Why Social Media is turning their viewers into Zombies – and what you can do about it.
- Talking about zombies may be controversial.
- Talking about social media as enablers may be controversial.
- Talking about social media enabling zombie outbreaks is definitely controversial.)
Zombies aren’t just fiction. They aren’t just on alternate TV channels or B-grade movies. They’ve invaded your social media channels. And they may be coming for you.
- Most social platforms started out feeding a fad which is built on a social habit, like feeding morphine to cocaine addicts.
- They also weren’t set up to earn income, but to feed off numerous rounds of financing until they “figured it out.”
In both of these scenarios, we find a common zombie virus that finally reached a tipping point.
For all the continuing hype about the “vital necessity” of having a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or (insert your favorite social media here) – it has turned out to be more of the “conventional wisdom” speaking. In other words, worthless when you test it for yourself.
Conventional wisdom is commonly defined as “adopted, but unexamined beliefs that support your pre-conceived views.” In other words, it’s the old and continuing game of follow the follower. 95% of the people out there are following someone else, who is turn are usually following someone else, and so on.
Social media became another time waster, a diversion, an entertainment, but not profitable to anyone until those platforms started selling ads.
When the platforms realized they had to fall back to selling ads – that’s they point they started turning their users to zombies. They did this by restricting choice.
Advertising is what is killing social media. Because you can’t run anything without showing a profit (excepting only the government and education, which is government-sponsored for the most part.) Social media simply took the wrong solution to pay for their overhead, like governments and taxes.
On top of obnoxious ads, they limited organic access from your followers. When Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+ and Instagram decided to start restricting content, they just crashed their own party. If you want to reach all the people who follow you, you now have to pay for the privilege. The days of any “free ride” are over. Information may “want to be free,” but someone has to pay to get it to you, or distribute yours to others.
Facebook is now known as a great place to sell stuff, because they’ve collected all this personal data on people and can specifically target individuals based on their viewing habits. Meanwhile, interaction on Facebook has tanked. It’s become mostly lurkers. Perfect for advertisers, like network TV. Viewers are zombified.
Usually over 50% of followers on Twitter and Facebook are false, mostly ‘bots. For the President and other “big” celebrities, this is as high as 70%. Why are the bots there? To attempt to get their own message across. Kinda futile if you think the logic through – it turns into an echo chamber with very, very few listeners. Zombies with zombie followers.
One of the funniest parts to this campaign cycle is that the Mainscream Media is caught up in this zombie feeding frenzy. They avidly repeat whatever controversial tweets are sent out. Of course, the laugh is on them, since their overall viewership has been dwindling for years, excepting only the bloodsport candidate debates. Pew surveys routinely show that not even a third of potential viewers even think they are telling the truth. The TV networks rely on advertising. TV networks are zombie enablers.
More people are buying their own movies and viewing them as a whole, without interruptions. Because they don’t like to get interrupted by advertisements or anything else. If they have the DVD or digital version, they can watch it whenever and wherever they like.
Online, we see more zombie efforts with the futile efforts of Forbes and others to try to force viewers to turn off their adblockers. The remaining non-zombie readers simply turn off Forbes instead. The zombies all do what they’re told. They’ve given up their choice.
Natively, people resist becoming zombies. People want choice in their lives. And they turn away from anything that doesn’t give them choice. People natively want to choose to live non-interrupted lives, much like the “old days” when you could buy a printed book and sit down to read it in a comfortable chair. You then placed a bookmark when it was time to come to dinner or go to bed. Then picked it up right there when you had time to read it again.
People thought social media was a way they could choose to interact with other people and share data. Currently, there’s less than 10% chance you’ll be able to keep up with these people and their lives. Because Facebook says so. Because Instagram, Google+, and Twitter say so. They say you must view ads in order to get a fraction of the content you used to get. They want a zombie userbase.
I originally liked LinkedIn over all the other social media because they would take content I produced. And I was running under the mantra that the Great God Google would send you traffic for great content (false.) But then I found that LinkedIn is limiting who will see your content. Of course, you could buy ads (the same ones you scroll hurridly past.) LinkedIn is a zombie enabler.
Now Bebee is replacing them. We’ll see how long that lasts.
The last straw is that because these are platforms owned by someone else, and those owners can change the rules at any time. So if you “build your platform” on sand, expect the foundations to shift at any moment. Unless they have a paid model, they’ll have to start selling ads, which then gives them zombie customers, and they become zombie enablers.
- Membership sites.
Choice. You can choose what episode or post you want to listen to or read. People who can choose don’t become zombies. Yes, podcasts have sponsors (ads) but usually the host themselves is reading these, and they are understandable. Blogs can have affiliate links to products, while the banner ads have mostly gone.
