Who Cares What People Write ?

In this day and age of blogs, aggregation sites, personal recommendation sites, link publishing, twitter and more, its not unusual to get a news alert email, or to wake up and google a person, place or thing and find hundreds of references originated in just the past 24 hours. Does it matter ? Could something be published hundreds, if not thousands of times on the net and be read by no one ? Fewer than 100 people ?  Fewer than 100 people that you care about ? The answer is yes.  

When should you care if something is published on the net about you, your company, or someone you care about ? The answer is not often, and only when it comes from a “professional outtie”

Whats an “Outtie” ? An Outtie is someone who publishes on the web.

There are two kinds of “Outties”. Those that attempt to publish in a limited number of locations to a maximum number of readers or listeners, with a reasonable expectation of building a following. They are the professional Outties.  

The 2nd type are the amateur outties. Those that attempt to publish in as many places as possible hoping they are “discovered”.  They publish in the comments section of a newspaper. They produce videos and response videos.  They comment on blogs. They may write a blog. They post comments on  facebook and myspace. They may tweet and  often reply to other people’s tweets.  They may call talk radio stations. They may send anonymous or even signed emails to people they don’t know. They forward emails.  They post comments on aggregation sites like Digg or Hacker News. Some use their writings to brand themselves. Others had behind anonymity and publish in volume to try to amplify a message.  Many engage in “sockpuppetry” and publish anonymously under any number of “handles” on blogs, forums, editorial boards, twitter and email.   Whereever there is a platform, the “Amateur Outties” wills will search it out and  write and speak on it.  Even worse, some will automate the entire thing and escalate the volume to enormous levels.

The “Innies” on the otherhand are passive consumers of web writings.  They are traditional media consumers,where the media, regardless of platform is coming one way to them. They only very rarely respond in public to the information they consume. They read , watch and listen to the Professional Outties. They ignore the amateur outties.

Why does this matter ? Because the Amateur Outties may be  creating  most of the volume for blogs, tweets, recommendation  and news sites on the internet.  

What got me thinking about this was after talking to some people  in the businessworld  that were getting upset about things that were being written about them. They were sending me links to blogs. They sent me a link to something posted on some newspaper sites.  They were sending me cut and pastes of tweets. They were sending me links to comments.  They were upset because in their mind they were under attack and an issue they were addressing had become “a huge media debacle”. 

I tried to explain to them that the “amateur outties” really had no impact on 99.99pct of the population.  That because its on the net, even if a newspaper puts it on their site, doesn’t mean more than 100 people had seen it or cared about what they read.  I had to repeat to them over and over, that even if something is tweeted and retweeted. If its published on 200 blogs. If its on some newspaper sites, it probably has no impact.

How could that be ?  The first step was to click through from tweets to the home pages of the tweeters and show them that most had under 20 followers and then show them that it looked like some of the followers linked back to accounts that looked like they were set up by the same person. In otherwords they were following and retweeting themselves to make it look like they were important. The same held true with blogs.  I would use some different webstats sites to show they werent in the top several hundred thousand websites and to notice that there were zero comments on the blog and no original sites linked to the blog. Then there were the newspaper sites. I couldnt show them the specific amount of traffic for a given article, but I could show the lack of a single comment . That for any articles for which there was probably more than a couple hundred readers , there would be at least a single comment.  If the  “amateur outties”  didnt know or care about your issue, then the innies/the rest of the world, didnt either.

It soon became clear to them that vast majority of what is written on the web goes unread and even that which is read, is quickly forgotten.  That even when something is heavily commented on, it  is usually just an onslaught by the “amateur outties”.  

Fragmentation applies to 100pct of media. We have gotten to the point where it is so easy to publish to the web, that most of it is ignored. When it is not ignored and it garners attention, the attention is usually from those people, the amateur outties, whose only goal is to create volume on the web in hopes of being noticed. 

Thats not to say there are no sites that people consume and pay attention to. There obviously are.  Thats where the “professional outties” come in. They are branded. They have an identity that usually extends beyond the net.  They are able to make a living publishing, even if its not much of one.  They are the sites that people consume and may possibly remember.

