In a fragmented world, go deep

Friend, mentor and client Nilofer Merchant posted recently about the problem of fragmentation:

It’s a fragmented world. And it’s only becoming more so. It used to be that when people wrote, they wrote more deeply. In the early days of the web (pre-twitter), I remember hand picking the few voices I would listen to and then putting them into my RSS feeder and checking for their essays. Essays, not tweets, were the way we shared what we were thinking. But as “content” has become more important to maintain a standing online, more and more people are entering into the fray. More and more people who may not even have a point of view to advocate but just want to participate in the conversation.

As content becomes more fragmented, you could try and compete with that by doing more and more, by curating other people’s content, by then running your content through Twylah, by having that “twitter magazine” come out which puts all your tweets and links in one place so that people can catch it if they missed each particular one.

Or you could do the opposite. You could go deep. You could be that voice that everyone listens to because when it speaks, it is so deep and rich that it’s worth slowing down to listen to. Sort of a Morgan Freeman voice, in the times of Justin Bieber bop. Maybe it will allow the light of an idea to be seen more clearly.” There’s more at the source: In a fragmented world, go deep – Nilofer Merchant

If I were talking with Nilofer, I’d gently push back on this one. ‘Going deep’ does not preclude using Twylah; rather, I think, the answer to fragmentation and ‘going deep’ is focus…

When I first started blogging I was not confident in my own skillset and my focus was a mile wide and six inches deep. My tagline was “Marketing, Sales and Technology for small business, non-profits and academic institutions”. It makes me laugh now because there are no dozen websites that can cover THIS landscape effectively. I used to curate anything and everything related to those topics sometimes posting over 20 times a day! I got traffic but it wasn’t really relevant and it didn’t get me customers. Over time, Nilofer helped me go deep and realize my ‘onlyness’ was really helping thinkers to become thought leaders through the use of a minimal toolkit for content marketing. Now my tagline is “content marketing for thought leadership” and I help experts get found when people are looking for what they do. By going deeper, I may lose the opportunity to develop a small business website but I might gain the opportunity to work with a TED Fellow like Nina Tandon which is much more rewarding in the long run. Now, too, I’m more confident in my onlyness, I only post a couple of times per week…

Nilofer and I have had this discussion before and I think we both agree: If our thoughts are going to resonate with our target audience we need to understand the questions they are asking and align our answers with their queries. If we position ourselves as the obvious answer to the questions of the people we want to attract, we will get found when people are looking for ‘that one voice’. It’s not good enough however simply to think deep thoughts; we need to let people know that we are thinking them. Nilofer is a great thinker on strategy but I direct my energy toward ‘thoughts, tools and tactics’ for content marketing and ‘thought leadership’ marketing; I think the answer here is not either/or it’s both/and. I don’t think Nilofer’s saying that Twylah is a bad thing and I think she’d agree you need to go deep thoughtwise AND master ‘thought leadership’ marketing toolwise because the two go together like peanut butter and chocolate — it’s just that mindlessly tweeting and retweeting doesn’t do much to add value…

In closing, here are the 3 tools I recommend for ‘thought leadership’ marketing:

  • Google Reader
  • WordPress
  • Twylah

I posted about them here just last week. They are the tools that will help you get found when you decide to ‘go deep’ and become the one voice [because it doesn’t matter how deep you go if no one can find you]…

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