Or you simply buy a complete version of what you are interested in and then consume it at your own pace. You buy or sign up for a membership so that you can get exactly the content you want without a lot of other distractions, from people you trust to do just that. You buy their products to keep them bringing that trusted content to you.
Content is the “new” advertising medium, just as it was when Benjamin Franklin was printing.
Blogs and podcasts are new ways to get that content out, replacing most of the printing presses. eBooks and online videos are the same (although YouTube is doing their best to make sure these are interrupted with ads as much as possible.)
You either pay up front, or you put up with the ads from people who are supporting that show. It’s just that people are leaving those media which interrupt them too many times. It doesn’t matter how free it is. People don’t want to become zombies. Crappy content with lots of interruptions won’t get the following that good content with few interruptions does – ask PBS and their sponsors. (Don’t tell me they’re “ad free” when I have to hear the tagline of some “Foundation” every 20-30 minutes. Less crass, but still ads.)
Even SEO is threatened by this now. Google is starting to accept paid entries for certain keywords. Which means my browser adblockers will have to jump through even more hoops to get rid of them.
Your answer to all this is developing and publishing great content, finding and building your audience, and then refining what you produce by what that audience is asking for.
I have a confession to make at this point. Outside of LinkedIn, I quit all the major social media platforms years ago. I like cats, I just dislike constantly seeing cat pictures. I could only “plus” so many gorgeous scenery photos on Google+. And once I got rid of all the Influencers on LinkedIn, I found my feed more friendly, but being filled with pictures of inspirational quotes about farmers and ranchers.
So, I’ve quit all of them. And by the end of today, I’ll have all their apps gone, too.
What’s my approach to these? This is the confession part: I syndicate my content to all of them I can through IFTTT (If This Then That.) But I never visit, I never “interact.” I just post.
My analytics have been running for years telling me what gets shared and what sends me traffic. Tumblr sends me more traffic than anything else. Why? I send them great content that resonates. Do I visit Tumblr? Only to check how my post showed up there. Cold? I give them content they can spread around to their peeps. It’s a win for both of us.
My podcasts bring me traffic because people want stuff to listen to that they like. And I sponsor myself, for now.
Google doesn’t send traffic to my site because the haven’t figured it out. I’m not trying to “follow the follower” by going after a particular keyword that is highly searched for. Instead, I’m working to find my particular audience and give them what they want. Eventually, I’ll have enough content to see what Google “thinks” my site is all about. That just takes time.
My site gets Google traffic, just very little from Google. Think about it – if you are trying to please Google to get traffic, who is choosing what you should write more about? Do you smell a zombie nearby? Is it you?
Real interaction means emails. It doesn’t mean friending, plussing, liking, or hashtags. It means that I care about my readers and listeners deeply. I respect them. I just care. I choose carefully, and I want them to be able to do their own choosing.
And I know that they care for what I do and give them. When someone emails me out of the blue with a question, I’ll take an hour or whatever is needed to give them an answer which will help them improve their life.
That relationship can’t be bought, can’t be paid for, can’t be monetized.
That is what life is really all about.
I publish books that people want to read. Because they have great content in them and people have relationships with their authors, if only one of trust. They know that author gives them good data or good entertainment in every book. When I republish public domain texts, it’s those books which have fallen into the mostly-forgotten pile, and only need to be dusted off with a nice-looking cover and description so new generations of readers can appreciate them.
Followers seldom if ever make good leaders. Following other followers is a recipe for disaster. It’s long been described as the blind leading the blind from one ditch to the other.
Leaders create excellent content that their listeners, readers, and viewers want. If those “thought leaders” accept sponsors, it’s their responsibility to ensure the ads fit that audience.
Studies of successful bloggers, podcasters, and successful authors showed they all did one thing. And that one thing is the same principle successful advertisers use:
Ask to get in front of other people’s audience and give then additional choices that they’ll appreciate.
You can understand how advertising went off the rails by that exact definition. They don’t give good choices, or they force themselves in front of audiences who don’t want to hear from them. Again, the ad-space seller didn’t give a hoot about their audience. So the advertiser then began forcing their choice on that audience. Again, here is where they make their viewers and readers into zombies.
In usual circumstances, this means the audience leaves. In the early days, where there were only three national TV channels for entertainment, and movies had to be watched in theaters, this mostly left reading as the only alternative. And reading flourished. (Radio was similarly limited to small geographic areas, and was similarly prostituted to advertisers.)
Now there are thousands of channels available 24/7/365. You have unlimited choice. And so you see why people are leaving traditional media (and traditional publishers) in a continuing exodus. Channels like Netflix proved that concept by their profits.