The moral of the story is that on the internet, volume is not engagement .  Traffic is not reach.  When you see things written about a person, place or thing you care about,  whether its positive or negative, take a very deep breath before thinking that the story means anything to anyone but you.

51 thoughts on “Who Cares What People Write ?

  1. Mark, haven’t read your blog in a while but loved this post. Don’t 100% agree with all points, but your statement, “Volume is not engagement . Traffic is not reach” is spot on. Thanks for sharing your thought-provoking ideas…

    Comment by candislynn -

  2. To answer the “Who cares what people writes” I think it all boils down to how good the writing is and what is the message sent out.

    I would say that an article does not need to be published to thousands of article directories to be read. Of course, it could not be read in its entirely, but will surely be read at least 10 times guaranteed, because people are curious by nature.

    Comment by MaverickMoneyMakers -

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  6. Mark Cuban says amateurs just spew stuff all over the web in an attempt to be noticed and are mostly ignored. So, it doesn’t matter much what they say because often hardly anyone reads them. http://www.cumleceviri.com/ I actually like the amateur outtie’s better than the “professional Innies.” Outties speak from the heart with no hidden agenda or monetary gain. http://www.angielskopolski.com/ Why does this matter ? Because the Amateur Outties may be creating most of the volume for blogs, tweets, recommendation and news sites on the internet.

    http://www.canliuydu.com/

    Comment by resmitatiller -

  7. Who cares what people write…….just about says it all.

    The Internet has morphed into electronic cesspool. Occasionally you’ll find the equivalent of the engagement ring that got accidentally flushed away, but for the most part the “blogosphere” is filled with the the usual “Richards”.

    Comment by bigjoerice -

  8. […] don’t miss his cheeky new post on his Blog Maverick site–“Who Cares What People Write?”–about ignoring, well, what some “amateur outtie” bloggers say most of the […]

    http://www.kreyzi.com/

    Comment by kreyzi -

  9. Why do people write in what is essentially a vacuum (at least to begin with)? My partial answer in today’s post here: http://criticalnaivete.blogspot.com/

    Comment by criticalnaivete -

  10. Nice nice..

    http://www.otomasyoncu.gen.tr/

    Comment by holyzone -

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  13. Most people do not care what people write. Maybe it is all just useless energy. It could be that people want to get recognition, attention or actually want to help other people and have a small voice in a huge world. 99% of people reading a post won’t give a damn. In one ear out the next. There is so much entertainment in society that people have short recollections. People want that quick gratification.

    I wrote a promise on here that I made to God on April 12. It was well intentioned and I meant it. However 2 months later I failed my promise and as a result of that 1 night of pain and gluttony. I wake up with my non shooting hand Numb since. I know it was a sign from God and hopefully the sensations will come back.

    I Just feel that the amateur’s want to make it to the Pro’s. However the amateurs find out even with good intentions the world is full of cruel intentions. 99% of amateurs will never make it to the Pro’s and 99% of people that read the amateurs it will have no impact on them. That’s what makes it so appealing. Against All Odds. We Shall Overcome.

    WhiteWoody

    I’m gonna miss this place.

    Comment by wildwhitewoody -

  14. Pingback: Mark Cuban: Who cares what people write? |

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  16. Pingback: Who Cares What People Write? « Dave’s Blog

  17. Even though I can make no claim that I speak for everyone who has poured their hearts out into their blogs I must still say this: “I hate you, sir.” Have you never heard of the story wherein a butterfly flaps his wings … ?

    Comment by archdave -

  18. Its all about your outlook on things and the way you approach them. At the end of the day we are all “outties” to an extent, we all have an opinion or feel some type of way about issues and certain individuals. “All news is not good news” words I try to live by. Meaning that there will be good things and bad things said about you, on the Internet and in your life. The net just provides people different ways to cover up talking about people, more towards the negative perspective. All you can do as far as the net is concerned is try to keep things in order and watch your sources and monitor who post things on the web. People are always going to talk about you, and if you are in a better situation than most. EXPECT IT

    Comment by desiredrivedetermination -

  19. Google looks like they’re going to make the “amateur outtie” a lot more powerful with their new Google wave tool.

    http://wave.google.com/

    Cross-platform (blog, SNS, etc.) communication integrated through a central email platform (I only watched 25 minutes of this hour beast).

