You’re not Seth Godin, so get working

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Warning…. rant ahead.. sorta.. 

Everyone wants to achieve greatness but how many of us are willing to put the work to be one step closer to it?

One of the common mistakes that most individuals or businesses do when they go on to social networking sites is thinking they are Seth Godin

Wouldn’t it be great to be like him? Seth Godin is NOT spending any time at all on social media but is seeing great results from it.

I mean how great will it be to simply push out a contest and see people sharing it immediately.

I don’t want to pop your bubble and I’m going to be brutally honest with you, the sad reality is it’s not that easy.

Every day I see businesses push out content after content, links after links, posts after posts without seeing any results or lack of engagement from it. But what’s the problem with these contents? It’s not quality content.

Even Facebook doesn’t want those rubbish on their network. I bet that is why they created Edgerank in the first place – an algorithm that highlights the pages you’ve engaged with before and decides who should be on your newsfeed based on the level of engagement.

Edgerank knows that if you don’t respond to them, it means that you’re not interested and therefore it won’t show it to you in the future.

The three pillars of success on social media.

To be able to achieve success on social media, I believe that there are at least three basic fundamentals. Most of you may be familiar with it and it really isn’t some big secret. The three pillars are:

  1. Audience
  2. Content
  3. Engagement

I’m not here to tell you whether you should build audience or content first. I believe that it is like a chicken and egg situation, so I will say… build all three at once.

You’re not Seth. He doesn’t need to have engagement. That is because he has built an amazing network of influential people who are using social media from his New York Times bestseller books, his seminars, and his events. They do all the engagement and sharing for him.

We’re different. We all need to start from the bottom and work up to be a thought leader like Seth. YES, that involves you doing work…. lots of it. 

If you don’t want to do it, then you might as well hire someone who is passionate in doing them for you and you can focus on what you’re great at.

Social media is like a conference

When you go to a conference, do you shout and talk about your products all the time?

Well if you do, I hope we don’t meet at any conferences…..

Social media is like a conference. Your likes and follows are like exchanging business cards. (sorta)

It doesn’t translate into immediate business straight away. Sure, you can get a million business cards, but if you aren’t following up, sharing your knowledge, networking with people. You get nothing.

You have to work at it. You need to talk start putting an effort to listen to people’s problems and show them how your products can help them. It takes a lot of time.

A solid network takes time to nurture …. <tweet this>

…. and so does building relationships on social media. Some people will want to know you, some won’t. Hey that’s life.

Don’t focus too much on those who won’t, but focus on those who will. That is something I truly believe in.

People always say “relationship is key” in social media. Why? That is because you need to gain their trusts if you want them read, share your content, or buy from you.

Here is a quote from an amazing man.

The more people trust you, the more they buy from you.’’

–David Ogilvy

So…. Stop being an ‘askhole’. An ‘askhole’ is a person who keeps asking but isn’t giving. We have plenty of them already. Start by giving and not asking.

If you’re new…

Start by building the three pillars I mentioned earlier. Start by joining twitter chats, guest posting, engaging with people, networking with at least five new people a day, commenting on blogs (comment on mine too), share other people’s post, compliment someone and really mean it.

What I am trying to say is, social media essentially takes a lot lot lot lot lot of time and effort. We have to put in the time and effort before reaping its rewards.

Image: by Umair Mohsin (creative commons) , _neb’s

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  • Tim Henningsen

    Not a rant at all.This post = quality content. Thanks Aaron!

  • Kameel Vohra

    A rant (thats not a rant) and definately worth reading. Lots of people (like to) forget about the fact that hard work is still required to build *anything*

  • Aaron Lee

    Wow, thank you so much for the compliment Tim. Appreciate it.

  • Aaron Lee

    Right on Kameel. Like in real life, we’re seeing how others are achieving success but not often do we see how much time and effort they put in.

  • Florian Saugues

    Nice rant, but a realistic one (and not to harsh on the ranting), but I disagree with something though.

