“Everybody’s talking and no one says a word.” – John Lennon, from Nobody Told Me

It was a sad day when LinkedIn opened its Pulse publishing platform to everyone. Not that I ever read what influencers like Bill Gates and Richard Branson had to say, but at least they have experience worth writing about.

Have you seen some of the fluff people post? What a diluted jumble of user-generated nonsense. Everyone trying desperately to show off how smart they are, build their personal brand, and make a name for themselves. What a waste.

The thing is, the path to success has always been the same: Get out in the world, work hard, meet lots of smart people, build relationships, get exposed to wonderful opportunities, gain tons of experience, accomplish great things. Boom. Success.

Then you write about it … if you’re into that sort of thing. I mean, the order is pretty important, if you ask me.

Everyone’s on a quest to engage everyone else online, but does anyone stop to ask why? What’s the goal? What’s the ROI?

I’m constantly getting random Tweets and comments from people who just happen to read one of my articles and want to provoke a response or engage me in dialog on some controversial topic or another. They don’t seem to have much subject matter expertise or read with comprehension. I’m not trying to be critical; it just doesn’t reflect well on them. So why do it?

Don’t even get me started on the gazillions of random requests that are all about what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for me. I mean, who taught these people how to sell?

The problem is that social media, blogs, and comments have given folks the means to engage pretty much anyone, so that’s what they do. Unfortunately, they’re doing it on a highly superficial level that doesn’t lead to meaningful results. Either that, or they’re making the age-old blunder of talking without knowing what they’re talking about. Engaging others before engaging their brain, as it were.

Reminds me of the ludicrous “let’s have a conversation” meme. Why? Nothing ever gets done.

Look, I know it’s tough when it seems like everyone is doing it. But here’s the thing. Everyone isn’t doing it. Everyone isn’t out there trying to engage others on social media. The best and brightest aren’t. The up-and-coming stars aren’t. Tomorrow’s innovators, executives, and business leaders definitely aren’t. They’re all far too busy working, experiencing, achieving, and thinking. Those are high ROI activities. Engaging online is not. It’s so overrated it isn’t funny.

Image credit Esther Vargas via Flickr

  • Steve Eckhardt

    Hmm. Does that include responding to this post?

    • Steve Tobak

      There’s always a smartass … 😉

  • Pinay Cupid

    Amen, brother. Thank you…people think I’m crazy every time I echo what you’ve said in this post. I grew up without computers, cable TV, self-driving cars, cell phones and fax machines. Everyone calls it “Social Media”. I prefer calling it “Social Hysteria”. Thank you for being the voice of reason.

    • Steve Tobak

      Really. And the way people so robotically post isn’t exactly “social” either.

  • Renee M. Berger

    Isn’t social media all about building a community around your brand and adding a little transparency and thought leadership to your organization? What’s truly in it for you, is the privilege to interact with your community. Yes agreed, the CEO shouldn’t be spending time doing it and at this point ROI is hard to track. No different than the cold calls that turn into zero dollars.

    • Steve Tobak

      Those are definitely the talking points but, in reality, it’s a lot more like throwing a bucket of ice cubes into the ocean. As I explain in Real Leaders (shameless promo), you see a few ripples and it cools down for a second but then, nothing.

  • Jeff Eisenberg

    Steve – thank you for your perspective. Specifically, I appreciate that you addressed what I think is an 800-pound gorilla in the digital media room: that social media branding, engagement, “more content!”, followers, etc. are useless without some type of larger purpose or goal, and most especially without real-world work for all that digital strategy to reflect.

    I’ve worked in the area of digital marketing for the past several years, and have become increasingly frustrated that many are quite unaware of this disconnect. Thank you for calling attention to it.