The Balance Act

Photo cred: DirkJan Ranzijn

Here’s a thought I’ve been struggling with lately…

It’s not all about community, relationships and engagement.  To focus only on these things was naive and idealistic.  These things are vital in the long-run, but in terms of building a large userbase (a.k.a. making money).  In order to scale, these ideals sometimes have to take a backseat to impersonal, systemic approaches.

Now I don’t necessarily agree with that thought…hence me struggling with having it.  As if they were reading my mind, both Chris Brogan and Dave Fleet recently shared relevant thoughts on their blogs to get me thinking even more.  Then to top it off today, I enjoyed an extremely interesting presentation by Gabriel Weinberg (Scribnia’s Dreamit mentor). He shared his story of how he found success by doing nothing in terms of human engagement or community building, but rather by developing a deep and thorough understanding of the system.

I know different approaches work for different situations, but I’m quickly coming to the realization that these social media concepts do not scale, at least not at first. We get caught up on the “success stories” of companies that have done nothing in terms of marketing, and have grown solely from word of mouth.  While nice to think about, to plan the same for yourself is usually idealistic and unreasonable.

So much focus have been put on these tools lately, and I pretty much soaked it all in, not quite seeing the limitations…understanding, but not quite grasping the concept of breaking down silos, as Beth Harte would explain.

I’m learning that the only thing that really matters in the end is numbers…number of users, of customers, of traffic.  Regardless of how you get there, that’s the game.  These are harsh realizations but realizations nonetheless.

So I guess in the end, all you can hope for is a balance. I will never sacrifice my passion for community building and human engagement, but it’s looking like there’s a lot more to it.

I’m sure many of you already know this, so help me through this one…what are your thoughts?

Facing Reality: My First Step Into The “Real World”

Photo cred: Mike Epp
Photo cred: Mike Epp

This is my second week working with Scribnia and I have already learned so much. I’ve come to a lot of realizations, some good, some not so good and some a bit scary. I hope that as I grow as a professional and learn these valuable lessons, that I can share them with you. My writing should in no way replace actual experience, but rather give those of you who haven’t been there a bit more insight, and bring in those that have been there to discuss their experiences.

There are many things that I’ve consistently heard people say in their blogs and conversations that I thought I understood. So many concepts, issues, questions and ideas on which I thought I had a strong grasp. It’s impossible to truly understand some of these things without experiencing them first hand. Situations that are easy to solve in writing become 100x harder when actually facing them. That’s the difference between conceptual discussion and experience.

One good example of these concepts is the one that goes, “every situation is different, and you have to adapt and apply.” This is SO true and is something that I understood in concept, but didn’t really understand when it comes down to actually acting. It is also something I am learning VERY quickly. There will very rarely be an “answer all” solution, in any situation. What separates the great from the good from the bad is the ability to adapt, and see what works in each unique situation. This is something that I hope to develop as a professional.

So expect to see a lot of posts about these “realizations” that I have as I experience more in my career. If you’ve had similar experiences, please share them with the community. If you haven’t, I hope that these help prepare you, but don’t take them for your own experiences…because you will only truly understand some things when you experience them for yourself.

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