I Keep My Own Agency

My Klout is low, my influencers ‘so and so.’ My Blog is under-read, probably not enough about Bacon! My SEO and inbound marketing make Dyson jealous. My ‘social proof’ is lacking, I’ve peaked, hit the social plateau.

Yada yada. I’m intrigued by this notion of social influence yet still.. skeptical.

The company we keep

I’m social because I build networks and make contacts, and I learn something out here almost every day that contributes to my business, my career. I am social because the world was far too long denied a brilliant and inspired voice on public relations, marketing, communications, on the way business should be done — MINE.

I’m open to new ideas, smart discussion but will always be selective in my connections. There is great variety in all the little things that make up my approach to life and work – many of which remain offline.

“Don’t go visiting my intentions.”

Always liked that line, which highlights something going on with social as the game is played: assumptions. We’re trying to find influence – that we can score, chart, manipulate, sell – when the truth is, we really don’t ‘know’ do we? FTR:

  • Just because I tweet something, it doesn’t mean I agree with it word for word. Just because I’m connected to Person A, please don’t take it as a blanket endorsement of everything they’ve ever said or done.
  • Just because I like a friend’s writing style, don’t assume that 1) they’re the only people I read; far from it; and 2) that I read every one of their posts. Truthy, disclosurey, transparentness: I haven’t hit my going-going-almost-gone Reader in forever; what I follow most faithfully – TV recaps.
  • Just because I linked, read, or shared something it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost my blogging voice or that it influenced me. When someone gets me to forsake my iToys in lieu of a Microsoft product, then they will have wielded some influence. And probably triggered the next Apocalypse.
WYSIWYG: Part of the Story

I’m not so naive to think I’m beyond influence. I’m a sucker for a well-written post or clever marketing; write something quippy on the label, your wine has a better chance of making it onto my table.

But there’s not a single voice or web of ever-growing and changing connections that has any more power over me than any other, except maybe my (offline) BFFs.

This is the real-not-whole me. I may not always make sense. I might flub my lines once in a while, or like all the time. But trust me – I hold my own agency, know my own mind. This blog, my career, hell – me – are works in perpetual progress, ever learning and growing. Hopefully you’ll stick around for the show.

Can you rise above the influence? When everyone’s watching, what do you to grow, learn, be social – and stay true to yourself?

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20 thoughts on “I Keep My Own Agency

  1. I’ll raise your “Don’t go visiting my intention.” with a:

    “I’m not a jam jar; don’t put a label on me.” (That’s from a really, really old Harlequin Romance, set in Australia.) 🙂

    It’s interesting how suddenly in conventional media there’s a plethora of stories about people either consciously (like those street kids in India) or unconsciously, creating fake personas of their online selves: smarter, more assured, more successful. (Of course much of this is shattered if you meet in person and the carefully constructed online persona doesn’t “fit” with the online version. Or you talk to someone who worked with said person in the past….)

    Your points are interesting about not making assumptions, based on your social detritus (or as per the Big Data book I’m reading: social exhaust). I don’t think I make the assumption, automatically, about someone’s POV and/or favoured connections, but over time an “image” does build up. (I wrote about it in the NEGATIVE sense of “don’t do this” in my Decorum Byte last year.)

    I’m not even talking about the really obvious @triberrobo relationships, but you can see the (loose) affiliations by whose posts do get RT’d or +1’d or shared on LinkedIn. Even more telling is if someone has a tendency to comment on one blog (or a handful) and “tends” to agree with the poster at least 80 per cent of the time.

    Maybe you are kindred spirits or share the same brain. That’s the positive way of looking at it. The less palatable one is “filter bubbles” of conversations and/or (the dreaded) “confirmation bias.”

    Do you sense any of that going on with your (offline) BFFs, Davina? And presumably you are 100 per cent YOU in their company.

    We are living in interesting times, that’s for sure.
    Judy Gombita recently posted..Public relations – career agency or apathy?

    1. Interesting times indeed Judy – I could almost write a post about many of your points here. 🙂 – Online personas, or even live, professional ones are just that: creations we choose to project to the world. We’re selective online and with F&F, colleagues – not everyone gets to see behind the curtain. Part of that is the judgement, presumptions people make. Not too long ago I was talking w/ a group and the introductions were being made and I stopped them; I was like “I work w/ people, not job titles” – don’t want to assume based on that.

      Re: kindreds. If there were writers and bloggers w/ whom we disagreed most of the time.. would that make us trolls for reading, commenting? IDK but it’s one reason I don’t often read many of the BIG names; I’d always be commenting (when allowed) or tweeting ‘meh’ or ‘I’ve written better – w/ the HOW too.’ I know that when I do, I often frame my objections and debates, careful to reference what I agree on then launch into my different take.

