The New Media Puzzle-The Impact Equation

Delivering interesting information to people who care about it is harder than ever. Chris Guillebeau

I really bet you wanted me to say easier. The tech is easier and easier. I can create stuff on my iPhone (or Android) that wasn’t even vaguely possible even as recently as 2007. And yet, as this technology grows, our consumption has shifted. I’ve seen huge changes in how people interact. I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience, so that you might glean what you will from it.

We were told social networks are everything. But then most of us got there and they maybe “worked” for a little while and then stopped. We were told to get publishing on YouTube. And though I still highly recommend this, not many people are saying, “Wow! I’m getting a lot from what I do there.” (Some are.)

What I think comes next is figuring out a delicate balance of media making and in that, you’ll find some recipes for impact. I’ll share a bit of my own recipe, if that’s okay.

The Human Business Works Approach to New Media At Present

  • Blog 1x a week. (Rarely twice.) – This is down from 1x/day.
  • Tweet/post social 4x a day for business – This is hard to measure a change, but I know that response to my social efforts is lowering as my subscriber count is raising.
  • Provide high quality content in a free private newsletter on Sunday (in my case). Sunday was a day I picked because of the personal nature of my newsletters and because I wanted to set a very specific vibe. So far, this is amounting in huge weekly double-digit growth of subscriber percentage growth, plus bigger and bigger open rates.
  • Provide useful audio podcast for people who want to consume on the go.
  • Write helpful books for the offline places and for folks to read on planes.

What’s changed from earlier? (Almost)Everything.

  • I started 2012 saying video, video, video. While I agree, I’m just not seeing the ROI unless you’re really committed to going deep. Video has moved from meal to appetizer for me.
  • I started 2012 still blogging daily (a years-long experience). It used to really amp up subscriptions. Not as much.
  • I used to count on Twitter and Google+ for more business via my OUTPUT. As I’ve been advocating for years, listening is far more valuable. My click rates are low on useful content.
  • I didn’t have a podcast at the start of 2012. Though there’s work in making it, the value/reward is huge. I’m getting 100% growth and more, month over month (easy when you start at zero). And that’s driving even more adoption and relationship-building.

What You Can Take From This

It’s up to you to work up the recipe you need for your type of business, but I’ll tell you what I know:

  • The shiny part of everyone clicking any old thing on the social web feels over.
  • Great content rules, as it always has and should.
  • What defines “great,” however, has changed (brevity, simplicity, eat-on-the-go, cross-platform, and more).
  • Attention is a wily beast and you’ll have to work on contrast and standing out from the crowd.
  • For my biggest lesson learned, sign up to my Sunday newsletter (It’s free!)

But the puzzle is fun to figure out. I’ll grant you that. That’s why Julien Smith and I bothered to write The Impact Equation in the first place. Right? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • JosephRatliff

    The “shiny object” of social media is finally wearing off… it has finally been reduced to the set of tools that it always was.

    (not the magic bullet some claimed it to be)

    Your book hit it on the head Chris… The Impact Equation. The important questions I think we need to be asking going forward are:

    1. What demonstrable (or verifiable) impact are our ideas having on other people in our communities?

    2. What tools are we going to use to help that process along?

    This truly is the “new media puzzle”.

    • Chris Brogan

      Glad you see it that way, Joseph. I only have about 500 million more people to convince. Ready? Go!

  • Matt Churchill

    I’ve found myself blogging a lot less, indeed I used to blog daily, but found that I would connect with people on Twitter a lot quicker and the interactions would be genuinely thought provoking. The insight about quality and attention is key, it’s those content creators who demonstrate most value that will be rewarded most.

    • Chris Brogan

      Connecting is great, but it’s what impact comes from it that I’m interested in understanding more deeply.

  • wyatt christman

    The move to less blogging and longer posts, a solid newsletter, and books seems to be part of a growing wave. The surprising part is podcasting. I haven’t yet read to many others saying podcasting gives as much as you have said here. I am glad it does because you have some great people on the show.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Wyatt. I’m totally surprised at how FAST podcasting is growing and how deep. Because Ford cut a deal with Stitcher for in-car entertainment, I’m paying even more attention than ever.

      • wyatt christman

        I keep coming back to something Johnny B Truant said in one of his blog posts, that setup takes a lot but after that there is much less time needed for ongoing creation. He was applying that to the many endeavors he does, like you he seems to have a ton of projects. Each year brings down the barrier of entry into content creation for example via apps or cost of technology. It is great to hear people like you and Mitch Joel have a podcast for the joy of connecting to other people (I imagine a similar motivation with your podcasts) rather than just for the purpose of content marketing (at least that is what Mitch has implied).

  • Jeff Korhan

    Can sum this up with these words (cut and paste):

    What defines “great,” however, has changed (brevity, simplicity, eat-on-the-go, cross-platform, and more).

