Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

The recent news of Michael Jackson's death has a lot of people rattled. When an icon of that stature passes, it's natural for a whole generation of people to reflect on nostalgic times, pine for what could have been, and think about lessons for our own lives.

In this case, I couldn't help but be struck by a similarity between Michael Jackson's status and that of some so-called social media "rock stars."

I've always been a little hesitant to anyone self assigning expert or "rock star" status. To me, experts are deemed so by others, after an individual has put in plenty of hard work and dedication. And the whole "rock star" thing boggles my mind. There seems to be a cult of weblebrities - people who are Internet famous - where social media types celebrate each other with more and more fervor. My question is: why?

The reason I tied it in with Michael Jackson is because I read a recent column written by the Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who was MJ's spiritual advisor for a time. He makes a very profound yet simple observation about what fueled Jackson's passion for fame:
"He needed the throngs, he thrived on the adulation of the crowds...In many ways his tragedy was to mistake attention for love...Money [or fame] is not a currency by which we can purchase self-esteem and being recognized on the streets will never replace being loved unconditionally by family and true friends."

The strange thing is, I see a lot of this behavior in some social media types. And it's kind of sad, really. It's like they're busily trying to replace something that's missing in real life. To understand the absurdity of it, I'll give you an example of an exchange I witnessed:
Person 1: "You've never heard of [insert name of social media "rock star" of your choice here]??" (I'm leaving the name out to protect the innocent)
Person 2: "When my mother has heard of him, then you know he's famous."

But let's not kid ourselves. Using social media as part of your marketing mix is far more than recruiting some uber-connected individual who can bring attention to your brand. It starts with crafting a strategy and understanding what your business objectives are. And it means never, ever taking your eye off the customer and doing what matters - providing value to them. After all, isn't that what you're in business for?

A poignant reminder from Seth Godin (as interviewed by Debbie Weil) on that very topic here:

(Facebook readers, click through for the video)

Photo source: ovaratli (Flickr)