing start.  In fact, it’s probably a recipe for failure.

People don’t want auto-tweeted ads for your blog. They want you. They want to make friends and build new business relationships. And then, maybe, just maybe, they will read your blog posts.

“Seth Godin” is not a scalable business model for new bloggers and there are no shortcuts. To build social media success from scratch, you have to work hard at it — one connection, one blog post at a time.

Right?

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  • You put this very bluntly but unfortunately, VERY TRUE. There are no shortcuts to social media for “nobodies”

  • Elaine Fogel

    Mark, I really like Seth, but I admit that it sends a negative message when he doesn’t respond to, or engage his followers. He is a marketing maven extraordinaire, and it would be impossible for him to reply to everyone. But let’s face it… even mainstream celebrities engage with some of their followers. Heck, Ellen DeGeneres started following me, but Seth? Go figure!

  • Very interesting, Seth always finds a way to go a different path and find success. Using Twitter as a way for others to subscribe to your blog, as you said, would likely be disastrous for someone without his level of “celebrity”, but I give him credit for approaching Twitter with a unique strategy that works for him. I like how he sets the expectation for his followers though – up front in naming the account “ThisisSethsBlog” and letting people know it is basically a blog subscription. People don’t expect engagement from him on Twitter, and for him it works. 

  • Love this post, also a great reminder at the end, no shortcuts! Most of us needs to understand this. Seth Godin is the Justin Bieber of the interest.

    For your friend to not network with anyone is like opening a restaurant in the middle of the desert. He may have the best restaurant, but no one will know about it. Unless he networks will people and everyone travels around the world to visit :D. Not the best example, but you get what i mean hehe! 

  • Scarycath

    I think you’re right again Mark, I’ve unhooked myself from Seth, his broadcasting was driving me mad.

  • Seth Godin is one of my heroes and he talks about “Tribes” and how they are essential for success. He does not participate in Twitter the way the rest of us do because he finds it a distraction.

    The rest of us have to build a tribe from the ground up. I love working for my readers every day. It forces me to create great content, or go home. Seth himself would probably advise building a tribe as well.

    I have loved creating my own tribe. I met you when I maybe had 50 followers and have grown that to 700. I am no genius, but I think that is from being approachable, and not always posting links to my blog. I follow those who have more to say than how great they are.

    Your friend should dive in on Twitter, begin making friends and then start to promote their blog. Just my two cents.

  • Love this post, Mark.

    We all need to find the one of a kind to drive us and help us draw our way.Seth Godin is number one for many of us,
    So it’s true, we cannot be him, but we can be ourselves, right ?And after all, there were a movie about “there’s can be only one”.

  • Marieg

    Indeed you have to work hard at building your tribe. It takes effort daily and years. I have been at it less than 1 year. My Tweets are captured on my site, my blog and at Linked; so the value Twitter brings me is great. If I didn’t do that those site would not be refreshed many times per day and i would fade from memory. I enjoy Twitter a lot. I make a point of connecting with all my followers when I get a spare moment. i follow individuals and i thank them for following me. Nurturing is key.

  • Love this one. I always find the whole “Seth Godin does this so I will too” thing fascinating. I think a lot of these folks seem to forget that he was a multiple NYT bestselling author before blogging took off. A true celebrity, as you point out.

    Traditional publishers always look for a a potential author to have a platform (popular blog, tv show, etc.). Ironically, in Godin’s case, traditional publishing was the platform that enabled his insanely poplar blog.

  • I don’t blame him really.  The beauty of the social web is that you can make of it whatever you want. I think Seth plays the scarcity card brilliantly : )  His strategy would not work for me, but more power to him.  Thanks Elaine!

  • I agree Garrett. It works fine for his circumstances but we have to be realistic about our own opportunities and strategies!

  • That is a great analogy (think I remember that one from your blog before?) and very true.  Build it and they will come is a good movie line but a lousy marketing strategy. Thanks Aaron! 

  • We can all surround ourselves with those who are adding value to our day. That’s an awesome thing about the social web! Thanks for the comment Cath.

  • Exactly the advice I gave to him!  It worked for me, it’s working for you, it will work for him if he commits! 

  • That is a wonderful comment Yael. I love that.  To be original, we really do need to be ourselves. It’s the only choice we have.

  • A very important point — consistency.  In the broadcast era, we had to “show off.” Today, it’s more important to “show up!”  Thanks for sharing your wisdom today!