Social Media was touted for years as yet another variety of entertainment through interaction. Now we find that the early adopters have left and the remaining audience is just “lurking” there – meaning, they are just a passive audience waiting to be told what to do. Interaction declines to just those who are pushing their agenda, or in other words, marketing. Zombies talking to zombies.
This is what I’ve found in all the social media. “Interaction” alone doesn’t build relationships. Groups which are deluged with marketers don’t allow an audience to grow. Even Facebook’s famed private groups are probably more problematic than they’re worth, as it is exceedingly difficult to get quality content there. (Ever been swamped by “attaboys” and such?)
Amazon has this exact problem with their reviews. Never mind that by nature only 1 percent of all readers anywhere normally leave reviews. Never mind that the bulk of reviews are one or two terse sentences. Never mind that Amazon had to have its own staff review the books in the early days. Never mind that, like other social media, Amazon is in a constant battle to eliminate fake reviews.
You can’t force choice, and you can’t force social interaction.
As I said, I only syndicate my stuff. Early on, it was just not worth my time to “interact” when I needed to be creating more content. Content would give me more materials to sell – the more I published, the more I could offer to people. The point was either to build audience or give that audience something to exchange with me (as in money.)
LinkedIn looked promising when they opened up publishing to anyone. And Google was supposedly making this content available through their search engine rankings. But the trick to getting wide exposure on LinkedIn was not in how well you wrote the article. The trick was that you had to do a similar scene to Amazon, which was to “engage” with various groups and people so that they would then “like” your article and share it.
However, as I also said above, the groups were filled with spammy marketers, and the individuals weren’t necessarily the audience I was looking for. So I felt I had to spend inordinate amounts of time to prostitute myself into connecting and liking these people just so they’d like my stuff so I could get it to the audience on LinkedIn who would really appreciate it.
Nope. Not gonna happen. You’ll keep yourself poor that way. And distracted beyond belief.
That said, this is similar to what I tell people to do (as I’ve observed by following 6-figure authors) on Amazon. The difference is that you build your audience who actually want the materials you are publishing. Then you simply ask them to give you honest reviews. This is a perfectly legitimate way to game their system. They actually encourage it. They have people who write reviews on stuff they are sent by Amazon (and don’t have to send back.)
I’ve already gone over the solutions to the problem.
- add to this: courses
Building audience and finding out from them what you need to be producing.
Running ads, to find people who haven’t figured this out yet. Meanwhile, take that great content and syndicate it to all the social media which will accept it. (Something like a dozen or 17 of them at this writing.) But don’t visit these sites to “interact” or “build a following.” Not worth your valuable time.
Just like a wheel, you want all your links to come back to your main site. You invest your time into valuable content that is spread to the winds and brings people back to your site.
0. Have an autoresponder service so you can enable people to join your audience via email.
1. Have a domain and a webhost that will enable you to produce content regularly – a blog, by other names. But it could also be a podcast.
2. Post great content to this regularly, really valuable stuff that people want to save and share.
3. Include sharaable stuff – like your images always have your domain name in a lower corner. Take your text and put it into a PDF and post on Slideshare or somewhere they can download it from, preferably with its own community. Include share buttons on your posts.
4. Set up IFTTT with all the social media places possible. Also include all the free content outlets such as Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, Medium, and everywhere else. IFTTT can take your RSS feed for your blog or podcast and then syndicated it appropriately to Twitter, Facebook, almost everywhere. (And it’s possible to go to Buffer and reach Google+. Takes some time, but you really only have to do it once. Then you publish everything everywhere possible – multiple eyeballs seeing all your content.
5. Get into regular content production, such as publishing books and then doing reviews of them on your blog, complete with buy links. (See my “Classics You Should Know” for a sample of this – and sign up for that mailing list…)
6. All your content, every piece, has a call to action or lead magnet that invites people directly back to your site.
As you have your audience, you can start building up to create your review team that will give you feed back on what you are writing and publishing and also be able to leave honest reviews on Amazon to jump start your sales.
The point of this hub and spoke organization is to streamline your production so that you can spend the majority of your time on creating valuable, fresh content. Then your stuff is automatically syndicated to these social media which are all starving for content.
You don’t burn time “interacting” in order to “build a following” or anything else. You want to spend your time-coins interacting with your email list, building real relationships. That action builds fans, superfans, and evangelists for your books and your content in general.
You have one life to live, a continuing moment of consciousness that rolls out in front of you.
The question you should ask about these social media zombie platforms is: “Will this give me more peace, or make my life simpler?”
Or – “Will I have to give up my choice or put up with obnoxious interruptions from ads to get the data I need?”
Your lifetime is valuable. Your goals are valuable. You have just so much life-time to invest in achieving your goals.
That’s my take.
Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.