      Like speaks to like, n’est pas? We’re different w/ almost anyone – a different set of experiences and circumstances has built that relationship, what we choose to let each other see (whether online or off). My closest BFFs see the most – b/c I ‘trust’ them to know me, take the whole me and not compartmentalize or judge. Even then I’m not sure I’m ever 100% myself; always adaptive, reflective to those around me. I think I just grew up ‘filtering’ myself per whom I’m with – and the relationship I want to have; easier that way. FWIW.

  2. I think all the yada, yada, yada about influence is really a handwringing about amplification. Influence is the same as it always was. It’s just the deliberate “public-ness” of the way it’s being dissected, labelled, and increasingly competed over that’s changed.

    At some point, we get the influence we earn. Like you, I’d rather have a small, engaged cadre of people I can rely on (without sounding like Charles Manson) than an army of people that some marketing firm deems earns me free swag. Getting free swag is easy; being genuinely influential is earned.

    Oh, and I LOVE the line, “My SEO and inbound marketing make Dyson jealous.”

    1. It’s the trappings, are they really necessary? And when they’re fake, it just bugs. Can’t tell you how many posts I read on this big blog here or a HBR, I go to RT – and their stream w/ 50k followers is nothing but a glorified feed. No engagement but they have ‘influence’ can move content? Even the most ho-hum post will move, if it’s got a catchy headline on the right site.

      Then there’s the other side – you read X, you share Y, you’re caught in that echo chamber blah blah. Who says? We are what we write, what we share – but that’s not ALL we are. Guess this is as much for myself, as I start trying to make good on some of the tricks to unDyson my blog and build my career, reminding that it hasn’t changed me, I’m not under anyone’s influence or thrall – the wine, maybe. 😉

  3. What a great discussion Davina! I think there is a disconnect between a lot of what you see online and real world influence/impact. I like how Mark Schaefer defines online influence as simply the ability to “move content.” I think people who imbue it with more than that miss the mark.

    I rarely concern myself with the trends and the fits of ennui that seem to go around the ‘sphere. I think if you are doing this for business, then you just need to find out how it can help your business and adapt as you go — which seems like what you are doing.
    Adam recently posted..In Defense of Customer Service Scripts

    1. Well exactly, and plenty of people are doing ok in this industry w/out all this. I’m gonna change things, maybe lists, certainly content more SEO friendly and for the ones doing the hiring. May not hit this audience, but it’s somewhere I need to go for myself.

      I’m familiar w/ Mark’s idea of moving content but even in that context there are times I think it’s more celebrity or brand awareness moving things, combination of fame and mass. Other times things get moved due to personal, internal motivations – the need to be seen doing so, creating a perception that you’re ‘in the know’, trying to get favor w/ in crowd, etc. – rather external influence. Times people have asked – hey donate to this, share here – it’s been a small, easy thing to do, and about the mutual relationship we’ve developed. So in that light I guess the friendship does influence. FWIW.

  4. Let’s do it Jayme! We can figure out how to make it happen:) And Davina…I know you were talking about being tired of “playing the game”…I just lumped that into being tired of social, so to speak, because so much online is like a never-ending-story/game.

  5. You are correct…we can do a virtual scene and bang it up…

    I just had this conversation with a peer; we’ve only been talking about that very thing for a few years now. What we deduced is that we’re both flitters — I flit to the next cool new toy and play and then move on to another. Doesn’t bode well for working for myself for real; like marketing myself, not being self-employed.

    The future for me is passive income; how can I engage those channels so when I’m 80 and can’t play tennis any more I can be rich online?
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Crutchfield Direct Meets Content Marketing

    1. Hmm virtual .. thinking I’ve got an idea, might have to make it a blog, or even something like your Friday series. Some people, I know their schticks – others, not so much. I’m going to have to put up or shut up, get to know people a little better. For example – just looked at your LI. No idea about the German, or legal and health care sectors. Be good to know. Again w/ the thinking..

  6. I was just thinking about a couple of good friends the other day. Both friends are very successful in their careers (they do not work in PR) and highly respected. Neither one of them blogs, tweets or is very active on social media (one does not have a Facebook account at all). Hmmm…

    1. Oh I love the irony of being in this sector Alison. Other industries, professionals can do well by all this, but also take it or leave it; depends on if the others in their spheres by into any of it. All the advice we give others – where to advertise, how to promote, the tips and tricks – kinda don’t apply to us. We’re in the ‘success’ business so the need to see and ‘be seen’ as successful – w/ the perfect Twitter stream, great online profiles, well-read blog, blah blah. And we’re not supposed to need help either, right? Sigh.

