Value vs. Popularity: What is More Important in Digital Marketing?

With the advent of social media, the average person has an unprecedented reach to the entire world. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and many others have done an incredible job of providing an avenue for anyone to gain online influence. Once they figure out what they offer that people are willing to pay for, the platforms are there to reach large audiences that were too expensive to do previously. In the past, being popular would carry a lot of value in the in-person, social sense. You might know a lot of people or have a lot of people know you. Geography would dictate where the social currency of popularity would have influence.

When talking about value, the relative worth of something would be determined by what people were willing to trade for it. It could be a solution, product, or service that someone was willing to pay for. At the fundamental level, each party would have something that the other party found valuable and would be willing to do an amicable trade for.

Where value and popularity were more distinct in the past, the way that marketing has evolved in the last two decades has blurred the lines of value and popularity. Now, being popular online, having a lot of subscribers or followers, can translate into real value for those that can increase their popularity online. YouTube will pay you based on how many views your videos get. Companies will sponsor you based on how many subscribers’ feeds you can get their product into on Instagram.

Being able to connect with people used to be an art. Before it was more widely understood, the skill of connecting to people was something you had or didn’t have. Over time, incorporating psychology, sociology, anthropology, and even economics, has turned this art into a science. As marketing techniques evolve to be more sophisticated, having an understanding of popularity and value will prepare you for success whether you’re the marketer, or the one being marketed to. 

Sex Never Gets Old But You Do

Instagram is full of fit and beautiful girls in bikinis or sexually suggestive outfits. The sexier the outfit or the sexier the post, the more followers and likes that profile will gain. The same could be said for ultra fit guys pitching a work out program. With consistent posting, Instagrammers could gather tens, or even hundreds of thousands of followers. When companies want to promote their product, they will look for profiles with large subscriber bases. These profiles already have the validation and credibility with their subscriber base so it’s an easy foot in the door.

More over, they’ll look for specific profiles that will fall in line with the values the products stand for. Whether it is health, beauty, fitness, or energy, companies will partner with certain Instagram users to ride on their popularity to reach their subscriber base. They will usually have a designated code to track the referral back to the Instagram profile so that profile owner will get a percentage of the whatever the product sells for.

Something that these Instagram influencers have to be aware of is that their sex appeal will last for a while as long as they take care of themselves. However, Internet users are fickle. If you’re not consistently providing what they’re looking for, your sex appeal may not be enough for others to go out and buy the product.

Know Your Product Timeline

If someone is able to leverage his or her popularity and subscriber base, it’s such an amazing thing! The first time some sort of revenue or pay off comes in, they might feel like they’ve been blessed with a goose that lays golden eggs. This may last for a little while, or possibly even a long while. But without fail, unless what someone is offering continues to provide ongoing value, that person’s popularity and appeal will surely fade over time.

That being said, a person should set some sort of expectation for himself or herself, preferably a realistic one, of how long they plan on using this particular method of popularity based value generation to support them. For example, if a fitness model’s goal is to generate a huge subscriber base based on her pictures exercising or traveling to exotic destinations, she better make sure that she’s fit, has contracts in place for continued sponsorships with product lines, or is simply making and saving enough for the inevitable day that the gig is up or is no longer viable.

The biggest mistake that anyone can make is forgetting the fickle nature of consumers armed with virtually limitless information playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner in the court of public opinion. By its very definition, the coolness factor of something has a timeline built into it. The coolness factor reaches a peak and starts declining over time. As the old adage of “always keep them wanting more” applies, once something really starts to pick up, it’s already time to start moving onto the next thing iteration or gimmick before the decline starts.

If you can be like an airplane at cruising altitude in the way that you come up with ideas and offerings for your audience, you can just keep flying high. Otherwise, waiting until the wave of popularity dies out will cause you to expend a tremendous amount of energy to get back up to cruising altitude again.

Is What You Offer Timeless?

With time being such an invincible force in the dynamic of popularity, what is the best way to have time be on your side when it comes to marketing and reaching out to your audience? What you provide or offer would have to be something that fills a continuous need. What are some of the basics? Food, Sleep, Sex, Water, Air. So far, no one has tried to directly corner the market on air (and I hope no one ever does because that would mean that society and the planet as a whole has reached a pretty dark and dismal place).

When it comes to these basics, little to no marketing is needed to inform people about the importance of these essentials in your life. Most of the time, marketing for these basics come down to trying to show which one is a better option. For example, there are so many different brands of bottled water but they are all, essentially just water to serve the purpose of keeping you hydrated. But there are so many brands, Fiji, Voss, Arrowhead, Dasani, Smart Water and each of these brands use marketing to differentiate themselves from the others. It’s the same thing for toilet tissue. There is absolutely no question that everyone needs toilet tissue and the different brands out there, Charmin, Angel Soft, Cottonelle, etc, are all competing for your dollar.

