Echo Chamber of One is Lame

I wrote that headline in a comment on Jayme’s blog on how to give good link love, thought it fit with this idea. And damn if she didn’t beat me to the punch with her post on amplifying the echo chamber, then Ari Herzog topped her last Thursday. (Grrr arrgh.)

Community and Sameness

Communities are great. Read the commments on posts by Ingrid Abboud, John Falchetto, Danny Brown, Mark Schaefer. Read Spin Sucks or Marcus Sheridan, Waxing Unlyrical or Margie Clayman.

The posts are often excellent and yet, merely the jumping off point for some good discussions and nice debate. I LIKE and WORD and WHAT SHE SAID all over the place. Eventually though we hit a tipping point where the discussion stops moving forward as we’re all agreeing with each other, the dissenters having left the building.

See also Kary Delaria on changes in Twitter, who got me thinking in a number of ways.

One voice X 1K followers = an echo in here?

Don’t misunderstand me I love it when I get to talk with my friends, run across a bunch of folks I know chatting it up in comments and on Twitter. And yet, if everyone is reading and sharing each others posts, isn’t that eventually going to lead to more of the same?

It’s tricky. I read about PR, social media and marketing because that’s what I do, it’s what interests me. And not to pick on Jayme again but she raises good points in efforts to push the PR envelope forward, asking if we are all talking to each other. An obvious solution is to talk to someone else.

This is a short, simple challenge (to myself as much as anyone) to fight sameness.

  • Do a search for a different topic. Go crazy, search for two different topics. I tried yesterday, once I got past the news, my boredom with Fast Company.. hard to think of other ways to search for things related to branding, small business marketing, social media without running across more posts on Google+.
  • Read different. Skip the usual suspects in the reader and Twitter feed for a few days, see what happens. Also harder than it seems – I miss my friends as there’s a reason I read them: they write good stuff.

I am trying to mix in different content, not concerned about the ‘influence’ or rank of the author. I try to read more bloggers who don’t only write about marketing and PR, social media and blogging. I’m unfollowing some to make room for more, more diversity, more originality, more of what I like and even a little of what I don’t.. to keep me honest.

 It’s the differences that can make things interesting, so this is just me.. attempting to fight sameness, whatever that means.

What are you doing differently? Any other ideas?

Photo credit: Newsvetter Gumshoo comic.

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40 thoughts on “Echo Chamber of One is Lame

    1. I will share any goods I find, Marlee. FWIW folks like yourself, people who write about life and inspiration, so many other things – this is one way I’m trying to stretch myself. I don’t want to skip or ‘miss’ my friends and interests all together, but can’t let that monopolize my time either.. to the point I’m shutting myself off in the echo chamber. Glad you stopped by today.

  1. One of the things that makes the Anubis tribe (a la Triberr) so awesome is the variety. I’m doing this with my Rockstar tribe. I welcome interesting people who write interesting things regardless of niche.

    I’ve argued (gently) that this is the way forward. Curate people. Not topics. Not niche. It will enrichen you, your feed, and the people you are reaching. Just saying.

    Stan Faryna recently posted..Are You Ready for Love? And Other Social Media DOHs. Faryna Podcast EP5. #nicheamnesty

    1. Thanks for the hug and it’s good advice Stan.. find people we like, find writers – regardless of topic – and give them a chance. I’ve really opened up my reading and sharing other things by meeting some interesting people, then seeing what they have to write. Thanks.

  2. OK Davina, enough of the bombs, just want to give you a big ‘amen’ for questioning this idea of sameness in the echo chamber. I think, as bloggers, the echo chamber is great at first. But we all reach a point, if we stay in this game long enough, where we need more than that. We need to push the thought envelope. And if we don’t, we feel like we’re selling ourselves short.

    Great read lady. 🙂

    Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..That Ain’t My Shtick…The Power of Knowing Who You Are in Business

    1. Glad you enjoyed this Marcus and as you can see, I blame myself more than anyone else. It’s a GREAT problem to have, being part of such a smart community. I could easily read and share – with my own personal touch of course – posts from anyone in this comment thread all the time and be sharing great value.