    Moving in that same direction myself for many of the same reasons, including noticing your practices, and also being aware of the influences of Panda, Penguin, and other assorted “animals.”

    Love the newsletter. It’s giving me ideas to take mine from monthly to weekly. I didn’t agree at first, but now I see that a newsletter can be much more than “news.”

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, sir. I’m always happy to have allies. : )

  • Daniel Decker

    I think your last point has held truest for me too… email newsletters are still one of the most effective forms of engagement and community building their is (online). Some were quick to say email would be dead soon but it never died, it just quietly kept doing it’s thing while some got lost in the bright lights of social media. It’s not an either or, it’s a both/and for me. From an ROI and ability to move people to an action perspective though, email wins hands down. Social worked more when there was less noise but now the noise drowns a lot out. Email sits waiting to be opened at a time when someone is ready vs a Tweet or a FB post that flies by and quickly falls deep into the feed.

    • Chris Brogan

      People who keep telling me things are dead aren’t looking for life.

    • Mike Cleveland

      How can something be dead when there is some much activity. A survey was done show that 77% people surveyed want to get “permission-base-marketing messages through email.

      Email is the cord that ties all other platforms together.

  • tom@morethanpepper

    am getting more readers following the blog once or twice week number

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Hi Chris, this is
    so true. Generally managing email, reading blog posts, participating in social
    media and consuming content in various forms – can be done, sometimes much more
    conveniently, using a mobile or tablet device. The human business work approach
    to the new media is great points. Thanks for the share.

  • The Franchise King

    Nice wrap-up, Chris.

    I’m starting to see and feel some changes in all things media.

    You’re right about videos; go all in or don’t expect all that much.

    Blogs- I’m going to do less post volume-but do more epic type content.

    And, I’ll focus my SM efforts on Twitter-because it works best for me, and start to use Google+ more. And more.

    And…@FranchiseDog #2 should be running around like an idiot (puppy) in The Franchise Kingdom at the end of this month.

    Remember? That’s how I got YOUR attention on Twitter, almost 4 years ago, now.


    • Chris Brogan

      Funny that, eh your highness?

      • The Franchise King

        Funny and good, Chris.

        Glad that we met :)



    Great article Chris. It’s interesting to see how things are changing.

    What about SMBs? Is it better for them to blog more than 1x/week? If HubSpot’s stats hold true, sites need to have 400+ pages before they reach any sort of significance in the search engines’ eyes. This would mean that more posts per week would help them achieve that status quicker.

    Also, at what point do SMBs stop listening and start engaging in conversation using social media?

    • Chris Brogan

      SMBs can definitely do a lot more with content marketing. They just don’t always know where to get in. And remember: not everyone wants to read a blog post from the local coffee shop. The 400 pages rule is kind of a mechanics and algorithm mindset. My coffee/ice cream/ soup place shows me the soups of the day in a jpg on FB and I show up.

  • Jack Lynady

    Good stuff Chris.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Jack. : )

  • Dave Crenshaw

    Interesting article, Chris. Thanks for sharing us your ideas.

  • Dan Erickson

    Thanks for your insights. Useful information.

  • David Siteman Garland

    I think it really comes down to what you are comfortable with and enjoying…because then, not surprisingly, we will put more effort into those things. For example, it sounds like video didn’t feel right to you, but podcasting did. Now, your efforts have gone there and you are dominating with it. SWEET!

    I can also say, for others, it is has been the opposite (meaning, put full effort into the videos, etc.)

    • Chris Brogan

      I can see that and agree with it.

  • dianebrogan

    The good thing about a podcast, it doesn’t put any strain on the eyes.

    • Chris Brogan

      True that. : )

    • Chris Brogan

      Agreed, mom. : )

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  • Ion Doaga

    Changes always happen and filters who stay and create successful businesses. I’m not yet successful, but I can say that this changes are painful for me as was creating without passion.

    Posting on Facebook and writting post and doing some SEO is not enough. It took me a while to understand that.

    It is really a puzzle. It’s too complex these days.

    • Chris Brogan

      SEO, to me (and just to mee…. relax humans), is too tricky a battle to stay up on. I don’t even try. But that’s me. And I have a tight niche: being me.

  • Callie Durbrow

    Great post Chris, thanks for the insights, especially about blogging frequency. Interesting.

    • Chris Brogan

      Happy it resonated.

  • Robert Cordes

    This is a great blueprint for a realistic approach to managing your new media chores.

  • Kenneth Vogt

    People keeping hoping for a way around that one hard, time consuming bit of truth: great content matters. I have a prediction: this is never going to change. No technology or social trend or flavor-of-the-day is going to make people long for stupid, vacuous content.

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  • Austin

    Thanks for sharing your own recipe journey over the past year.

    It helps to know what other people have done and are doing now, and how the two have differed over time.

    Time to get back to it…

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