    Comment by chineseblogmaverick -

  20. If the amateur ‘outtie’ has a good point, and is making an awful lot of sense…. sometimes the professional ‘outtie’ will pick up on what’s being said, investigate, and then report on it themselves.
    In politics, amateur ‘outtie’s have proven their voice matters. Most good stories started with an amateur discovering something, or putting the pieces together.
    Does Mr. Cuban consider himself and amateur or proffessional ‘outtie’?

    Comment by senseichris -

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  22. So, by your own admission, no one is reading your words, and yet, you have commentary, therefore, it would seem that we have a conundrum on our hands….

    Comment by Matches Malone -

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  24. Hey Garth the numbers guy you might actually be on to something 2 9.
    Ok here is a number when I was trading the SPX and it made its collapse a few months ago and went down to 666 exactly and hasn’t looked back. 666>Mark of the beast.

    WW

    Comment by wildwhitewoody -

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  27. Pingback: Who Cares What People Write ? - Corpus Christi Current

  28. Mark,

    I think you could call this the “Snopes Rule”. If the bad pub about you doesn’t make it to a Snopes page, there probably aren’t a lot of people paying attention. A good example of this is the Internet rumor that Swiffer wet pads kill dogs and cats (they don’t). A lesser example might have been that Ford was receiving bailout money last fall. They didn’t. I bet we all saw lots of Ford employees on blogs posting links to the company’s official statement on the bailout money and reminding people that they declined to take it.

    Comment by boscoh -

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  36. I tweeted about loving technology and instantly got 3 new “followers”. It took under 5 seconds. I think pro “outties” get updates from amateur “outties” (which I don’t claim, nor want, to be) through crawlers, etc, for whatever reason (marketing, news, who knows).

    Comment by captshady -

  37. I would also say that the ‘influence metric’ peddled by these self styled brand monitoring companies is for the birds. The idea of measuring ‘mentions’ and horribly inaccurate ‘sentiment’, is nothing more than a pseudo science.

    How these social media monitoring tools and services actually collect a dime proves PT Barnum’s well known postulate.

    Comment by Alan Wilensky -

  38. the fact that the internet has replaced/supplimented interpersonal communications as well as mass publications has blurred lines which previously allowed people to easily separate the two.

    Comment by denverweisel -

  39. The main point of reputation monitoring is to spot trends. A company can have a few negative comments here and there, that’s normal. But if you see different people saying similar things, then maybe there are legitimate issues that need to be addressed. These business people really just need to take a step back so they can see the big picture because that’s what matters.

    Comment by dinzer99 -

  40. The talent is recognizing when a mole hill is just a mole hill and not a mountain. Hindsight is always 20-20, but the dumbest pr mistakes I have made and seen, were trying to address some random blog bs out there. The issue is just not if anyone reads it, it is also what does google think about it? It is not a prob with 10 ppl read a blog. It does get serious when that blog post ends up ranking on the top page of search results for your name, brand, or trademark. Those random blog reading joes can turn into the next major contact, biz deal, or heavy hitting customer you will have some ‘splaining to do. General public reading it = nobody cares. Your cherry leads and contacts reading it = pr issue.

    Comment by btabke -

  41. Who cares what people write?

    I Personally care what you write because I respect your opinion Mr.Cuban. The blog you write is very honest and helps me think outside the box. It isn’t the same ole bunch of crap you see on the net. Your topics come from personal experiences and are exciting and very helpful (motivation). Unlike most blogs out there.

    I actually like the amateur outtie’s better than the “professional Innies.” Outties speak from the heart with no hidden agenda or monetary gain.

    I went to Donald Trumps blog for the first time a couple days ago just to see it. I looked at it for 2 minutes laughed and never went back it was total poppycock.
    I am just a “amateur outtie” so Donald Trump should not get offended by my honesty. His blog was overtrumped by the Maverick Blog IMHO.

