Social Media: The Hatfields Versus The McCoys

Holy smokes, the nerve of some people.

As a specific example (not that he needs me to stick up for him), Chris Brogan seems to be coming under fire because he’s re-organizing his business (key words: his business)…and on The Infopreneur, there are a few people are actually whining about how much he engages his audience, how he might “brag” too much on his blog, has a “smug” attitude, or even how the freely given content isn’t “valuable” to some people any more.

And on, and on…

These “haters of Social Media marketers” seem to be coming out in droves lately…and it’s actually really disappointing to me to see fellow human beings acting this way towards others.

So it’s time to call this group out.

Where the hell does anyone get off criticizing someone for taking “less” time to provide ANY free content that they could use to improve their businesses or lives AT ALL?

It’s free content folks, so it will come when it comes…

and heaven forbid someone actually tries to make money while recommending affiliate products using their own blogs, or even the Social Media (not referring to spamming, or any other illegal activities)…

because we are (for the most part) adults, not children, but when someone is selling something via FREE content, especially when they provide WAY more free content than selling, that’s not wrong, it’s the business of marketing folks.  It doesn’t matter what tools you’re using.

I just don’t get it.  Has Chris (or any other ethical free content provider) scammed you out of your money or something?  No?

I’d venture a guess that you could in fact get a full refund of all the money you paid for reading his blog if you wanted (oh wait…it’s free content freely given by the time and energy of the individual providing it…sorry).

These exchanges usually center around people offering their opinion about said free content provider, and that opinion is one they are entitled to for sure, but the problem and my issue comes when those opinions evolve into what I define as a Social Media virus (term coined by Nathan Hangen).

Some believe you can use Social Media as a business tool, and some believe you shouldn’t…and guess what?  You’re both right, so leave the other side to their OWN desires and the way they want to pursue them, with what tools they want to use to pursue those desires, including using social media tools to make money if they want.

My personal take on the Social Media as it applies to the business world is the Social Media represents a set of engagement tools, and that’s it. Tools to use at a business owner’s discretion to reach out to an audience of people that have chosen to follow them.

(Using Chris Brogan’s business as an example, 45,000-plus people have chosen to follow him…and if they don’t feel there is a reason to do that any more…they shouldn’t, period)

A big secret here is…tools don’t replace people, nor are tools responsible for establishing any “rules” that govern how to use those tools in an ethical, 100% legal, and moral manner.

Some people, suffering the Social Media Virus, have somehow manufactured the “proper” way to use Social Media…and the truth is, there is way more than one “proper” way.

Since we live in a capitalist society…those tools are available for use in the art of making money while engaging audiences…

…or to contact friends and family members…

…or to reconnect with past acquaintances…

…and on, and on…and I respect the fact that not everyone uses the Social Media in their business-building efforts.  That’s totally ok (not that it has to be ok with me, but it is), and the main Social Media sites are in fact great tools to connect with people for other reasons as well.

But the people who whine about those who are in the business world using Social Media tools to market, make a profit, and engage other people towards that end…well…sometimes they just make me sick.

And I’ve bottled it up for long enough, this had to be written in my opinion.

It reminds me of a couple of two-year olds fighting over a toy in a playroom.  One two-year old says that toy is “theirs”…and the other says “they won’t share with me”.

Come on folks…the tools are available, use them as you see fit (legally, morally, and ethically of course) and quit worrying about how other people choose to use these tools (don’t we have bigger fish to fry anyhow?).  If a person chooses to use Social Media in an illegal, unethical, or immoral manner…life will at some point punish those people, guaranteed.

So, let’s quit coming back to some fantasy land where Social Media can only be used for “noble” or “non-moneymaking” purposes eh?

And if you’re suffering from the Social Media virus…

Social Media Virus symptoms: whining on blogs and forums about who is using the Social Media to make money, picking apart caring people with larger businesses built on one thing…then having to evolve because of that growth…or just because you might be jealous of another person because their business is WAY more successful than yours…

…get over yourselves. We’re all people with lives, emotions, and different reasons for doing what we do…let’s all grow up and act like it.  Who put you in charge of how the Social Media is to be used anyhow?

If someone wants to use Social Media as part of building and growing their business…let’s let ‘em, and if they don’t, let’s let ‘em too…but let’s not continue a “Hatfields vs. McCoys” thing over something that quite frankly is so trivial.

(By the way, who cares actually?  Quit following an individual if you don’t feel value is being delivered and stop whining about it, that’s your choice.  People like Chris Brogan aren’t the only ones who have experienced great success by building a business around “giving freely” then having to change that direction a little as their business evolves, nor will they be the last)

Life is way too short to worry about whether or not Chris Brogan, or anyone else for that matter, comments on their blog enough, or whether he needs to change his business model (which I imagine will still provide value for free on a different scale). Instead, let’s just get back to building our own businesses…and perhaps grow them to a level we can be proud of.

Quite frankly, if you grow a business to the level that a Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, or any of the other “social media stars” have…then you will experience the very same set of challenges they are trying to overcome right now as well, guaranteed.

One of those challenges will unfortunately include some “group” of people who suffer a “virus” similar to the Social Media virus, where they will try to tear down your own success, and when (not if) that happens…

What will you do about that?

I think that once you answer that question comprehensively for yourself first…then and only then could you comment on how a Chris Brogan or Gary Vaynerchuk could be running their businesses better and recommend the tools they are using.

/rant :)

Until the next time we look in the mirror together,

–Joseph Ratliff

P.S. Before you fire up your email program, or comment below…I want to state that yes, I actually suffered the same virus I’ve listed above, until I understood why that virus existed in me…and I cured myself of it for the most part (I’m human, so I do and will continue to make mistakes).

This post comes as a result of a “pent up” rant (which feels good to get off my chest), so if it does offend you, it’s possible you might be infected too. :)

It isn’t my intention to offend people, I just feel this topic serves as a good lesson for everyone as the Internet allows us a medium to publish our unabated opinions. :)