      Yet as we all do that, it does run the risk of groupthink and inside jokes and as Jayme putting, amplifying the echo chamber. I tried today but of course the news I read on Google’s front page is the same it is for anyone else; so gotta think smarter and spend more time – online and off – looking for different.

      Thanks for the comment bombs sir, you rock. 🙂

  3. There is no doubt that groupthink is alive and well in the blogosphere. Killing “blogging about blogging” is definitely one step in the right direction.

    Also, Davina, you’ve inspired me to create a new twitter list. I have a number of people who followed me on T, whom I was interested enough to follow back. However, the reality is that unless you are on a list; I don’t know your tweets exist. This should help with some fresh perspective. Also, I still try to read things like Harvard Business Review, etc. That helps as well.
    Adam Toporek recently posted..3 Small Business Ebooks Worth Buying

    1. I read a post today, one of those “5 ways or 5 places to do this” kind of post, very generic and about networks with which I am already familiar. On Sunday, I flipped through a number of stories in major biz outlets and was underwhelmed. HBR is in my reader I think, a matter of interest if/when I read. I hear ya on the groupthink Adam; I’m challenging myself not to get stagnant, keep learning and pushing forward as best I can. Thanks.

    2. I’m going to disagree with a few folks here including Adam (cuz I love ya buddy 😉 ). I don’t think we should ever kill blogging about blogging. Why? Because blogging is an art. Some people are great at it. Some suck at it. But we can all get better. Personally, I don’t tire reading about better blogging practices, and don’t think I will. And if it’s a topic about blogging that I’ve read before, although it may not have value for me, it sure may for another newbie. FWIW 😉
      Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..That Ain’t My Shtick…The Power of Knowing Who You Are in Business

      1. It’s a mixed bag Marcus, Adam. Generic posts about plugins and blog promotion and monetization strategies and content ideas .. yes, they have their place but it’s more of the ‘blogging about blogging for bloggers.’ I’ll read those posts once in a while but it’s not as relevant to me per my goals as a blogger, esp. since my blog isn’t my business.

        Now blogging about blogging issues.. comment strategies, when I rant on certain RT tools and share options, so many other things… it’s looking at blogging through the wide-angle lens of community, engagement, marketing, branding and overall business strategy. I think that’s what a lot of us try to do. There’s a difference and I think it shows. FWIW.

      2. First off Marcus, back at ya on the love. Always fun disagreeing with you. 🙂

        On this, I think we only half disagree, because I will qualify my comment, since I don’t always choose my words that precisely when commenting. I would change “kill” blogging about blogging to “limit”. Of course, someone has to write about blogging, but I also think that it is a cop out for a lot of bloggers. This actually relates to your post about “schtick” (heading back there next).

        For many bloggers, blogging about blogging is their mission, for others like you it is a strong part of their content and brand. For others, including many of my blogging friends and myself, it seems like the easy way out — a way to write about a topic that will get automatic engagement (b/c we all have blogging in common) even if it deviates from the mission of the site.

        Now, to Davina’s point, the line is not always black and white. There is the “wide angle lens” of community etc. but there are times when it just seems like the blogger has taken the path of least resistance.
        Adam Toporek recently posted..3 Small Business Ebooks Worth Buying

        1. I hear what you’re saying Adam.. path of least resistance or even, the easy way. I have posts drafted: lists of other posts on Facebook or reasons why a blogger should respond to trackbacks. And there’s a reason they are in drafts: they’re kinda filler. Yes you should respond to trackbacks, but do I really need to blog the same topics? I confess, I am just as guilty of sometimes as sticking in that rut, no matter how differently I try to write them.

          That said I think many of the folks I read, especially Marcus bring those kind of posts home in very real ways: examples of how it worked, how this type of blogging or tweeting lead to this kind of success. And now I need to get over to the Schtick post. 🙂

  4. Oh, *sigh*, just when I was learning to be more social and focused on building community, you’ve got me thinking again about going back to my old “loner” ways! Ha. 😉

    The echo chamber is problematic, but I do have a good mix of blogs in my Google reader from various niches, so I don’t really feel confined by it.

