Four options to transcend the social media clutter. Pick one and do the work.

My friend left a thought-provoking comment on my blog the other day. I had written about the necessity to provide quality content over time as the only sustainable strategy to rise above the social media clutter.

She challenged me, contending that there are marketing gurus out there over-posting tons of useless AI-generated crap every day, and they seem to be rewarded for it. How can this be explained?

A good question, and here is my answer.

The four ways to stand out

First, let’s step back and look at the four ways you can transcend the social media clutter and get noticed in this world:

1. SEO

Traditionally, most of the content marketing strategy aims at winning at Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but earning your way to a place in the top three search results requires a relentless, brutal battle of attrition. The SEO competition is like a bunch of nasty dogs fighting over the same keyword bone and if you aren’t one of those dogs, there is little hope to win.

One note: An SEO strategy still depends on quality content.

2. Authority

A better option for many businesses is to establish authority. You more or less abandon the SEO fight and establish a relevant audience. Instead of writing for SEO, you become known by creating content for the benefit of your audience. You earn their attention through stellar insights and helpful, authentic, human-centered content. This is not necessarily an easier battle to fight. Competition demands that you remain consistent, relevant, and superior to win.

3. Entertaining

There are a few “social media influencers” I enjoy following simply because they are just so funny and interesting. They’re not building authority, they could care less about SEO … they’re endlessly entertaining. A person certainly can earn attention in this world by creating amazing content that makes you sit there and laugh or go “wow.”

This is especially true on TikTok where there is incredible pressure to be entertaining every day!

4. Fame

If you’re a politician, supermodel, or celebrity, you don’t have to create SEO-friendly or authoritative content. You don’t even have to entertain. You just have to post pictures of yourself now and then to earn an audience.

There are two ways to become famous — The old-fashioned way by being a movie star, best-selling author, or elite athlete, and the new media way that involves a combination of content, reach, and social proof. This is where it gets interesting, and this is the category that is causing Amanda’s concern.

Fake fame

I suppose there is a fifth category, but it is unsustainable — lie about everything.

I once had a friend who was a list-worthy social media superstar. Years ago, he confided in me that his fame was entirely manufactured. He had bought his followers, had other people creating his content, faked his accomplishments — he had even written his own reviews. He is no longer in the business because the pressure of maintaining this fake front became unbearable. In fact he had a mental breakdown.

But many people still do it.  The New York Times published an explosive piece showing how many influencers had faked their way to fame. Some have demonstrated that you can create entirely fake personas that can earn the attention of brands. Several social media gurus have faked Twitter accounts that would complement them around the web.

When I entered this space 10 years ago, I marveled at this manufactured authority. How did these folks maintain an audience without really producing anything of value? My theory is there is a constant churn of new people who see them as authorities because they are on influencer lists and 2) even people who have figured them out still follow them because they’re afraid not to.

Staying centered amid the social media clutter

The truth is, these folks are outliers, and we need to ignore their example. Maybe they will continue to skirt detection, maybe not. But any business practice based on deception is not sustainable in the long run.

It’s hard to keep focused on the hard work of being consistent, relevant, and superior in your niche, but there really is no shortcut. Whether you choose to win at SEO, authority, entertainment, or fame, you have to do the work.

I want to offer some encouragement to all of those working so hard but feeling some how diminished by the fakes who have manufactured their web presence.

There’s no way you can fake it and earn true fans. The fakers may be surrounded by purchased followers and sycophants, but they don’t have true fans who will help them accomplish their goals.

When you earn true fans, your “marketing” can stop because you’ll have other people telling your story, sharing your content, and recommending you for business opportunities. That is the goal, that is the gold. In the long run, it will pay off.

Stay centered, stay positive, do the work.

Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak at your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram.

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