    As a passionate, I think the first reward of social media is the single fact of seeing somebody caring enough about what you wrote to comment or reply on Twitter :) (at least, that’s where i’m at right now). If someone can’t enjoy that, imho, he should stop it.

  • Aaron Lee

    Spot on about that Florian, I believe in that too, however, they can’t see that reward if they don’t put the effort and be interested in what others have to say too. (well not all of course)

  • Anneliz Hannan

    Not so much a rant but honest advice from a mentor. Seth Godin is indeed successful but he has done his work by creating great content, engaging and developing his audience. I have yet to meet the person who has achieved success without putting in the effort.

    You are also the perfect example of success built from trust and now you reap the loyalty. No doubt from your continual hard work and persistent efforts for excellence.

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  • Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    Modeling success is one of fastest ways to get from where you are to where you want to be. But you have to be very wary of the success practices you’re modeling and make sure they’re appropriate for where you are now in your evolution.

    One huge problem I can see arriving when imitating Seth Godin’s blog posts is that of ignoring the Four Learning Styles – “What”, “Why”, How-To”, and the “What If”.

    What David Kolb, from Harvard University discovered is that there are four ways that people learn, learning styles if you will. And conversely, there are four teaching styles and more often than not, the way we learn is the way that we teach.

    Understanding these four styles will allow you to communicate like a Jedi and will lead to you getting the results you want, which in the business of information marketing, means that people will flock to you and seek out your wisdom.

    if you don’t master these learning styles, you’re making it easy for people to be repelled by you because spending time with your content makes them feel irritated, confused or just plain dumb. And this contributes massively to people not paying attention when you talk.

    We all learn different and because of this, we all absorb and appreciate information at a different level.

    Most content you see on the web completely ignores “Why” the members of your audience need to learn your
    technique – what are they gonna get, what are they gonna avoid?

    Or, they don’t explain “What” it is – the theory behind it, the science
    behind it, the history behind it, the story of how you came up with it.

    Or, they don’t appeal to the “How-To” learner by explaining at least three simple action steps on How To do it.

    Or, they don’t appeal to the “What If” learner by telling them what they need to go do right now to start the ball rolling so that the desired outcome gets the momentum it needs in order to drive it to completion.

    I love Seth’s musings on his blog like this one here but I am sad to say that it, like the majority of the others on the site, doesn’t take all four of our learning styles into consideration . . .

    Coming from a loud place

    Despite your instincts, almost all big change, almost all important organizations, almost all the stuff that matters doesn’t get launched big, from the loud place, on the front page of the paper or on the Super Bowl or on a popular blog.

    No, the stuff that changes everything starts on the fringe, captures
    the imagination of a dozen, who bring along colleagues or friends, and
    then it’s a hundred and then…

    Make whatever list you want: Twitter, Kiva, 500px, Pure Food and
    Wine, Jiro… They all became hits without being anointed by the loud
    folks first. Instead of cajoling your way into the spotlight, consider investing in the experience first.


    This is only one of many posts on Seth’s site but it’s definitely representative of 95% or more of what you see there.

    35% or so of people favor the “Why” learning style but this piece doesn’t really address why you shoudn’t be concerned about coming from a loud place (which is where he’s coming from).

    It barely gives an answer to the question the “What” learner is seeking “What are you teaching?”

    It gives zero answer to the “How-To” learner who’s looking for the recipe for how to accomplish this feat.

    It gives zero answer to the “What If” learners which are made up predominately of a market potentially best served by him – entrepreneurs – and their question of, “What can I do to put this into play now and start seeing results from it?

    . . . and despite the fact that his blog is full of incomplete communications that makes hunks of his audience not take his information seriously because it doesn’t answer their primary learning style, he’s built up massive popularity.

    But what I’m wondering is that if Seth had to start all over again from scratch in this niche, writing under a name no one had ever heard of before, would writing blog posts like this get shared and “Liked” by the hundreds?

    Is this the post style that works best, or has Seth’s fame launched him beyond the pull of gravity where the minimum of amount of fuel is needed to keep the Seth shuttle coasting through the market?

