Five Methods Agency Execs Use To Destroy Their Own Credibility

KRyan_031I know what you are thinking, only five? Well, I am sure there are more, but lately the volume of jack wittery in these five areas has grown exponentially among the digital marketing set. Or maybe I’m just overly sensitive.  Of course the most repellent thing I’ve found about this biz is the unending flow of listicles with titles like “Five Things You Won’t Believe,” but I digress…

  1. Posting about industry events without talking about the contentI love going to industry events, particularly as a speaker. Advising conference content folks from a practitioner’s perspective on how to build a better event has been one of the great pleasures of my career.Digital marketing experts, both peer-validated and self-declared, figured out long before we had social media subject matter analysis tools how to manipulate information consumption. Today, it’s so much easier to look at the terms people use to pander to the crowd by analyzing data.  Cue a hail of posts focusing on what to wear, the best places to booze and my personal  favorite –  people so clearly desperate for attention complaining about getting too much attention, then attempting to dictate the terms of their attention-getting to the masses.

    Don’t want people to bug you? Stop posting flagrantly attention-attracting material from your 17 Twitter accounts about how popular you are, with pictures of yourself wearing a day-glow jumper surrounded by industry people.

    When you become a legend in your own social feed, it’s easy to find yourself firmly planted in your own posterior.  What people generally don’t realize about becoming a “personality” in the industry is that “personality” and “practicing expert” are mutually exclusive.  People that matter know the difference between someone that has earned it and someone who declared himself an industry expert and bought a publicist.

  1. Creating an Echo ChamberThis is probably something only the insiders know about and it’s rarely called out because everyone does it. The principals of hundreds of digital strategy agencies think it’s cool to assemble three dozen or so social accounts to broadcast at one another, build a false sense of popularity and call that marketing. It’s not marketing kids, it’s gaming and you look like fools to your peer group and anyone else that has the slightest bit of knowledge as to how this stuff works.Also, stop asking questions with one persona on Quora and answering them with another. It’s all so sad.
  1. Using personal social feeds to preach to the choirHere’s the biggest violation perpetrated on industry humanity. It’s also the second most self-indulgent practice in which one can engage. What has always baffled me about one using one’s personal social channel to sell one’s peer group on one’s expertise is the inherent ineffectuality. It’s like calling and trying to convince your mother you are super awesome.Overt self-positioning to people who have already earned your respect will only serve to fast track you to stooge status. In the tradition of the now famous JC Silicon Valley profile picture post, I hereby declare that if I like you, I already think you are super special.  You don’t have to tell me about it every day. And if you do  at least try to make your post personally relevant.

    And by that I don’t mean meme running. (#ebola. #washingtonredskins, etc.)  John Oliver said it best when discussing the nature of corporations inserting themselves into social discussions.  “Your silence is never going to be controversial.” You don’t need to be in on every conversation about a trending issue.

  2. Proclaiming that “Content is King”The first time someone etched an image on a cave wall or pounded something into a stone tablet, content became king. You didn’t invent it.  The guy next to you with an e-book on content marketing didn’t invent it, either.  But the claims to ownership of content marketing are the least of my worries.The concept of quality over quantity seems to get lost all too frequently.  People rarely say what’s actually on their minds and answering questions no one asked you because it looks like search fodder isn’t a path to engagement glory.

    At least 10 times a day, I get broadcast social shares with titles like “how to win with content.”  The sheer volume of content marketing experts is terrifying. Anyone with a social subject matter analysis tool and a dream invented content marketing. And it’s the next big thing. Or it will be. Or it is now. Hang on, let me see what’s trending.

    Creating a meaningful interaction with valuable, factually correct information should be the norm, not the rare exception. Unfortunately, we are headed in the wrong direction.

  3. Trying to win popularity contestsGood heavens people, there is no greater indication that one has crawled into one’s own bottom than the popularity contestant’s plea for votes. How many times have you seen the following scenario play out?Website “X” has is having a “Hemorrhoid Treatment Marketer of the Year” competition. The only reason you know about the competition is a volley of emails begging for votes.  You guessed it, the guy looking to achieve the distinction of Butt Cream Marketing Thought Leader of the Year wants you to go to website “X” to click vote your way to his professional validation.

    There are a few problems here. One, there’s a different contest for these things every day and most of the time; they only serve as a press opportunity for website “X.”  Two, if your self-worth is so closely tied to an easily gamed popularity contest, you may need some couch time with a professional.  Three, if the “winners” always seem to be the ones with enough time on their hands to game the system and enough press people to submit them for each award of the week… I really shouldn’t have to be the one telling you about how worthless your trophy is.

    Finally, you don’t “win” awards from your peer group, you “receive” them. And the only award worth winning is the one in which respected people who review your work say you deserve it. Anything else is nothing more than that thing you do by yourself for the sole purpose of making yourself feel good.

Kevin Ryan (@KevinMRyan)is the founder of the digital advertising firm Motivity Marketing, Inc. and co-author of the Palgrave Macmillan digital strategy guide, “Taking Down Goliath.”His writing has appeared in Forbes, Advertising Age, MediaPost, iMedia, Marketing Land, Search Engine Watch and Popular Mechanics