At the end of the day, the value that something or someone offers doesn’t come down to the actual product itself. It comes from the benefit that the products deliver. Is what you are offering constantly, unceasingly offering a benefit, no matter how small or large, to your subscriber base? This is what companies strive to achieve. Providing value through a benefit and offering a great experience while doing so. Essentially, to be timeless, you need to create a positive and lasting relationship with your customers and subscriber base.

A great way to practice that is starting to cultivate positive relationships with your family, loved ones, friends, and any interaction or relationship that you have with people. No doubt, there are a lot of grouchy, disgruntled, rage filled, and even hate-filled people out there. There are even dangerous people out there. The point is not to go out there and just use love and grace to approach every situation. More accurately, the point is to be aware that everyone is coming from a background of specific life experiences that have shaped their view of the world and how they engage the world. This awareness, this inclination to listen and seek to understand before being seeking to be understood is the first most crucial step in forming a positive relationship.

Strive to be a Transformer

Seeking to understand before being understood can be a big leap to make. There is so much noise and distraction trying to compete for our limited attention. The desire for someone to make themselves known, to make themselves heard is an overpowering reaction to not being heard or acknowledged. At some point during a person’s life, if they are fortunate enough to experience a moment of openness in a particular situation, they will know the benefit of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. When the shift in intent happens, going from wanting to be understood to seeking to understand, this is a transformational event because awareness of a dynamic has allowed you to alter how you approach your interactions in life.

This awareness brings more groundedness and it can be an incredible experience, all of a sudden opening up to something that you never knew was there before. What greater value can there be than in bringing this awareness to someone? Could there be something even more impactful than allowing someone to have this awareness? Absolutely! Implementing and incorporating this newfound awareness into a person’s life is way more impactful. Showing someone a hammer and nail is virtually useless unless you show them how to use it and what they can build with it!

This is where the relationship comes in. Going back to the proverbial, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Show a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime” adage, the most value is shared when you can develop a relationship with someone in the process of showing how to implement or incorporate a benefit into their life! Their life is transformed; their life is altered in a positive way that allows them to be more fulfilled, effective, and results-oriented!

There is nothing wrong with being popular. It doesn’t even really matter about the reason why someone gets popular. For the mutual benefit of a person and the audience they cater to, the best way to have a sustainable run so that you can leverage popularity is by providing value. The more consistent, the more impactful, the more transformational and timeless the value, the longer someone will be able to sustain and grow their popularity. It just goes to show, that even popularity is a function of value in the long term so always make sure that value is a benefit to the audience and subscriber base!

The Kardashians: Principles Driving their Empire

Seeing Kylie Jenner and the Kardashian family becoming insanely wealthy from their endorsements, shows, apps, etcetera, is mind-blowing. An article in Forbes (yes, Forbes) recently showcased Kylie on being one of the world’s youngest “self-made” billionaires. Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian, as well as Kylie’s sister Kendall are constantly on entertainment news, day in and day out.

The way that the Kardashian family has worked their way into popular culture is impressive. What did they do? How did they do it? I don’t know the Kardashian Family personally but there are certain qualities to their meteoric rise that are great lessons to apply on a small or large scale, in our own lives.

Famous for Being Famous?

What is it that they really do? Are they famous for simply being famous? On the surface it sure looks like this is the case. There was a “leaked” sex tape of Kim Kardashian and singer Ray-J back in 2003 that seemed to put her in the national spotlight. Shortly after that, the Kardashians became a household name, especially when Keeping Up with the Kardashians (KUWTK) began airing.

So is it that simple? Put out a sex tape, make sure it gets into the right hands and just ride that wave to millions? If only that were true!

Making a sex tape may not be the most conventional starting point when launching a business empire. I’m sure that even thought they thought about different ways to leverage this publicity to the maximum level possible, never in their wildest dreams did they think that they would be this big today.

Crisis WILL Happen, Almost Always Unexpectedly

I am not a religious follower of what’s happening in every single Kardashian or Jenner’s life. From what I do know of them these last few years, Kris Jenner, the matriarch of the clan, absolutely had a large vision for their family and was very business savvy about bringing that vision to life.

Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. She was married to Robert Kardashian, one of the OJ Simpson’s defense attorneys in the trial for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1994. After Robert Kardashian passed and she married Gold Medal Decathlete, Bruce Jenner and had a couple of kids, Kendall and Kylie.

Then one day, one of her daughters’ name is all over the headlines for a sex tape. While most mothers might panic, Kris took a pause and saw a way to turn lemons to lemonade. Imagining how some mothers might completely disown a daughter for something so private being exposed and so public, Kris deserves a tremendous amount of credit for approaching the situation the way she did; looking for the opportunity in a potentially bad situation.

