This week I’ve seen several examples of ‘rule-breaking’ in marketing and social media. Minimalist business writer Everett Bogue has decided to turn off commenting on his popular Far Beyond The Stars blog. John Boitnott writes about how the New York Times breaks every ‘rule’ of Facebook Page management practice but has 700k+ ‘fans’. To top it off, Seth Godin announced that he’ll no longer be publishing traditional books.
I’m sure there will be, perhaps already has been, backlash and copycats in equal parts.
But what these folks are demonstrating to me is the luxury that success provides. And success can really be defined as having developed an audience that transcends the platform – audience meaning real, product-buying, idea-sharing people – not just numbers of passive ’followers’.
In trying to develop that elusive audience we tend to follow certain best practices in use of our blogs, social media etc, because these things help expand our platform and reach. What Bogue, Godin and the NY Times are finding is that when you have established your audience, you are free to connect and communicate with them in whichever ways you choose – the “rules” don’t really apply any more.
Does that mean that you (or I) should turn off your comments? Not unless you are truly using your blog only to publish thoughts and not looking for feedback. Should you use your Facebook Page as nothing more than an RSS feed? Probably not unless you want the Page to languish. Of course, you don’t have to use these specific tools – but you DO have to be doing something that is creating a viable audience for you.
It doesn’t mean that traditional book publishing is now bad– it just doesn’t serve Seth’s purpose any more. He’s maxed out that platform for what he was using it for – spreading his ideas. Blog commenting is not a thing of the past – it’s just not serving Everett’s purpose of running a minimalist business. These guys are just demonstrating how you use the tools you use to serve your purpose, you don’t use them at the expense of your purpose.
The ability to bend rules grows in proportion to your audience size, or perhaps more accurately, in proportion to the commitment of your audience to you or your business. So for you and I, keep on developing your audience in any and all ways that serve your purpose and that allow your ideas, products and contributions to shine.
What do you think? Are there “rules” you can break and still be successful in developing your businesses? What, if anything will you change, or what rules would you break when you have the luxury of whatever success means to you?
*header image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/b-love/2848259567/