  7. Yes…people are tired. What used to look like a carnival now looks like the day-after-the-carnival, littered with piles and piles of “stuff” that, at the end of the day…what significant, beneficial difference does it really make? I’m not a cynic, but I’m definitely tired. As I mentioned on @craigmcbreen post, I too, am looking to be more Frankie as well.

    I haven’t blogged in almost two weeks, taking time to regain perspective and re-evaluate. A worthy exercise. But as I jumped back into the fray today, looked at all the posts that have really all the same topics and headlines and attempts to lure this-way-not-that…well, it looks like the day after the carnival after all.

    However, I’m not casting blame. After all, I make my own choices and decisions, and take my own action. Thanks for a spot on post Davina, and Jayme…so much of what you said resonates deeply with me. Cheers! Kaarina
    Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..Snowbound and Seeing with Fresh Eyes

    1. Gonna have to reread this; wasn’t going for “I’m tired of being social” so much as “I’m tired of playing the game – based on what others ‘think’ they know.” You know that one ‘bad’ tweet which gggrrr… not everything we share or write is for everyone; not every connection a BFF; no one is influencing me until they start signing my paychecks.

      Kaarina I’ve got to get it done, make the changes needed to use this blog, my networking to drive more traffic and potential business, employers my way. It’s going to turn off a few readers; and I’m gonna have to learn to be ok with it. FWIW.

    2. Kaarina, you and I have spoken, too, about these things. I think the passion for change and newness has to come deep from within. Where did you get that spark to launch the A to Z blog series that engaged an entire community for life with you? How did you associate with that PR maven who does books and brought you instant cred via a webinar and blog post? Those things are new!

      You’re trying new vehicles to drive ROI, and I have to say, I bet you got more jazz than new business…hopefully that crystallized a few sparks for you.

      Now, back at the ranch…wouldn’t it be cool to develop a podcast series together? Blog Talk Radio on what we know best? Small business marketing and coaching?

      It’s where I’d like to go next; I don’t have the bandwidth to do it alone, though. Don’t want to make that another flit! Ideas.R.Us. Sigh.
      Jayme Soulati recently posted..The Happy Friday Series: Embrace Happiness Today!

  8. Girl. This post is ever so much more poignant than you think. I spent time last evening, FINALLY, visiting folks I’ve been neglecting and seeing what the pulse is amongst the circles.

    My deduction? People are tired; I mean, really tired, of this race to which treasure?

    You need a book or three; you need a newly designed responsive website every quarter; you need to moderate a G+ group; you need to blog every day; you need an email list miles long; you need, you need, you need to be an influencer.

    Really? WHO SAYS?

    @craigmcbreen has backed off to “do it his way.” @kdillabough is lamenting everything she’s reading on blogs and to what gain? @billdorman is blogging on occasion and focusing on building a paying practice. @margieclayman is “worried” about the A Listers…not sure why, but she’s worried they’re not looking over their shoulder for the rest of us to catch up or some such.

    At the end of the day, none of US are going to earn your Brewer Bacon. You’re not going to hire me, either. Nor are these peeps I keep great company with. So, what’s the upshot? We can play this game (for me it’s reaching 5 years of steady connecting/interacting/putting myself out there for all the world to see), but the gain HAS TO BE front and center. It’s called earning a living and to date, none of this stuff we do is that lucrative that we can quit our day job — oh, yeah, did I mention, WE ARE PR?
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Crutchfield Direct Meets Content Marketing

    1. Girl this post has been written and edited so many times, but never really getting anywhere that’s different .. figured it was time to update links and hit publish.

      This isn’t so much ‘I’m tired of this’ so much as I am the presumptions, and the feeling of being in a fishbowl, the perception of being judged. Except I mean, I know no one is really paying any attention to little old me.. yet I’m still careful to explain myself, qualify things. And it’s disturbing; this idea that ‘one bad tweet’ could stop a client or kill a job – all based on the assumption that we ‘know.’

      “You have to be …. Really? WHO SAYS?” – If I had a dollar for every time I thought that. I want to work, not do all the posturing to get it. And I can, should work – I’ve got the smarts, so I have to make the changes necessary to get it. If that means being less social, ok then; more “Link bait heavy, SEO friendly LISTS” to attract the right prospects, so be it. Won’t mean I’ve lost my way.

      And FWIW if a certain kind of project came along I could hire you, form a little virtual agency as needed. Or vice versa – that’s one great thing about this networking, right – we meet other smart people? 🙂

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