  • Great insight there Adam.  He is an incredibly smart businessperson and he makes the most of his stature.  I also think he managed his exposure level very well.

  • Right Mark! Forget a “Seth Godin” scalable business model, I want the Mark Schaefer recipe book for twitter world dominance. And oh yes, I’d also like a tall glass of ROI to pair it with 😉

    Excellent post as usual, and now I must return to my regularly scheduled “broadcast”.

    Cheers

    Reza

  • Ha!  Too funny.  I don’t know about world dominance. I don’t even dominate my household. : ) 

  • Anonymous

    Hear, hear! Take that first step at really engaging and providing value, then do it again and again. The value I’ve gained is from people following this model. One reason –  I learn more and trust people more with those whom I have a dialog.  We make each other think and grow. That’s the case online and face to face. I Then our “tribe” begins to grow. Thanks Mark for being a model. (and I continue to debate when to use whom…)

  • Engagement leads to connection. Connection leads to trust, Trust leads to business relationships.

  • Right!

  • It’s true that Seth does not engage with people on Twitter. But he is known to reply to emails. At least, he responded to two of my mails which were pretty long and detailed.

    Last I checked, I am no celebrity, internet or otherwise.

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  • I definitely agree. For us regular folk, we have to work at creating a following through engagements and building relationships

  • Anonymous

    Yes, agree 120%.

  • Standard, wonderful Schaefer post!

    Seth is really good, he is a celebrity and he got there first: sometimes there is a first-mover advantage!

    Everyone should read “Tao.”

    – Gary

  • Awesome comment Bhaskar. Thanks!

  • Need to take some ibuprophen for the swelled head : )  Thanks for the kind comment professor.

  • I’ve seen other similar inquiries…in short, I see people cut back on their follows.  They equate increased follows to some sort of diluted metric (love that word).  There is no easy way out.

    Oh, and I am a celebrity.

  • Seth once explained to Loic Le Meur why he does not “do” Twitter (aside from broadcasting). The reason is because he feels there are others who are much better at it (Chris Brogan, etc.) and it would dilute his focus, which is primarily writing books and blogging. He’s also a wonderful keynote speaker (I’ve seen him twice).

  • You will definitely be a celebrity on March 01 when the Return On Influence book comes out! 

  • I’m cool with Seth following his own path but feel it is a bit of a cop-out to explain it away that somebody else already has it covered.  I’m sure there is more to it than that. Bottom line, what he is doing works. I would not expect him to change it!

  • Word. Seth has built a brand around “shipping.” He makes a promise, and then he delivers that promise with an astronomical batting average. His sometimes cult-like following trusts everything that he does, so when he says that he’s going to deliver–even in an automated feed–people trust he will deliver something….remarkable. 

    Compare that with Charlie Sheen that used his celebrity alone to attract more than 1 million followers in 24 hours, but then he delivered…what exactly? 

  • Agreed. I think the concern about taking time away from his main focus makes the most sense. 

  • Hopefully this isn’t cult-like but I read Seth everyday because he seems to say something worthwhile everyday. Strangely, this is sometimes so close to some current thought or conditions that I joke that he has microphones hidden at our house! That’s quite an accomplishment for some who blogs everyday without fail.

    But I’m intrigued that you haven’t mentioned his lack of comments on his blog. Wondering what people think of that.

  • Nice post, great insights, and even better comments.

    One other thing no one has mentioned yet is that Seth’s blog doesn’t have comments.  So, you can’t engage with him on Twitter or his blog.  In my mind, a blog is a conversation starter.  Can you imagine the hundreds (or thousands) of comments on each of Seth’s blog posts if he allowed them?  He wouldn’t even have to participate, but it would give people a common place to talk.

  • That is an important discipline!

  • I follow @SethGodin:disqus tweets but rarely see them in my twitter feed.

    I wouldn’t have activated my twitter account years ago if I hadn’t seen twitter mentioned on almost every page of his book “Tribes”. Seth spoke at last year’s national BMA (Bus. Mktg,. Assoc) conference in Chicago and when I noticed him about to walk past I couldn’t stop myself from stopping him. I shook his hand and thanked him for “Tribes”.

