The Me Talk Contradiction

To talk about yourself more or less. That is the question.

by Jason Falls |

Chris Brogan thinks he doesn’t talk enough about himself on social channels.

WARNING: Some of this will be a little inside baseball in the social marketing world, but bear with me … there’s an interesting debate to be had here.

Before we get all wrinkled nose, Chris and I are friends. I’d say good friends, though we don’t spend nearly enough time together. I love him and everything he does. We don’t always agree on everything, but I’ve considered him a friend and even mentor for some time.

Chris Brogan - Owner MagazineBut when he threw up a post yesterday entitled, “You Can’t Talk About Yourself Enough, Apparently,” I’m certain that 80 percent of the social media it-getters couldn’t help but laugh. Chris is very good at talking about himself. Not in a sleazy way, mind you, but his narrative is normally first person and focused on lessons learned, etc.

He’s also a very successful affiliate marketer. This is where you hock your stuff (and sometimes someone else’s stuff) at levels some people would find incessant.

Bottom Line: Chris doesn’t need to talk about himself more. Much more and a few of us would get turned off.

However, in his piece, he outlines how he is shocked that still some of his audience is unaware he is the publisher of Owner magazine. This is the project Chris has been passionately pursuing for the last few months and, as he admits, it’s all he talks about.

He is beating a drum and some people — astonishingly — aren’t hearing it.

The Problem Of Frequency

What Chris has, in my opinion, is a problem of frequency. When you talk too much, your audience — even a willing one — sees but doesn’t hear. They see the Facebook or Twitter or Google+ posts roll by, they get the email newsletter, but the consistency and repetition make them expected and normal. They don’t stand out, even if the content does. So a portion of the audience doesn’t actually read them. They don’t actually click through. They don’t really even consume the content. It’s just made available to them if they wish to.

Chris could talk about nothing but Owner magazine for the next year and a certain number of his audience members wouldn’t know about it. This is because they’ve become so lulled into seeing the same allotment of posts from Chris in their stream, they pass over them looking for the new, shiny object.

The Problem of Infrequency

But the situation Chris is in produces an interesting Catch-22 in the world of content algorithms. Without frequency, Facebook will show your posts to fewer people. The volume is necessary to maintain even a chance of getting organic reach. While the same is not true for Twitter or Google+ (as far as I know), the less you hit your networks with a message, the less chance you have that the maximum number of people will see it.

Ideas On A Fix

If we continue to deliver the same level of awesome, over time that level is average.

Certainly, I don’t believe Chris needs to post more or less. But I do believe we all suffer from a similar problem. Our content was outstanding enough at one point for the audience member to opt in to it. But if we continue to deliver the same level of awesome, over time that level is average. It sounds contradictory, but you only need a 5 on a scale of 1-10 to get someone’s attention the first time. You need an 8 or a 9 to get it again.

The best way to control who sees your posts is to funnel that audience to a medium you control: Email. No algorithm is going to screw with your chances of your audience seeing your email messages. So long as the audience member white labels you from spam folders (which is just the cost of doing business), you will get in their inbox. So long as they view their inbox at some point, they will have to take an action on your message.

But even then, you can’t guarantee they’re going to read it, right? The only answer to that problem — in email, on Facebook or anywhere else — is to continually one-up your own content. You have to push to make every element you push better than the last. You have to create a thirst in your audience that is unquenchable without opening that next newsletter, reading that next Tweet or viewing that next video.

What this means is that marketing success in today’s consumer attention-deficit environment is ultimately self-destructive. You will eventually implode from the pressure of getting continually better. But at least we can approach our content knowing the cost of making it successful.

What Say You?

What do you think? Do you notice dependable content resources floating by in your stream that you unintentionally ignore these days? How can we be a signal to our already opt-in audience with our messages when their streams are overloaded with noise? Is managing frequency up or down the answer? Is it about making better content?

The comments, as always, are yours.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).