Friday, January 15, 2010

Social Media and Being Almost Famous

A career can cross a lot of paths. The two gentlemen in the photo are standing about twenty feet from my office door. One is an exec at our company and the other is one of our business partners. I'll let you figure out who they are. Hint: the short one worked for a much more famous executive and the tall one is, tall, even in sneakers.

In all the fun of the Tweety Bird posts, I've been thinking about the social media aspects of our careers. I am pointedly not a social media expert. I've been around about twice as long as the folks sporting that badge have. As a musician, one time actor, still writing and recording because it's like the breathing habit, hard to shake, I do know a little bit about media.

Take a look at this graph. It's from my YouTube insight page.

The left and right sides are different to say the least, and the number of countries where I can't imagine having fans, I do. I learn a lot from the Insight stats. A picture is worth whatever it's worth but the dramatic increase in views of my videos can't be argued with and there are only two causes: 1) posting more frequently and 2) Facebook. Of the two, the second is the engine: Facebook.

So even for the hobbyist, if you want to put work in front of people, you have to find them and Facebook is rather good for that. I've a MySpace music page as well and there is nothing like these results to be had there. Twitter? If I want a bigger first day release bounce, Twitter would be a way to get that but frankly, Twitter wastes too much time on trivia and not being a fully-developed attentivore, I don't have it to waste. Yet I know some fairly famous people (actually, some very famous people) and those relationships don't get me those kinds of results in page views. That takes real fans, friends and the mildly curious.

Social media is here to stay and for those careers that do rely on being famous or almost famous (mine doesn't), careful use of social media such as Facebook is a skill you need these days as other aspects of the media industry are collapsing. Would I go hire a social media expert for that? Possibly but probably not. It isn't that hard to figure out unless of course, Vanity Fair calls, but until then, use it while it's still free.

And have fun!


John Cowan said...

How about on being the most famous person that most people have never heard of?

Len Bullard said...

I think Tim Bray gets that honor. More than most haven't heard of me. My fame would be plotted on the left bottom quadrant.

Though in some ways the VF6 brouhaha reminds me of the mid 90s on the web with the XML crowd taking it and ourselves all a little too seriously.

I look back over my time on this planet and the truth is, almost all of the really good and lasting things that happened to me happened after I shifted away from being a performer. Growing a family, building a home, making a contribution to the tax man, all of that takes more stability than I ever had as a guitar wielding folkie cum rocker great fun though it was.

These gals didn't do anything the average 30 something isn't doing in terms of trying to stand proud, talk loud and draw a crowd. They even make the same mistakes we did that somehow that is more meaningful than it is a very temporary situation. Day will go on to have a full career. The others? Hard to tell. Being babelicious is awfully thin ice and lasts not at all, and given the replacement rate made possible by the very technologies they espouse, even less long than that.

John Cowan said...

I remember that Sinbad (not the sailor) described himself that way in an interview.

My moment of almost fame was XML 2001, where many had heard of me but almost nobody knew what I looked like. (Since I have face blindness, this is the world I live in all the time.) High/low point: I listened to someone's talk, asked a question, and got what I thought was a perfectly good answer. When I went up to the presenter and introduced myself, he said "Oh! If I'd known you were John Cowan, I would have given you a better answer." Embarrassed, I replied "I hope not."

Len Bullard said...

My sense of meeting you at first was surprise. You don't look like yourself. Then relief: I don't have to apologize because he gets it. Then joy: this man is my friend and always was even before I knew it.

Smarts are good and useful but kindness of heart is a blessing and a gift, John. You've both but while the first earned my respect only the second garnered friendship.

It isn't how many are on the list; it's who.

John Cowan said...


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