Committed to a Vision

In 2003, reality shows were not a new concept. MTV’s The Real World had been on TV for 11 years and all networks were trying to figure out workable formulas for entertaining and addictive reality show concepts.

It wasn’t until 2007 that the first episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians aired. Doing the math, it took almost 4 years from when a potential crises was turned into the early beginnings of a commercial and pop culture empire.

Ask yourself if you were able to persist, persevere, and be patient throughout all the planning, throwing around concepts, negotiations, production, even convincing that had to be done to seeing this idea to fruition! Not all family members may have been aboard to have their lives completely filmed, and all privacy thrown out the window. As a matter of fact, Rob Kardashian, the youngest brother of Kardashians had a difficult time being in the public eye. He wasn’t and still isn’t prepared to deal with the exposure that comes with being a famous reality show star.

Kris Jenner was fearless in her pursuit of creating a reality show. It didn’t matter what obstacle was in her path, she was going to make this happen to take care of her family. She pushed through doubt, she pushed through failure and closed doors, and she hustled hard to make it happen.

Provide Value

Value is defined as the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. Value is something that relative depending the individual, situation, or context. What is the value of Keeping Up with the Kardashians? Are they famous for being famous by providing some sort of entertainment value? Based on the success of their show, that answer is yes.

Are they improving the lives of others? Are they making the world a better place? That can definitely be argued. One thing for certain is that the show is a powerful marketing tool for themselves, and it is amazingly effective, when combined with social and traditional media, at getting the Kardashian and Jenner families into the collective media psyche of US viewership.

This way, they can keep selling their brand, their clothing, cosmetics, and designs to a trained crowd that can never have enough of whatever the family puts out. The hustle is strong.

The big takeaways that I always have to remind myself of, every time I get irritated about how much publicity they get, is to stop being a hater and give credit where credit is due. Try to learn from the principles of how they got to where they are. Have tenacity, have a vision. Don’t give up and stay committed to your vision even when the world around you is saying impossible. Keep looking forward and understand the value you provide.

What we make of ourselves and our lives is ultimately in our hands!

BIGGEST Concerns in 2014

The expansion of the internet and computing as well as mobile technologies over the last two decades has allowed society to become ever more connected. I still remember when everyone first started using email and how I’d wait in anticipation for the time of day I could run down to the computer lab and how exciting it was to see that there were new messages in my inbox.

As social media sites such as friendster and myspace came about, ultimately leading to Facebook and a host of other social media sites, it was thrilling to all of a sudden be able to see profiles and connect with anyone, literally, around the world who had access to the internet and was a part of a social media network.

As this technology progressed even further to mobile phones and smart phone, it became even more exciting, especially with the thousands of apps out there to take advantage of all the new smartphone technology.

Over time, as technology becomes a more integrated part of our daily lives, we engage in a new type of consumption, namely, consumption of information. We have an almost insatiable hunger to read the latest news, find out what our friends are up to, learn about new products or places. It would take lifetimes to be able to consume all this information, and it would still be impossible to process it all.

Humans are social creatures, and this inherent desire to connect, coupled with amazing tools to connect in more substantial ways begs the question, “Who are we being for other people?” For as much content and information that we consume, how much of it is really adding positively to the lives of others? Is society starting to move in a direction where noise and popularity are perceived as true value?

John F. Kennedy challenged the nation when he stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” From his rally cry emerged some of the greatest advancements in science and innovation in human history, advancements that propelled the human race forward in a solid and lasting way. As the human race stands here today on the solid foundation set by the leaders and trailblazers before us, who are we being for society and what are we doing to pay it forward?

It’s funny to see the “first world problems” meme on the internet, the one where the lady looks so distressed, upset and frustrated with a caption that states a first world problem that is so trivial, yet it seems like the most earth shattering problem that has ever existed. Here is one of my favorites:

My Seat Does Not Recline All The Way On My Flight To Hawaii

We have to ask ourselves, what are we doing with our lives? Who are we being for others? Are we truly opening ourselves up to the possibility of greater things for ourselves, the people we love and society as a whole? There are so many options for give ourselves momentary pleasure, such as food, watching a movie, and going shopping. As amazing as technology is and as convenient as it has made life for us, we must asks ourselves if there is a better way to spend our time and utilize the technology we have available to us to add value to the world.

The reality is that not every single person is going to be the next Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, or Steve Jobs. Yet, every single one of us can do something small to brighten someone’s day. Every person can make an effort to at least be considerate and leave someplace better than they found it. Finally every person can explore the difference between simply looking good versus actually being good.