    That silly little book helped wake me up and it’s changed my life and my business for the better.Seth doesn’t follow me back but at least I’m not alone. We’re all in that tribe. I’m surprised his twitter following is SO LOW. And he really doesn’t tweet much either, now that I look at his numbers. No wonder I rarely see him in my feed.

    I think it’s fine if someone as prolific as Seth Godin chooses not to follow back but I totally agree with you that us mere mortals are missing out by not interacting. I wouldn’t have met the brilliant @MarkWSchaefer:disqus if not for twitter and the fact you don’t just follow back, you often engage.

    My advice to your friend is to follow your advice – and follow back.

  • I’ve always been fascinated with that whole shipping thing. Coming from a manufacturing background, shipping before it’s ready was a recipe for disaster. I get his point about just “doing it” but I don’t agree with all his advice. You may only have on chance to get it right. Thanks Jeremy!

  • Yeah, it’s kind of the same theory. He just doesn’t engage. And of course he can get away with it. I, however, could not. I know my non-Seth place in the world : ) 

  • Very interesting observation and that would definitely be an interesting opportunity. He would really have a global community there. Thanks!

  • Well said. I’m jealous that you got to see him speak. I have never had that opportunity. Thanks for the comment Billy!

  • Seth is who he is today because of lots of stuff he did a long list of yesterdays ago. If he started up his blog today, he would have the same sort of “who the hell is this Seth dude?” issues you do. 

  • Wait a second Mark.

    Are you telling me that switching my blog from WordPress to Typepad was a bad idea??

    What the heck???!

    😉

    Great read man,

    Marcus

  • So you’re saying I have “who the hell is Seth issues?”  : )   At least I don’t sniff other dog’s butts.

  • Anonymous

    Keep up the awesomeness! A fine, spot-on post.

    This is also why I am not Guy Kawasaki. (See Guy’s approach to Twitter followers here – http://bit.ly/AyvNeu)

    I was persuaded by a marketing friend to adopt Guy’s approach to followers, and I had to give it up. I just didn’t understand what (other than plumping up my Klout scores) having MLM Salespeople, Shiny New Gadgets, and Mysterious Women with Exotic Names follow me was doing for me and those people I actually connect with.

    Completely agree with you: “People don’t want auto-tweeted ads for your blog. They want you. They want to make friends and build new business relationships. And then, maybe, just maybe, they will read your blog posts.”

    I propose an introvert’s form of social media – at a party, we can exchange/connect, but are also fine just sitting on the couch until an interesting looking person comes by holding something like, say, The Tao of Twitter.

  • Banking on it!  🙂  I love listening to peoples strategies on how best to “engage”…when the answer is right there in front of them.  Just engage!

  • Anonymous

    That raises a question – what to do about “social media fatigue”? I’m one of those who periodically drops off the radar – the overload I get in/from social media reminds me of the reason my favorite form of vacation (despite having a hubby I love and friends all around) is camping by myself.

    What to do when the small voice inside says, “I. Need. Quiet.”?

  • Not you you.. the generic you that your headline addresses. YOU are a GOD AMONG MEN.. but you already knew that 🙂

  • Mark,

    I’m working on a new project called the First 2 Years of Building an Empire and I start by warning people that there are no shortcuts and that for every success story you read about online, hundreds of hours and months of blood, sweat, tears, and blog posts have gone into the whole thing.

    When somebody says something along the lines of what your friends said, my response is  the famous quote “be yourself because every one else is taken.”  Nobody be Seth Godin and more than they could be Mark Schaefer

  • Time will tell I suppose.

  • Oooh. I like that. 

    I am a bit of an introvert too, except when I am in front of an audience : )   I much prefer over-coffee networking!

  • Scary thought. One of me is enough for most people!!  But I appreciate the sentiment Srini!

  • My question to you and Aaron is has Godin always been Mr. Non-Engagement? I haven’t been around long enough to know, but wouldn’t be have to become established through some interaction or major-ins? Or did one day Godin just appear and magically people lined up to get a piece of him?

    To another point, there is an inherent attraction with his strategy – He just oozes importance with that set-up… And people are like high-school girls, always going for that cocky kid that plays hard to get!

  • Much better. You may return to chasing cars now.

  • 🙂 And cars chase me and other dogs sniff my butt and thank me for it.. because I am the most interesting dog in the world. Stay thirsty, my friend.

  • Jayme

    Thinking about Seth Godin’s brand as I read this. There are few bloggers, yourself not included Mark, who have been able to realize true measures of success. As you say, it’s one blog post at a time.

