phoenix wordcamp 2009

Should you use social if the “real you” isn’t interesting?

Phoenix Wordcamp 2009

Phoenix Wordcamp 2009

Just got back from Phoenix Wordcamp, and it was very hit or miss – the first half of the day’s speakers were… well, lacking.

But everyone later in the day was stellar, especially Merlin Mann’s “Something Something Social Media: The Overdue Minority Report,” which wasn’t really a minority report at all, since his opinions of social media were largely preaching to the choir: Stop trying to game people, stop worrying about your followers, post quality content… and so say all of us.

What I really found interesting, though, was a phrase he shared during a bit about Brand Management: “‘Brand Management’ is only necessary if you’re being fake, or you’re being boring.”

Fair enough – if you’re being your real self on social networks, there’s no reason to have to measure out what you say about yourself and how you say it.

But what if you are boring?

Well, in my opinion, if you don’t have anything necessarily interesting or useful to share with people, you probably shouldn’t be blogging. If your Twitter posts are all the stereotypical bits about meals you’ve had and where you’re going after work, you probably shouldn’t expect a superstar following. And if you have a business that has nothing worth sharing regularly, you really need to stop trying.

It’s a bit elitist, though, isn’t it? When everyone says your business has to be involved in some way with social media, if you are a bore, what else are you supposed to do? Brand management – whether you’re a person or a business – is designed to calculate presentation so you can control what people think of you.

It’s basic PR: Mel Gibson was being himself a couple of years ago when he got pulled over for drunk driving. His being “real” didn’t do him any favors. (Though you have to at least give him this – he wasn’t boring.) Clearly, brand management is useful. Maybe some people are good enough and smart enough and interesting enough that they don’t need to think about it, but for everyone else it can be pretty important stuff.

Maybe that kind of elitism is good. Maybe it’s just common sense that if you don’t have something to say, you shouldn’t be trying to speak.

Sometimes being yourself and being interesting are mutually exclusive. If that’s the case, the next Wordcamp, or Podcamp, or SMAZ, or whichever Internet publishing event we all go to should have a panel on how it isn’t necessary to be involved in social media. Not just the usual, “video isn’t for everyone,” “blogging isn’t for everyone,” or “Twitter isn’t for everyone” warnings. But really, if you have a business in a boring industry, and you’re as boring as it is, maybe you really should just concentrate on your SEO and PPC and media buys for your web site instead of worrying about how to jazz up a blog.

If we can’t do that, then we need to stop talking about the tools of social media, and start talking about strategies for content.