Friday, February 11, 2011

The Code of The Digerati

Hammurabi was a king that ruled the Babylonian Empire in ancient Mesopotamia. Today, he's best known for his code of laws. The Code of Hammurabi is one of civilization's first known written set of laws and might be most remembered for its retaliatory brand of justice: "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" the law says."

Thousands of years have passed since Hammurabi ruled Babylon, yet many marketers are using his ancient philosophy to try to "engage" digital communities in the Twitterverse. Our quest is to engage people with follow (and hope) people follow you. Call it the code of the Digerati; it says I follow you so you should follow me.

Of course, there are a lot of problems with the new code, but the biggest is that it doesn't accomplish any of "engagement" it's intended to. Who exactly is "engaged socially" if the only reason they follow is to get one back? What ends up happening is that Twitter becomes a one way communications tool where a lot of followers are, at best, barely listening. Living by the code of the Digerati becomes self defeating.

To avoid this requires a fundamental change in how marketers think about social media. Rather than thinking in terms of engagement of fans and followers perhaps the question should be how can we deliver something of value to our fans and followers.

With our current mindset the question we perpetually seek an answer for is how many followers do we have? The goal itself is to increase that number and that becomes our misguided proof of success.

On the other hand, by thinking in terms of delivering value to followers, marketers will start to answer the question of why the number really matters. They will better appreciate and respect the inherent value of a declared follower- one who gives explicit permission that you are worthy of their attention.

And if marketers value the attention of their followers they should no longer be wasting it...they will actually be marketing.

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