    How long has Seth Godin’s brand been as strong as it is? I don’t know much about his backstory; perhaps because it’s one-way communication, but he had a brand before social media hit the webs. He had a blog before any of tried to launch one.

    What that says is that this man was/is a pioneer of sorts; however, his example is the wrong one to emulate. Inbound marketing has changed the way all businesses and bloggers do business.

    We all know what happens when bloggers close comments. We leave and don’t come back. We know what happens when a new Tweep locks follows; we leave and never follow. No engagement; no community. Simple.

  • Trying again; darn iPad makes it hard to comment on blogs.

    So…thinking about Seth Godin and the strength and duration (if you will) of his brand. His one-way communication probably allows him to ignore everyone and get tons of work done!

    Imagine bloggers who close comments; we move on. Imagine Tweeps who lock followers; we move on. No engagement, no business model and no community! Inbound marketing has changed how all of us do business and that includes bloggers.

    Mark, you’re a perfect example of someone who’s thrived on the one blog post at at time model. You’ve rocked it.

  • Junetse

    Interaction, thanks a lot for this! I have been staying here for whole day, learnt a lot, thAnks!!:-)

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  • Right!

    Seth was around doing all this stuff long before Twitter was a twinkle in the eyes of Biz, Jack and Evan. He’s done years of engagement with fans and followers via email and done his time posting every single day. He’s not using the same model as us because he doesn’t need to. If he wants to fill 70 places at a $3,000 a pop even he simply blogs it and he’s done.

    The shortcut wasn’t open to him and it isn’t open to you, me and your friend either.

    Thanks for a great nudge.

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  • I can see that.  If somebody were sniffing my butt I would probably consider that an honor too.*

    *AWARD for strangest blog comment ever

  • Seth really was (and is) a pioneer.  Honestly, I think if he opened up his comments it would totally ruin his brand at this point. It would be like putting a “follow me on Twitter” sticker on a Maserati. : ) 

    Thanks Jayme!

  • Awesome.  Thanks for the commitment! : ) 

  • Super observation Bernadette. Kind of what we were just discussing over skype! Thanks.

  • Love it… 

  • Marc, remember when social media was all about conversations?  Personally, I find Seth’s approach to be very old school, traditional marketing – he talks at us, tells us what he wants, then moves on. 

    Does he have interesting things to say?  Sure.

    But I, for one, am less and less interested in what he has to tell me…I prefer conversations versus ‘hero worship’.  So, if your friend thinks that’s the best approach…wish them the best for me.  I will focus on relationships, conversations

  • Tammy Kahn Fennell

    LOL at opening up a restaurant in the middle of the desert. Well put!
    Great article.  The thing with Twitter is that you really can network the hell out of it, and with geotargeting, niche targeting, “social curation” – you can really narrow the field and interact with people likely to be potential leads! In fact, that’s what we’re doing in our soon to be released new version of MarketMeSuite. We built it for your friend, the one who actually needs people listening to him, and the best way to get them to listen? Engage!
    ~Tammy, CEO @marketmesuite:twitter

  • A very valid view Pat. Certainly in the age of new media this is a risky strategy for most!  Your view is probably in the majority.

  • I call Seth an Anomaly.  Just like Lebron or Kobe… we can try to copy them, but we just look like idiots and our results look nothing like the original.  Thanks

  • Well said.  I especially find this true of new boggers.  Takes them awhile to realize they are not Chris Brogan : )  

  • Understood. Seth stands out among most in the blogging world and is sort of a category unto himself.

    But I still wonder what people think of not being able to comment on his blog. Who wants to chip their 2 cents back to him? Who wants to say “thanks for that” or “you’re nuts”? Who feels intimidated by him? Who wants to give him a hug?

    Just curious.

  • I would have to ask an important question…

    Why would you want to be Seth Godin?

    Why isn’t being yourself on the social web good enough?

    Plus…

    Seth got to the current point of his career by writing 13 best selling books, starting a few companies and enduring all the headaches that go with that (something we tend to overlook as humans in our glorification of the results entrepreneurs achieve).

    In short, he got to this point through hard work…it didn’t just fall into his lap.  He actually admits a time he failed, when he wrote a book about the web (Best of the Web) way back…while the Founders of Yahoo!  were busy creating that company.