    One of the most important things you want to know when modeling someone’s success is finding out what they did when they were a nobody that led to them becoming a somebody.

    I don’t believe this posting style would launch anyone starting from scratch, to fame. And, in the same light, I would love to be proven wrong. But if I was proven wrong, I’d be sadly disappointed that people are so beaten down that they’d reached a point where they think learning only about having theory and realizations when in reality, learning is behavior change and behavior change only comes as a result of having ruthlessly executing a plan of action.

    Absorbing more and more theory is a behavior trait of people who are afraid of taking action because if they actually do something they’re new at, then they have a high probability of falling flat on their face which means in their mind that they’re “Wrong” which is their definition of hell on earth which leads to these people feeling like they’ve accomplished something if they’ve read a blog post. Their satisfaction comes from consumption rather than action as a result of consumption.

    It’s hard to argue with Seth’s dominant online presence and I wish him massive continued success and my question is, “How high is high? How much more of a tangible, measurable impact could he have on the business owners of the world if instead of only distributing theory, he delivered theory infused with cohesive and concise action plans?”

    One thing I have to bring up is that I’ve never read a book Seth has written. One reason I believe this be so is that some part of me knows that how we do anything is how we do everything so if his blog posts are merely theory that don’t give me actionable information, why would his books be any different? But hey, I might be wrong. His books might be the complete opposite of his posts and this is what props up his massive influence but it’s hard for me to imagine this being the case.

    I know it isn’t easy to structure complete communications which is why it would be so appealing for people to follow Seth’s breezy blog post style, but a complete message that caters to a broad audience is something that I believe is of crucial importance if you want to not only inspire, but also prepare the highest possible percentage of your audience that you’re teaching to go out into the real world and get results.

    And this is why I respect what Seth has accomplished but I don’t mimic his style and feel it’s dangerous for anyone just starting out to do so.

  • Chris Wilcox

    It’s not just good advice for building social media – it’s good advice for being human, too. :) The more things change, the more they sometimes stay the same.

  • Zied Ben soltana

    one of the most refreshing posts for 2012! Keep on! :)

  • Christopher A. Craft

    This post should be read by every up and coming content creator and marketer. Great job.

  • Rijk Willemse


  • Sophie Langford

    Act like a human! After all that is what we are.

  • Aaron Lee

    Amen to that! 😀

  • Aaron Lee

    Thank you sir!

  • Aaron Lee

    Wow, thanks you for the compliment Christopher.

  • Aaron Lee

    Reading this comment just made my day! thank you so much for the compliment!

  • Aaron Lee

    Thank you for adding that to the conversation! Agree wholeheartedly.

  • Aaron Lee

    Hi Anneliz, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for the amazing comment and compliment. I appreciate it.

  • Leticia Polese

    Wow! Amazing post, Aaron!

  • can ogun

    Great post. The perception for the social media activities is more important than the amount of work spent on it. If you are a newbie, you must read this article. If you are not, then read it to be more productive :-)


    Great post and it was just what I needed to hear today! Thanks!

  • Vanai

    This is so true Aaron. We totally need to keep that in mind.

  • susie carranza studio

    awesome post; will definitely save this for future reference!

    and love the term “askhole”. :)

  • Janet Aldrich

    What I hate about Edgerank is that it doesn’t seem to take into account inactivity. I have friends who don’t spend much time on FB. But when they do, I’d like to hear from them — problem is I never seem to, unless I’m proactive and I search them out. I wish FB would show me everything and let ME block what I don’t want to see — I have a couple of “friends” who shellack my feed every afternoon, and I’ve blocked them. I’m enough of a grownup to determine these things for myself.

  • Terry

    Valuable information for starter like me. Thanks for sharing.

  • Helena Roth

    I’m with you on this one!!

  • Praverb

    Aaron this post is on point. I used to always wonder why Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki refrained from engagement. After reading this article it makes sense. They have built their audience based on the things that you shared earlier.

    More engagement less links! That is what I am learning. Thank you Aaron.