    I admit that I’ve begun to enjoy the community feel on some blogs I visit, mostly because if I go off on a tangent of visiting too many different sites, I tend to lose focus and I could literally be surfing all night.

    So I like to visit the usual suspects and perhaps check out a few people I come across in the comments sections and such. Then I’m done until the next day. If I start hearing that echo, though, I have lots of other secondary blogs that I can escape to for a “perspective refresh”.

    As far as trying to avoid adding to the echo chamber with my writing, I tend to rely on meditation and reading books or magazines, not blogs, to inspire my posts for the most part.
    Tisha | tMedia recently posted..On Being Original & Why Your 15 Minutes is Already Over

    1. And your current post looks like it fits here Tisha, about being original. Communities are great and wonderful, but there are times I do feel like I’ve put myself in a silo a bit when I see what folks are writing, checking out their Twitter streams and it’s each others posts, over and over. I of course realize that building a community is not a one-shot deal, it takes time and is never done. As you grow, so to should your community.. I just think to keep it going, there needs to be some shake ups once in a while, a little of that fresh perspective you mentioned. FWIW.

  5. Uh, talk about myself………that’s different, right? Is it ok to have a non-niche site?

    Actually, I do have a varied mix of people I connect with. You might see me at a mommy blogger’s site; a tech site; a porn………er, uh ladies site……oh wait, that’s not my twitter account. Stop it Dorman……..

    I’m more into the networking and I’m not that concerned about ‘sameness’, I usually can find something to relate to talk about and for now, that’s good enough for me.

    Thanks for sharing this. Also, I’m glad you are not concerned about rank or influence so you will come by my place. Hopefully, I am not one of those on the chopping block……..

    Hope your day went well.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..Things are definitely going to change around here

    1. I went to a ‘new’ blog today, commented and shared the post and was kinda surprised to see so few comments on a post with 200 RTs. But one thing I didn’t look or care about was the influence score before I left my comment.. just my way.

      I’ve mixed it up commenting a variety places, have personal Twitter for those chats and stuff. I like to think I know a variety of people Bill – and have been happy to discover a few via your comment section on your excellent non-niche site. 🙂 This is just my way of reminding myself (and others) to be open to that, to do more than just read and share the same stuff everyone else is over and over. FWIW.

  6. I currently subscribe to more than 350 blogs in Google Reader. Instead of choosing only blogs that are closely related to the marketing niche, I’ve added a diverse array of topics. In addition to the marketing/PR/social media genre, I also read about the following: writing/freelancing, general small business, personal development, dogs, movies, career development/human resources, and blogging. (I’m still a newbie blogger, so I find the advice and technical tips invaluable.)

    I try to comment on a variety of topics throughout the week, instead of only commenting on the same blogs over and over. When I get tired of a topic (like I also did with G+) I just skip those posts and move on. There’s always something interesting out there–you just need to find it. And you might meet some very cool people along with way.
    Marianne Worley recently posted..Growing Up in the Cupboard Under the Stairs

    1. I think I do that now Marianne. I like to read silly and snarky things on movies and TV, so it’s Popwrap and Funny or Die and Television without Pity. I’ll get pulled into pretty pics on National Geographic, flip through so many other things, read a thing on wine today … when I have time.

      I do skip some of the same blogs, to ‘make’ time for others.. then check back in once in a while. When I know I haven’t visited someone’s site in a while I’ll check.. it’s how I’ve noticed if some folks are taking a summer break, sticking with ‘blogging’ posts, etc. IDK I’m realizing the finding is the hard part; and I’m getting pickier regarding what I find interesting as well as noticing I need to mix up what I write. Since what I read often inspires or influences my writing, I want to be aware of that. FWIW.

