To Just Do It or not so much…?

Quite a few discussions on the subject of content creation, blogging, creative expression in general, and whether or not the new democratized web means that it’s not only ok to start throwing words into the virtual universe, but indeed necessary to one’s survival in whatever business they happen to be in.

And so after being accused of being something of a snob for disagreeing with prevailingly popular opinions on the topic, I’ve pondered my stance in an honest attempt to understand the views expressed by so many cheerleaders of the Just Do It approach.  At the end of a week of mulling over it, I still find the jump in head first approach potentially dangerous and more trouble than the eventuality of a possible pay off.  Here are my whys.  Your thoughts, of course, are very much welcome, and agreeing with me is by no means a requirement on my blogs.  I enjoy the banter, so long as it remains civil – that’s how we learn, and I am still genuinely hoping to learn.

In a nutshell, the sales pitch of the Just Do It crowd presented from so many conference stages and in so many blogs, webinars and e-books goes something like this: it doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are, jump in and start blogging.  The first dozen or so posts will be terrible, but by repeatedly engaging in the task of blogging, your stuff will get better and better.  And, so long as those lousy posts are optimized for Google, you will even stand a chance of making some money as a result of those efforts (I call it the Google Carrot approach to writing).  And, apparently, and I quote, “one thing all good content has in common is it was actually created”.

I disagree.  I think one thing all good content has in common is it that it’s GOOD, and hence worth our engaging and reading and responding to.  But let’s get back to that in a minute or two:

Let’s discuss something else – necessity to blog (or to be on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue _____et. al) in order to be successful in business:

A friend, who happens to be a licensed real estate broker in Florida recently pointed out to me that top producing agents in his MLS don’t blog.  At all.  Some don’t even have websites, and yet they manage to outsell their blogging, tweeting counterparts.  By the same rationale, I can count on one hand the number of real estate agents or brokers who can honestly attribute the bulk of their success to their blogging and social media efforts.  The non-bloggers are simply doing something else to drum up business, and they are NOT a dying breed, contrary to popular belief.  They have found a niche or a method that is working for them and they are sticking to it.  They are also obviously good at whatever methods they rely on, which brings me to this question: if blogging and social media are to be touted as business development tools, why not treat them with the diligence, care and consideration we would give other marketing efforts?

 

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Would we ever send out a Just Listed postcard or a run a Grand Opening ad in a paper without careful deliberation?  I don’t know too many business owners who would, but with blogging, we are told that it’s ok to be sloppy.  We are told that it’s ok to hit publish and not worry whether or not the message you are putting out there is going to do you any favors in the eyes of the consumers you are trying to reach, all based on the easy-to-swallow rationale of “everyone’s first posts/tweets/updates/virtual profiles et. al. sucked, so don’t worry about it”.  I am told the Internet is much more forgiving of lousy content.  It may be, but I don’t know too many people, outside of select groups of self-made gurus who teach blogging and social media, who are forgiving in this regard.  If I land on a post that is riddled with basic grammatical mistakes and reads like a fifth-grade homework assignment – I don’t believe I will take the person who wrote it seriously, no matter what business they are in.  Of course if the person who is putting this sort of thing out there is my local farmer – I’d be a LOT more forgiving of their prose than if that person is an attorney, a doctor, a marketer or a real estate professional.  It’s a simple issue of how I judge competence required to do a job well in any given field.  I don’t expect that a farmer’s inability to write will affect the quality of the produce they grow, but I certainly expect, nay, demand a certain level of professionalism and competence from the other fields.  As a consumer, I will find it very hard to entrust an ill-spoken attorney to represent me in court, or feel comfortable signing a listing agreement with someone whose writing is sloppy.

Now if these attorneys and real estate professionals are not compelled to spit out post after posts in their attempt at the new shiny thing – I will never have a chance to make all the assumptions I just made, and will likely consider their services based on other factors, i.e their specialization, education, etc.  With a real estate agent, if I am looking for a house in Middletown USA – I am not going to read their biography or even their hyper local posts or market reports.  I’ll simply search for a home and browse the pictures and make my call based on the property.  If I am selling – I would like a resume and testimonials and a breakdown of how you work, but I still won’t care about your puppies or the kind of food you like.  In either case, if you can write in a way that will make me fall in love with one area over another – be my guest, but other than that – the fewer chances you have of screwing up that first impression, the better.

It may sound harsh, but there is just too much junk out there produced in some bizarre attempt to best some virtual counterpart.  There are far too many lousy agent websites that were mostly thrown together because the cheer-leading crowd said that it was easy and doable.  There are far too many sub-par videos, blogs, facebook pages and the like, all done under the auspices that consumer will simply ignore something they don’t like, but you might still catch a fish or two by casting so many nets.

The problem is I, as a consumer, don’t want to be caught in your net by some accident and be annoyed while closing my browser window with your name on it.  I want to be seduced if it’s retail, travel or food, lured if it’s a movie, given easy access to only the information I want without being sold to if it’s real estate, and provided a professional service to if it’s most anything else.  Doesn’t take many words to do that, but it does take thought, consideration and yes, the snob in me will say a bit of talent, to accomplish it by blogging.  Or, it takes getting it professionally done via other means.

I was told we all had to start somewhere.  Why not start by learning, by trying our hand at it, by asking a few chosen people to read what we write and to dissect it, and lastly and most importantly, why not try to learn by reading the truly great content?

What do you think?

Some links to recent posts on the subject:

When it Comes To Content Creation – JUST DO IT! - by Jeremy Blanton

I am begging you, when it comes to Content – please, Don’t Just Do It – my rebuttal of Jeremy’s post.

When it comes to blogging, Yes, Just Do It! – Victoria Stankard’s rebuttal of my rebuttal.

On Content Creation Strategies – by the Notorious Rob (a long but engaging read and some great commentary)

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