One of the main social proof and influence boosters is credibility. We seek credible opinions from others. Typically, this comes in the form of experts. Experts surround us. They’re quoted in the media. They write books. They record podcasts. They’re interviewed in magazines. They have blogs. Of course, they’re on Social. Experts are ubiquitous. And all of these media forms make them more so.
How do you seem to be everywhere?
One of the great things about celebrity is that it builds upon itself. The more you produce, the more you are seen, the higher your status (supposedly). One of the terrible things about celebrity is that sometimes you do not even have to produce; you merely have to be seen and that status still boosts. Savvy experts can use these celebrity tools & tricks to their advantage through endless promotion. Simply be everywhere your market is. This gives you the aura of everywhere, and pixel tracking tools make this possible as you follow people through the Internet. (That even sounds cool: follow people through the Internet. Who wouldn’t want that?) A part of celebrity’s mystique is to seem to be everywhere, not to actually be everywhere.
What happens when we say, “Don’t pick me?”
Badges of author credibility are shifting. For writers, it used to be I want to be a New York Times’ Bestselling Author. No doubt, this is still a cool badge. It is authoritative. It reeks of credibility. And you are a New York Times’ Bestselling author forever. When people hear it, they know you’ve arrived (Yes, even if you don’t feel like it). Amazon Bestseller status is creeping in on the NY Times’ badge. While the NYT may tell people that theirs is the only one that matters, that’s fast-changing, and a good thing. It is interesting to note that marketing legend Seth Godin doesn’t want attention from the folks at the NYT, so he says “Don’t pick me,” which almost certainly makes them want to pick him. Nothing builds attention like pushing people away.
In his wonderful book Perennial Seller, Ryan Holiday teaches that the best marketing you can do for your recently completed book is to begin working on the next project immediately. Nothing helps to sell past and current work like working on new material. There’s something about the aura of craft that makes people wonder and curious. For what is more remarkable than a prolific craftsman, someone dedicated to creating each day, weekends included? What is more credible than such dedication?
It turns out we want to see how the sausage is made. We seek the behind-the-scenes footage. We want access to the crafting room. For those of us who do not create or do not think we are creative, we want the crafting room to rub off onto us like magic, creative pixie dust. This is why the Tools the Pros use is such an important approval stamp. We want the Tools the Pros use because if we’re using the Tools the Pros use, we might some day soon play like the pros, create like the pros, build credibility like the pros. We’re all subject to this, yes, even the pros. Ask a dedicated MacBook Pro user to use a Dell laptop, and see what happens. Ask a Ford F-150 guy to go test drive a Chevy 2500. Go tell an Evernote user to revert back to Microsoft Word and see what they say. Go tell an expert software engineer who loves the Android platform to use an iPhone and see what he says. Yes, pros have their own, preferred tools. That’s why they are the Tools the Pros use. Duh.
When we start a new endeavor and we’re inexperienced, we’re naive in our capability. We think it won’t be very hard. We think this doesn’t take much dedication. We think we can sing just as well as anyone on American Idol. We can match the bestseller no problem. In a way, this is good. It is good because if we knew how much work it would be, how much dedication this requires, how very difficult the creative slog proves to be, we never would have begun. Our naivety and inexperience in craftsmanship prove helpful at the start.
The thing that hasn’t happened yet, the part that people don’t like to talk about, let alone experience, is the great humbling. Along the journey, someone will tell you your business, and you won’t like what they say. They’ll say you’re not good enough (I’m getting better every day). They’ll say your writing sucks (my writing improves every day). They’ll say they don’t like your face (that, too, improves each day). They’ll give you a 1-Star review on Amazon (still better than no review). They’ll say you’re not talented (it is overrated). They’ll say you don’t have the goods to be successful (what do they know about goods? I’ll show them goods). Our reactions to these slights at our craftsmanship and work ethic are important. Some of these strike at the heart of our character, of what we’re made of. They hurt. The irony about these slights and strikes is that none of them match our critiques of our own work. It isn’t even close. If such a contest existed where you put up a random critic’s critiques vs. that of the creative’s, the creative’s would mop the floor with the critic’s every time. No contest. What do we do despite the critic? What do we do to spite the critic? What do we do to put it in the critic’s face? How much better can we get?