      1. I hear ya about changing up what I’m writing about. There was so much negative chatter going around last week. That’s why I decided to write an entirely positive post (the readability tips). I realized that I was often focusing on what people are doing wrong instead of taking a positive tone and helping them do things better.
        Marianne Worley recently posted..Growing Up in the Cupboard Under the Stairs

        1. That and I’m getting a little burned out on some topics, or at least don’t want to just pile on. Think that’s why some of my posts are a little ‘late’ – I want to consider what I’m posting, let it sit a while before I edit and publish.

  7. Stop reading online content exclusively. I have found inspiration from Discover, National Geographic and even VOGUE magazines! It is about relating a new perspective to principles we practice or explore daily. Also, I have various categories of people I follow across online channels and I switch out which stacks or circles are visible on a daily basis.
    Lauren Vargas recently posted..It Takes A Village To Tell A Story

    1. Great tip Lauren. That quote I shared with Jayme about echo chambers, from a Discovery science blog post. I get inspiration from other sources, read about entertainment, food and wine, travel, news .. really a mix of everything and YES need to take it offline and step out of the blogs. I do need to switch things up more, hadn’t tried hiding or muting some groups/circles.. may give that one a try. Thanks so much.

  8. I call it whipping each other up into a frenzy. 🙂
    First, I agree with John – let’s talk about other things than blogging when we blog. We don’t talk about talking when we talk.
    I am following thousands of people in twitter – sometimes, I hop in there and start clicking on new things. When I see something I like, I look at their blogroll, and there it goes…. lots of new ideas. But it’s not easy to find, so it takes some time.

    Thanks for the link love too.
    Lisa Gerber recently posted..Communication Tips for Netflix

    1. Thanks for the blogroll shout-out Lisa, I’m still big on those. One disappointment I have is when I find a ‘new’ blog.. seeing the same old standards and “A-listers” in the blogroll, yet little engagement on the blogs. IDK. You’re right of course about not blogging about blogging; it’s a trap I’ve tried to avoid as I try not to write the ‘5 ways to use this plugin’ kind of posts. My problem is still interest and goals; how to go about reading and writing on topics that pertain to my business without getting into that rut, then finding something else to write that still addresses those goals. Hmm.. more thinking. Thanks.

  9. As I was just saying via a Google Chat with a mutual acquaintance, between the “tribes” and the “gated community” commenting platforms, soon a relatively small group of social media people will only be promoting/commenting on/to one another’s blog posts.

    Talk about an echo chamber. Particularly when it’s generally a lot of back-patting about one another’s wonderful “community.” Have you also noticed how fast people are to DEFEND one another’s posts and actions, regardless of the validity of the criticism (especially if it’s from someone outside the clique).

    I’m getting bored by a lot of bloggers. Especially when so much important and dramatic things are going on in the other world. The real one.

    Speaking of which, today’s #commschat (based out of the UK; starts at 3 p.m. ET):

    Tonight’s #CommsChat comms heads of Oxfam, Plan & Save the Children #whatsanhourworth & on FB

    1. Thanks for the chat invite, but my schedule won’t allow. There’s something about the communities Judy.. I don’t write things that are all that polarizing, don’t think I linkbait and call out others for the sake of controversy; I write what’s on my mind. Like Jayme said… my communities have developed naturally because I found like minded folks who were smart, engaging. It gets comfortable and friendly, not a bad thing by any means; it just brings more of the same.

      Speaking of the real world, think I’ll have to drag up some usage stats. I was at a meeting last week and even among those who were in marketing, PR.. there was little talk of the blogosphere. Now on the one hand that was refreshing but on the other, it was a little disturbing to hear someone say (and sell) that they do ‘social media’ yet they’ve never heard of Klout or G+. IDK.. I keep coming back to my personal stats, which are that I know more people, have more personal friends not involved with being social than are. They don’t even know an echo chamber exists.. and yeah, think I’ll have to blog that someday. FWIW.

      1. Call me pragmatic (or cynical), but I think a true community takes a lot longer to build than a few months, whether online or off.

        Frequent commenters are another thing. Agreed, they are drawn by: a) quality, relevance and timeliness of a post, but also by b) quality of comments it receives and/or the dynamics.

