Cup of Joe: Are You A Programmer? Or A Program?
Have you noticed that things seem to be getting easier? With open source programs like WordPress you can easily start your own web site with a multitude of different features for hardly any money. With services like PayPal and Freshbooks you can invoice your clients through email. With social media we are finding new ways to engage with users. Even Google is making IT easier with Google Docs and Gmail.
As marketers and entrepreneurs this is all supposed to make us better, right? If you are Douglas Rushoff, then the answer is no. In Rushoff’s book he tells us that the more you use, the more likely you are to be used. He says that if you aren’t a programmer then you are part of the program. These are pretty strong words for a time when marketers are investing record amounts in one channel that is dominated by one corporation.
How many of our business decisions, are a result of the environment we operate in? Are we even aware that we have a choice? Are we being used? If so, what impact is it having on our businesses? Take for example ReferralKey. Here is a new start up that allows businesses to sign up and build a “referral network”. Businesses can then offer rewards to others that send them referrals. I get around 95% of my business from referrals, so I think I can honestly say, that ReferalKey is the worst idea I have ever seen. Setting up a system that rewards individuals for referrals almost guarantees bad referrals and bad business, because the only incentive is a trivial short term reward. Last week I pitched a project to one of the largest retail chains in Europe. How did I get that kind of access? A referral, one built on trust and a good reputation.
Speaking of reputations, some in social media are starting to think that keeping a good reputation is a waste of time. How did we get to a point where we are so full of our selves that we somehow think that it doesn’t matter what others think of us? See, that’s what social media does, it fools/programs us into thinking that we as individuals have such a heighten value that we can forget about everyone else. Which is why we chase useless metrics, and waste time creating useless content.
When was the last time you thought, “I am not going to worry to much about SEO, or social media”? When was the last time you had a truly original thought about your marketing? I have given Apple a lot of grief in the past for ignoring social media, but maybe they are right, maybe they have realized that there are different ways of doing things. Which would make sense, after all, they are one of the programers, not the programmed.