    Sooo…

    If someone wants the results that Seth can obviously get now…they need to bust their butt for 15 years writing books, starting companies (successful ones), and writing 4000 blog posts…all while networking with successful people and building relationships.

  • My theory is he is creating mystery and scarcity.  Also, he is a huge proponent of focus and eliminating anything that is not core to his task at hand. Maybe he sees this as a rabbit hole. Which it is : ) 

    I would much rather be messing around you guys on the blog than doing client work!

  • Thou rocketh.

  • Personally, I do a digital de-tox. A hike in the mountains. A day on the boat. I force myself to go where there is no wifi!!

  • An advertisement cleverly disguised as a comment. Well played Tammy. : ) 

  • Yes, he has always been this way as far as I know. And I do think you have nailed it. There is something to be said for scarcity Tony!

  • Totally agree. My friend @webby2001 had a great comment the other day. Bands wondered why they couldn’t copy Radiohead’s model by selling music directly. Tom quipped, well, first be Radiohead!  Thanks Joseph!

  • Amen to @webby2001:twitter .

    But one point that I think gets missed — we shouldn’t strive to “be” _________.  Instead, we should strive to truly be ourselves and, as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, “work our faces off.”

    Who knows… the next “Seth Godin”, “Radiohead”, “Mark W. Schaefer” etc… could be one of the people who’ve already left a comment on this very blog today 😉

  • This is a central theme of this blog.  I believe that the ONLY way to differentiate ourselves is to be original and the only way to be original is to be ourselves. There is only one you. You have no competitors.

  • I am speaking from the perspective of someone who is not by nature, training, or activity focused on social media marketing, I had never heard of Seth Godin before I joined Twitter about 8 months ago. Since then I have seen his name mentioned frequently enough on a variety of blogs or in my stream that I decided to check out his blog. While the content was there, I saw there was no way to evaluate the community related to the blog because of the absence of comments. I looked at his Twitter profile and saw the absence of interaction. Therefore there was no real reason for me to follow him on Twitter OR subscribe to the blog. I don’t care how famous he is. I care why I joined Twitter (to network) and why I started to blog (to engage and build a community concerned with children’s healthcare). 

    So for your friend to succeed, he has to realize that everyone on Twitter will be starting their relationship with him as mine was to Seth Godin: wondering who the hell he is and what he has to offer. Some might happen to cross his path and notice his blog posts and decide to follow him, but most will not. 

    Love this post, thanks as always for excellent content and for having developed a great community here.

    P.S. I would suggest Tylenol and ice for the swelled head–too much ibuprofen is bad for your kidneys’ long term health.

  • Tammy Kahn Fennell

    Caught me 😉 No actually it started off as just a normal comment, but then i started thinking to myself, this is what i’ve been building for the better part of two years, and it happens to be a perfect match.  Hope you don’t mind. sometimes the pushy NY’er in me comes out, other times i can keep it at bay 😉

    Now that we’re chatting though, i would love to show you our newest stuff. Will be fully released end of month, but you can decide for yourself whether it’s a revolution.

    -Tammy

  • You took the words out of my mouth, Bernadette! Seth built his celebrity through books and thought leadership well before social media was around. Anyone who is already a celebrity doesn’t need to do the same things you and I need to through social media do to achieve success. 

  • Judi Ketteler

    I think you hit it on the head, Bernadette! Great blog post and interesting comments. Like seeing how different people respond to this idea.

  • Thanks for connecting today Judi.

  • Exactly! Nor do I WANT to be one! : )

  • Selling through my blog. Strike 2.

  • I take ibu all the time. Probably too much. I appreciate the advice! See, you just never know where this will lead. Maybe you improved my long-term health today. : )

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  • Thanks Judi, this post’s certainly got the cogs turning!

  • Totally agree with this post. People new to blogging (guilty as charged, started mine in late November) have to not only have ideas to write about, but a way to make those ideas spread. People don’t know you exist, so you help them acknowledge you by helping them. Ironic or not, lately I’ve started commenting more on blogs (like this one), participating on LinkedIn Groups and even answering a few things on Quora to know where I can help and how I can make my own ideas spread. It’s a long road ahead, but at least I feel I’m doing it right. Auto-tweets and mass follow? No thanks. My ego knows better than that.

  • You are really off to a great start Roberto.  This is exactly the right strategy for a new blogger. Good job!  Thanks for your comment!