        I find a lot of so-called “blog communities” cloying. I think if those conversations were happening in a real-life room, I might develop diabetes.

        Not that I don’t like to have witty fun….

        Sorry you can’t make #commschat today; maybe in future.
        Judy Gombita recently posted..Arthur Yann: public relations in a fishbowl

        1. It does take time, no question. I have been at this a while now, believe me.. a lot of time and work has gone into it. Both you and Lisa have me smiling on the real world dynamics, picturing people talking like they blog and comment .. “oh I like what you just said, let me tell you what I just said on that the other day blah blah.” Yup.. more thinking and maybe, deleting some ‘blogging’ drafts or at least trying to think of some ideas. Thanks.

    1. The time throws me off too, I try to watch out for it unless it’s a very current, topical post. I think I linked to the right post though. It is relative Ari.. be the tiny ‘boom’ in a box full of duds, you’ll stand out like a star. Tell the ‘same old thing’ in a way no one else has, that makes others ‘get it’ and it can work. Thanks.

  10. Heh, heh, heh. Wow; you got 3 “hehs,” Hats.

    Sameness is boring; it’s killing all of us and it’s SO comfy. I fell into this “trap” but didn’t start out this way — it just happened. The voice feels right, the community feels right, but there ain’t no new business amongst our own, right?

    I think this all boils squarely down to strategy. When I started, my strategy was to be an influencer and thought leader. It’s time to move along to phase two, yet it also takes time; just like what John said and is doing above.

    You and I have been doing this stealing thing for awhile, D, and I don’t think it will stop as long as we’re buds on the sphere. Love your yodel toon; reminds me of my Grams, RIP, who was a yodeler for real. Thanks for picking on me! Love that.
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Big Blogger, Little Blogger Conundrum

    1. Much the same strategy Jayme, a lot of my leads come from peer referrals. To share a favorite comment that just stuck with me: “Credibility is built inside the echo chamber, popularity outside.” In positioning ourselves as thought leaders and experts, we’ve done our thing; now it’s time for phase 2 as you say and building popularity with those outside the circles. Of course, finding folks not like us that are talking about growing a business with PR and social media – those biting fish – that’s the real trick. Never knew a yodeler, glad you liked the comic and that it reminded you of your Grams. Happy to pick on you when I can. 🙂

    2. Big props to you Jayme for talking about this subject–and you too D’. It’s soooo easy to get stuck in a rut. They way I see it, if the exact same people are commenting on my blog 90% of the time, I’m not doing too well. Lately, I’ve seen a ton of fresh faces, and it has been greatly rewarding. Thanks again.

      Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..That Ain’t My Shtick…The Power of Knowing Who You Are in Business

  11. My recent attempt at fighting sameness is
    1. Stop blogging about blogging (as much), yes I know these posts bring a lot of traffic but it makes me feel in the echo chamber, a lot.
    2. Look into my experiences in life and as a business owner to share some hard earned lessons. Since no two people have the same experience and life, this makes for some unique content.
    3. I have re-arranged my lists on Hootsuite, along different categories
    4. Unsubscribed and added some new blogs in my Reader

    Sameness is a killer, where I see it the most is G+, a whole bunch of early adopters talking about G+ among themselves… ;(
    John Falchetto recently posted..Change, New Opportunities, and Finding Meaning

    1. Good ideas John. I try not to write as many ‘blogging about blogging’ posts, though actually my next post is about blogging, with a specific question. I don’t do it for traffic but usually in a broader social context. Not sure I share experiences per se, but I think when I really find my ‘unique’ take on something.. it shows. I’ve already started unsubscribing to some things in the reader, unfollowing some in Twitter; the harder part is finding what to add.

      Speaking of G+, yes I have a post drafted. And yes, I think it’s too soon to call pretty much anything on that front. I am experimenting and seeing if and how I’ll use it differently, what can it do better. Already have privacy concerns, so there’s that. One thing I have liked that I did was ask a G+ specific question and get a few answers from a couple users. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts. For wine I will. 🙂

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