From the moment you start blogging, you get this idea in your head. “If I could just get so and so to retweet this post, I’d have it made.” This idea comes in large part from the blogosphere itself. There are posts on how to get the attention of “A-Listers.” There are posts on how to blog better than the superkids. There are posts on how to get as big as the a-listers, too. So when I tell you that you actually don’t need to start out by courting the most influential people in the world of Social Media, you might think that I’ve really lost that last burger that made my brain a complete happy meal.
There are 7 risks I can think of tied to trying to get the attention of the “A-Lister” crowd – however you may define that.
1. The benefits are not long lasting: There is definitely a huge thrill when a “big name” retweets your post, and looking at your blog’s traffic the next day can make you feel warm and fuzzy. However, there is a difference between people who click to your blog because a big name suggested they do it and a person who is truly engaging with your content. One may forget who you are 5 minutes after they visit. One will keep coming back of their own volition.
2. The A-Lister’s audience may not be your audience: One thing you start to notice after you’ve been in the online world for awhile is that each big name has his or her own specialty. Some of these may be relevant to your long-term goals, and others may not. Their specialty dictates in large part who their followers are. If the A-Lister is an expert in an area that has nothing to do with you really, then the retweet will not do you a whole lot of good in the long run.
3. The influx of traffic is more about the A-lister than it is about you: When you try to court A-listers to increase your traffic, what you are really doing is borrowing their influence for your work and online presence. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but make sure you stay clear in your head about what is going on. While some people may click to your blog and then genuinely feel interested in your blog, others may simply click over because they are influenced by the A-lister who tweeted your post. They may give your blog a passing glance, or they may simply retweet the a-lister to try to get on his or her radar.
4. What goes up must come down: If you monitor your traffic carefully, you know that few things warm the soul like a sudden and unexpected spike. You also know that few things are more discouraging than a bloggy free-fall. Even though it doesn’t make sense rationally, when you get retweeted by an A-lister and your traffic spikes, then falls back to normal a couple of days later, it seems like your situation has gotten worse rather than just seeming like a return to the status quo. Psychologically, that can be quite a bummer.
5. You experience the cocaine of the online world: Getting attention from an A-lister is kind of like how drug users explain the effects of cocaine. Before you try it, you can’t really imagine why you would need it. Then you try it and you soar like a kite. When you return back to your normal self, you feel like you can’t feel as good as you did unless you take the drug again. It’s sort of the same thing with searching for attention from A-listers. When you get that retweet of your post, it can feel like you’re on top of the world. But then when you write your next post and it only does moderately well, you think, “Oh, OK, to do well I need to get retweeted by an A-lister again.”
6. You start writing posts that are not interesting to you or your audience: Sometimes, in an effort to write an explosive post, bloggers will write something specifically that they think will get the attention of an a-lister. The problem with this is that you are not developing your online presence/brand/business to please that single person (hopefully). This activity is like the song of the sirens. It takes you off your course.
7. Your core audience will feel abandoned: If you spend a lot of your time trying to get the attention of big names, people who are legitimately interested in your content will feel like chopped liver. Because attention from big names is often fleeting, you need to consider those with whom you engage to be your core audience – because they are. If you mumble and complain even when five people in your community take the time to comment on your post, guess what will happen eventually to those five people?
There is nothing wrong with trying to get on the radar of an A-lister, but most of the time, truly engaging with them is simply impossible. They have too many people on their radar, too many demands on their time, and too many people saying, “Why are you spending so much time on that person and none on me?”
This is also not to say that it’s not great to get an occasional nod from someone you respect. It’s awesome. It can lend you credibility. It can introduce you to fantastic people.
However, the majority of your time needs to be spent building your own community rather than chasing after superstars. Creating a blog community that is engaging, that is build on the premise of engaging with your readers – that’s where the long-term benefits come from.
This is post #40 in the Engagement Series. If you are worried about missing the next post, please feel free to subscribe. If you want to see what we’ve talked about so far, you can just click on the category page, and all of the posts are there (hopefully, if I tagged them right).
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Leonardini