The cost of content is decreasing, but the importance of content is increasing. Now and in the future, your main differentiator will be your personal brand.  Distribution and promotional costs are being reduced in price because of social media tools that allow you to achieve both.  More and more people are preaching that “social media is free,” yet the labor cost is extremely high.  Visibility is becoming just as important, if not more important, than money because everyone needs it just as much as they need food, water, internet, etc.  You can look at visibility in a positive and a negative way.

Positive: Visibility creates opportunities.

Negative: Lack of visibility creates commodity.

Narcissism and the need to be visible

There has been much chatter in the past few years about the narcissism epidemic with online personal brands. Some blame it on the “Me 2.0” 😉 generation (Gen-Y) and others feel that it’s everyone.  People are sharing updates across networks that are both personal and professional, without giving much thought to who is viewing their updates and what impact they may or may not have.  By perception alone, updating your status message is about attention seeking.  People want you to know if they got press or if they just launched a business or if they are going on a exotic vacation.  This need always excited but now the internet has given people a channel to show this quality.

Two interesting research reports:

  • 80% of people on Twitter self-promote and 20% of people share information (Miami Herald).
  • 57% of young people feel that their generation uses social media for self-promotion (Youth Pulse).

The reason for this trend I believe is that it’s much easier for people to talk about themselves than to talk about others.  I also truly feel that people understand that if they don’t make their lives visible, no one will know what they are up to.  As you grow older, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep in touch with old friends, but these tools allow you to update them so they can follow your life, without any effort.

Visibility or money?

Depending on your current situation and career goals, you will value visibility over money or the other way around. If you’re looking for a long-term brand building strategy with future potential of revenues, then you may want to sacrifice some compensation right now.  Brands can demand a premium price over commodities and since brands take years to build (and a lot of effort), it’s easy to grab the paycheck and run, instead of making the investment.  People are starting to put prices and value on the number of friends you have online because the number of friends you have is viewable.

It’s harder to attract new followers and build a bigger platform by constantly selling to people instead of giving value and in the end the platform you build will be much more monetizable than any amount of money you made along the way.  What would you rather have, money now, or the brand to monetize later?

You crave visibility, don’t lie

We’re on the brink of a mass attention craving society that will relinquish money for visibility. I’ve seen it many times and it will occur even more in the future because everyone is now a competitor.  Your neighbor, your coworkers, your classmates, and everyone else is competing for visibility.  People will write for your blog, your magazine, your book and anything else that has viewership for free, even if you lack subscribers.  The reason for this is two fold:  they want links back to their site for traffic and PageRank purposes and they want more attention in hopes that it will convert into more subscribers or other opportunities.

“Visibility multiplies.” – Tom Peters

What most people don’t recognize is that if you get one press hit, it might become six more.  Journalists, producers and bloggers read each other and if they see you as a potential source for a future article, they may reach out to you, which creates more visibility.  The hardest part is to get the initial boost in visibility that will start the domino effect.  In my opinion, if you can start small (not Forbes level) and then slowly build your profile over time (like I did), you will be able to engineer this visibility effect that will send your brand to the moon.

Remember: If you aren’t visible, then you don’t exist to the world.

Your turn

Are you visibile?  Would you sacrifice money today to build your brand and make much more tomorrow?