  • It’s another one of those times where people see the current success of someone and fail to consider the years (or decades) of work they’ve put in to get to where they are today.

  • Yeah, that old overnight success thing!  Usually doesn’t work unless you are Justin Bieber.

  • Yeah but didn’t his Mom post videos of him on YouTube first? 🙂

  • Tammy Kahn Fennell

    Not selling, attempting to continue the conversation once one was started, but got your tweet.  I owe you 3 comments and 1 tweet. Tweet done, and as i’m a regular reader of your blog (first time commenter) some class comments are on their way to you 🙂

  • Yeah he was an over mom sensation

  • Right.  Another clever post! It’s all about creating relationships – authentic relationships.  

  • Thanks April!

  • I tell this to new bloggers and companies getting into social all the time. Talking about only yourself only works if you already have a ton of interest in you, like Google or Seth Godin. Not reaching out and building a network only works when you already have one that can carry you. Otherwise, you just come off as a conceited ass. 

    Seth Godin could blog exclusively about what he ate for breakfast that morning, and people would read the hell out of it. Google could devote a blog entirely to the carpeting in the Googleplex, and it would get a million visits a month. 

    You are not Google. You are not Seth Godin. Neither am I. You need to earn it, and you can’t fake it until you make it in this case. But there’s a lot of money to be made in lying to you and telling you that you can. For shame. Great post.

  • And this is why content is NOT king. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many great blogs with no readership, or incredible books with no sales. Without relationships, content gets us nowhere. 

  • It’s possible to go viral without a network (like Rebecca Black!) but it’s not possible to go viral without content. For most of us, You need the content AND the network. Thanks Ian!

  • Well said! Great comment.

  • 101 comments and Mark, Kudos to you on replying to nearly every one. That in itself is the lesson to social media. When folks “talk to you, or ask a question” you should reply!

    Social Media (be it a blog, Twitter, Facebook or whatever new platform comes our way) is all about social engagements. IT’S NOT ABOUT SELLING. You want friends? Do the same thing you’d do in real life. Get out there and find like minded people, join a group, be likeable, get to know folks, how they can help you, how you can help them, start offering advice, start conversations, get feedback, offer feedback…start relationships. I often call the social media space the World’s Largest Mixer Party. Act accordingly and don’t offer free gifts for people to like you. You wouldn’t give someone a table lamp at your house party, don’t try and buy friends online either.

    With regards to Mr. Godin, he’s tried, failed and tried again. That’s what you can take away from him. Why doesn’t he offer comments? Because that’s not his position. All of his content, be it books, blog, keynote etc. is about getting you thinking. He gives you a kernel and it’s up to you to put it in hot oil to pop it! Start a Tribe. Be a Bootstrapper. Be a Purple Cow. What’s Your Free Prize. etc. etc. etc. He doesn’t want your comment, he wants you to act!

    And that is my wooden nickles worth.

  • Thanks for adding your perspective today Christopher. I believe you might be new around these parts? Welcome!

  • Liz Dennery Sanders

    Great post, Mark. It’s true: unless you’re a celebrity, online or off, you’ve got to connect and engage.

    I will say, however, that Seth Godin isn’t completely hands-off. I’ve heard from a number of sources that he responds to every single email he receives. I’m not sure if this is true, but a number of folks I know have reached out to him and received a response from the master himself.

    While he chooses not to engage through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, he engages nonetheless.

  • Liz Dennery Sanders

    Great post, Mark! Unless you’re a celebrity, online or off, you’ve got to connect and engage to build your brand and your business.

    However, I have heard through multiple sources that Seth responds to every single email he receives. While I can’t confirm this to be true, many people I know have emailed him and received a response from the master himself.

    So while he doesn’t use social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook to engage, it appears that he does choose to engage through other mediums.

  • I have heard nothing but good things about Seth and his personal interactions and  I admire his work (well. most of it!)  Thanks Liz.

  • No

    you used word ” tribe” and are obviously a seth fanboi.

    dig beneath the surface…he’s no different than others. he carefully crafted a public face, while working hard as a dog.

  • Shawn Carson

    Glad to have been able to participate in a small way. Great post and all good points. That said, in two months, I’ve gained more followers with my broadcast approach than on a year with my Twitter account. We’ll see how it goes.