    I am just teasing about having “amateur outtie” status. There is not to many places I comment on. Only if what I am reading makes an impact on me and get’s the wheels spinning.

    Mark Farwell
    WW

    Comment by wildwhitewoody -

  42. Especially true these days with the current fashion for the real-time web. What’s the point of corporations monitoring conversations about their brand if the conversations are already done and dusted?

    As a journalist I always believed that others often over reacted to “bad” press. After all, it quickly became yesterday’s fishwrap.

    However, the “eternal” nature of the Internet could spit back up a few unpleasant nuggets during a search at some later time. And there is something to be said about a few bad nuggets tending to outweigh, the good, even if the bad is unfair or inaccurate.

    The real-time web – blink and you missed it:

    http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2009/05/the_realtime_we.php

    Comment by foremski -

  43. It seems like you’re saying that no one pays attention to anything that lives and dies on the internet. Interesting, and while I think that multi-millionaires and billionaires should probably not waste time worrying about blogs and comments, I think that the culture of the internet certainly affects the real world. In varying degrees.

    Personally, I’m more affected by positive comments than negative ones. If someone has a bunch of “haters”, it doesn’t really affect my opinion of an offering. It’s easy to criticize. However, if someone has a lot of positive comments on an offering, I am more likely to engage with it because it takes extra energy to write something positive and the fact that someone has makes me more interested in why they did.

    I will offer that the nature of the internet leads to a certain bombastic tone that quickly turns a conversation into noise and compels people to take dialectic and turn it into propaganda.

    I do get the sense that you don’t like “internet culture” very much. Can you offer why? It’s odd to me, since I identify you with progressive thought and bolder action than your business peers. I would have guessed that the ultimate democracy of the internet would really appeal to you. Interesting that it seems the opposite.

    Cheers,

    BH

    Comment by bryanedwardhill -

  44. Thanks for this, Mark. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately. I’ve come to realize that I had slipped into an AmOuttie mode, albeit with no ill intent. I’ve decided to pare down my online presence to Facebook and Twitter. I haven’t deleted my old Myspace account, but I no longer use it at all as a blogging outlet, and can’t foresee doing so in the future. Your points here are well-made, even as it pertains to those of us not (yet) on the “commented on” side of things.

    Comment by kscottbailey -

  45. Mark
    my only real comment on this is just this senario.
    100 nobodys comment and leave negative responses. according to your comment.. that doesnt matter.

    but in reality it does. it shapes opinion. and shaped opinions = actions.

    here’s a good example for you…
    I have an iphone. apps are rated on iphones.. do i buy an app that is listed??? hmm i dont know what do the reviews say (reviewers rank the apps that are on iphone).. the reality in this case is the Nobodys pretty much tell me if i should download the app or not. regardless of the price.
    Are they professionals? no… they dont work for CNN.. or CNet.. or anything.. they are just normal users. do they make an impact? heck yes.

    Comment by savednoteguy -

  46. I GUESS THE REAL QUESTION IS WHY DO YOU CARE SO MUCH , AND THE ANSWER IS BECAUSE EVERYBODY WANT TO BE HEARD. EVERY EGO NEEDS A STAGE ONCE IN A WHILE.
    IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHY PEOPLE ARE THE WAY THE ARE , I SUGGEST YOU STUDY THE ONE UNIVERSAL CODE , NUMBERS. NUMEROLOGY IS THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE UNKNOWN.

    Numerology Behind The economic collapse of the world
    I am a firm believer that if people don’t know there history , they are doomed to repeat it. The only difference between with me is I look at past dates as a numerologist too.
    Most histories say the Great Depression started 10-29-1929. You might look at that date as just another date , not me. If you look at that date closely you will notice it happened on the 29th and the year was also 1929, meaning there is a patter their with the 9 following the 2 to make 29. Well this might not mean much to 99.9% of people looking at this , but to me it explains why the whole World is falling into a new great depression. You see
    when ever you see too many 29’s in a date ( specifically when you see a 29 in the year ) , it can only mean one thing , people and there money will part.
    Now lets look at that date one more 10-29-1929 , the last two numbers in that year are a 29. Now the year is 2009 , this is the first time in 80 Years that the 9 have followed the 2 in the year since the great Depression. Funny how the same thing is happening in 2009 , that happened in 1929. Remember , Numbers are the only thing that never lie.

