If you have ever experienced sub-zero temperatures, you know that what the local newspeople do to get you hooked in is they promise a warm-up. Now, when your high is 8 degrees, a warm-up could be something like, say, 20 degrees. A high of 30, well, that would be swimsuit weather. Of course, if your high was recently 60 degrees, this wouldn’t be a warm-up at all. It’s all relative.
The more you engage in Social Media, whether it’s blogging or Twitter or some combination of sites, the more you see that everyone’s experience is relative to their own specific situation. This inspired me to create a new theory of relativity (sorry Mr. Einstein).
E=MC2 -> Everyone = My Concerns Squared
What does that mean? It means that it’s probably best if you assume that everyone feels that they have what you have on your table plus 2-3 more tables of stuff. And they could say the same about you. This is what makes everything relative. What size are those tables? Are the stacks on the table really high, or is it just that the whole surface of the table is invisible? Maybe someone just has a full plate.
Let’s look at some ways that relativity can impact some of your Social Media goals.
What is your gold?
There was a great article posted to CopyBlogger yesterday called How to find the gold in your business, by Johnny B. Truant. The article begins with the story of one of Johnny’s clients, who is dismayed because blog traffic is going down. The article goes on to point out, however, that while the traffic had gone down, the client had made 2 sales. So, did the decreased traffic matter in the end? It depends, but probably, the sales are weighted a bit more than how many eyes see a blog.
Now, let’s talk about relativity. First, let’s look at 2 sales. Is that good? Maybe you and your particular business would need twice that much to feel encouraged. Maybe you would just need one. It’s like Eddie Izzard’s bit about lists of ingredients on foods. “Oh, 2% calcium…is that good, or will my teeth turn into chalk?”
Then of course, there’s the conversation about sales versus traffic. Not everyone who blogs is using the blog to make money, at least not directly. For me, traffic is one of my only metrics for success. If my traffic goes down, well, let’s just say it doesn’t make me chipper.
There are tons of other ways to slice and dice the “gold” that you have. Maybe comments are more important to you than sales or traffic. Maybe the subscribe button is your big thing. It’s all relative.
Now, how does this theory of relativity affect competition? I recently watched an episode of Kitchen Table Talks with Joe Sorge and Chris Brogan, and they were talking about how they approach competition. Both fellows noted that you can’t win a race by looking sideways. So, what does that have to do with relativity? Rather than thinking about a race, think about a marathon. As I’ve written before, Social Media, like a marathon, is a situation where everyone has their own goals, and really, ultimately, the goal is to “win” by finishing the race. Sure, it’s nice if you beat someone to the finish line, but even if you do, what will bug you is whether you beat your own time goal, right?
In the world of Social Media, the theory of relativity dictates that competing, or trying to compete, directly against other people is sort of a fool’s errand. They may not really care all that much if you have more traffic if they are after more subscribers. You might not care if you are getting trounced in comments if your goal is to build traffic.
So what does this mean to you?
You are experiencing Social Media in your own particular way. As we talked about yesterday, no one can live in your head and understand exactly what that experience is like for you. So, if you see someone complaining about the number of subscribers they have while you think that they are doing ridiculously well, just remember that they are experiencing Social Media in their own way. There is no cause for envy. There is no cause for saying, “This is wrong and this is right.”
This also means that you should set whatever benchmarks would be meaningful for you. If you want to shoot for the moon for certain reasons, do it. If you want to try to get one sale over a 3-month period, do that. It could be great for you even if it wouldn’t be a blip on the radar for someone else. There’s one person in this world who understands why you are making all of the decisions you are – and that’s you. Relative to everything else – that’s what really matters.