  • guilty as charged

  • Yet if you are the purple cow, standing out so boldly you could skyrocket to success. For the rest of us though, there are no shortcuts. 🙂

  • Pingback: Online Word of Mouth Requires Friction « Rust Reviews, LLC, DBA IX Brand SEO Services Company | Online Reputation | Local SEO Consultant | Houston, TX()

  •  A textbook example of how not to comment. Spam is spam… no matter how you try to dress it up. 🙁

  • Tammy Kahn Fennell

    Hi Marti,

    Mark and I have worked it out, but fair enough.
    Mark recently wrote a great article on my blog, and I’m really enjoying his new book, so I think we’ve made amends 😉
    -Tammy

  • He actually wrote a blog post about why he turned comments off, if I remember correctly, part of the reason was he wanted to encourage people to continue the discussion using their own blogs and linking back to his post.

    There were others, like focus, the number of comments he used to get (check the early posts for how many he used to get… the guy’s posts were comment machines)

  • I always tell folks, “when you have your own action figure like he does, THEN you can phone it in. Until then, you gotta play the game like the rest of us.” 🙂

  • Just saw you tweet this post Mark, and although it’s from last year it still rings true.

    My husband has been building websites since the 90s – he painstakingly coded static pages himself, learned everything there was to know about SEO, and patiently grew his audiences. When I started to blog, he was amazed at the hits I got right off the bat. They were extremely modest, but compared with his knowledge and expectations regarding nascent websites, they were pretty healthy.

    I put off starting a blog for a long time, and even now I barely find the time to write a post more than every month or two. But I’d been making connections on Twitter for more than two years before I ever published – and that’s what counted. As you say, people make friends first, and then they might just read your blog.

  • Seth Godin is an author, and there is tremendous machinery to help authors become household words. It isn’t the same as, say, a marketing director, working in the trenches, also trying to gain an audience via social, better participate with other smart folks, etc. Different goals, different methods. Sure, there is crossover, but I place great value in conversing with people who are actually on the front lines, responsible for making the meter move.

  • Ha! Is that true? Are you sure it wasn’t Professor X or something? : )

  • Well said Sheli. Congratulations on your early success and keep at it! It takes persistence.

  • Superb comment Marty and I totally agree!

  • I wonder if part of Seth’s unique marketing strategy that works for him is that people comment on other blogs about him and so the word spreads . . . um, like here.

    As an individual/author how would he retain meaningful engagement with such a large likely pool of commentors and fans without needing to employ others. How do you maintain quality of commenting when Seth has a highly distinctive way of thinking and writing? So one perspective is that he’s managing quality control without having to deal with scalability.

    Another Twitter user whom I follow that has a similar approach to Seth is @tinybuddha. The content works because the brand is so clear on what it offers. As a reader I can consume a small number of such accounts, but there’s not room for too many more in my stream as I’m interested in engagement.

    Great post, Mark. I’ve been a lurker here for a few years. My first comment here.

  • Brian Clark

    Godin wrote the most influential book in online marketing — Permission Marketing — in 1999, plus several other landmarks since. He’s been blogging since then or a bit before. And he used to have comments on his blog until around 2009 or so.

    In other words, what you see now is not exactly what got him here, and he started way before most anyone. Beyond that, he is also amazingly talented.

    I point out the same general thing as this post when people say they want to write vague, clever headlines like Seth. You’re not Seth Godin, and you don’t have his huge loyal following that will open anything he sends, so it’s not going to work for you.

  • chrisgarrett

    Even though he turned off comments, he continued to be *amazingly* responsive to emails.

    Sometimes what you don’t see is just as important as what you do see. Emulating someone’s visible activities can send you astray unless you ask ‘why’ and ‘what am I NOT seeing’.

  • jessica

    Hm. Interesting. Not sure I completely agree. Seth didn’t just have a tribe sitting around waiting for his blog. He built his tribe by putting in the work for 20+ years.

    Put in the work, spend years focusing and cutting through corporate BS, come out of it with a blog with interesting and helpful things to say and, no, I don’t think you need to blast social media to gain a tribe. The tribe will find you.

  • I’m not saying Seth didn’t put in the work. I’m not taking anything away from that But I’m also saying hs ie a celebrity and there is a difference.

    If Bill Clinton started a blog, he would have an instant following. Yes, he put in the work too but we should not think we can model our possiblity of success off of what a celebrity can achieve.

    Thanks very much for your comment Jessica.

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