    Comment by garythenumbersguy -

  47. Hi Mark – Just started following your blog, good stuff.

    Google can do amazing things to prove you and this post wrong. Google scrapes nearly all blogs and twitter feeds, and even an “Amateur Outtie” can get high up on the Google rankings without even trying.

    Put out a few bad products, pull a few deceptive customer service / marketing maneuvers, and there will be a swarm of bad press from the amateurs. Maybe this won’t kill you, but if it’s bad enough to get spotted by Consumerist or AwfulMarketing.com then you’re going to see your product’s page rankings start to get nailed with a bunch of bad reviews and publicity.

    For instance, go google for “Home Depot Patio Furniture Review”. Very close to the top, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Does this look like a professional blog? No, it’s not – but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be buying that patio furniture now! That’s just a quick example I whipped up, there’s probably much better ones out there.

    This is why companies DO need to keep an eye on the amateurs and overall “chatter” – it is now part of your branding strategy to ensure that you don’t get on the wrong side of the mavens of the world.

    Comment by microberto -

  48. Mark,

    I think you’re right, with one caveat. I think the problem is that the mindset of the businesspeople that were showing their concern to you is now becoming more common. In other words, there are more and more people that think what they read from the amateur outties matters, and more than that, there are fewer and fewer people that can decipher who’s a pro and who’s an amateur. After all, I’m assuming the people that were getting upset were likely smart business people (again, assuming). As more people show their concerns over what the amateur outties write, it puts them in the limelight and they become what most people think is a real and even important news source. It wasn’t too long ago that Perez Hilton would have been considered irrelevent, and maybe he still is. But he now gets referenced by mainstream media and can have a major impact because more and more people started beleiving that he mattered and what he writes about is newsworth. Maybe not the best example, but I think it’s starting to get more blurred.

    Comment by dynamicsportsblog -

  49. Pingback: Does anyone care what you write, or where you write it? | Michael Gracie

  50. I suggest a third category: The ProAm Outtie. It’s a bit of a misnomer, but bear with me.

    Those that attempt to make money (hence, Pro) by either:

    a) Generating “exposure” (clickthroughs, pageviews, etc.) for others using the aforementioned AmOuttie tactics

    -or-

    b) Generating “exposure” for themselves (usually MLMer scum, adwords profiteers, and their ilk), often by instructing others how to do the same–classic MLM

    In short: ProAm Outties are those that use AmOuttie tactics for proffessional (read: monetary) gain.

    By “discovered”, do you mean noticed by someone that can disseminate it more effectively?

    Just the other day, I had to decide how to deal with a AmOuttie that was disparaging my company in the comments section of our blog in a private niche website. Out of 50+ comments, hers was the only negative one AND the only one that mentioned my company (the blog never directly plugs our products). I’ve seen our competitors respond to every little negative peep on the web, and often they come from execs or they’re ghostwritten for execs. While this may be effective at allaying the criticisms of that particular malcontent, as a general rule, it seems like a waste of time. I offered no response to her ridiculous rant and the positive comments kept coming in. It seems like I made the right decision. Thanks for the post.

    Comment by naughtygeneration -

  51. My mother used to say: “Do you believe EVERYTHING you read in the newspaper?!”

    There is a temporal scheme to this innie/outie business. Some innies turn into outies — in fact, tweeting and blogging is a social activity, and like all social activities people tend to get sucked into them over time. On the other hand, some outies eventually get bored or tired of being ignored and move on to other causes or hobbies. Being able to spot a new outie that will be around for the long haul is probably a useful skill.

    Years ago quite a few internet message boards were completely anonymous. My wife used to ask me, “How can you know whether anything that somebody writes is true when they’re anonymous?” The answer to that is the flipside of my mother’s advice. After you read somebody for a while, you can figure out a few things about their credibility even without knowing who they are. The Federalist Papers were widely read and persuasive during ratification debates and to many their authors were unknown.

    Comment by Michael F. Martin -

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