About two years ago, maybe a little longer, I was talking to you about writing a sequel to “Social Media is Bullshit.” Then, not long after I started that process, I wound up ghostwriting a book that dealt with similar themes. (As Forest Gump once said, “And that’s all I have to say about that.” Since, you know, talking about something you ghost wrote defeats the purpose of ghostwriting for somebody.)
I have a few people now who want me to ghostwrite books for them, but that’s not exactly the career I envisioned at this point in my life. I’ve always had two tracks going in my head.
Track A: World’s greatest stay at home Dad.
Track B: Selfishly, and not to sound like your typical egotistical male author, the career I wanted was filled with lots of media coverage, dating beautiful women, and having enough money where I would just write and not be bothered by anything else.
I can easily do Track A doing the ghostwriting thing, but not Track B.
Until recently, I was all set with Track A. Track A was awesome, but then …
Last week, I removed myself from a multibillion-dollar project. I don’t want to get into why just yet, but for our purposes now, I walked away from A LOT of money.
If I were still going out with the girl I was dating in September, I would have stayed with that project. Track A, you know? My mindset was, “If she’s in, I’m in. Let’s have children. I can be the world’s most awesome Dad, and if I need to deal with the issues that come along with this project, I’ll do it for her.” But she said she wasn’t in. Bummer, for sure, but on the plus side, the reason to deal with those issues associated with this project were now gone.
I was happy to go with Track A because the challenge I’ve had with writing another marketing book is the question of “why bother?” What more is there to say?” For you, I wrote just the one book, but this new one would actually be my third. That’s years worth of research and writing about this stuff going back to 2009.
But given that I’m now in a situation where I’m looking at a blank slate, it’s given me a lot of time to think about Track B. And thanks to the project I walked away from, I realize there’s still plenty left to say.
The List of Jericho
I’ve been keeping a list in my head since “Social Media Is Bullshit” came out. It’s all stuff that I wish I could have included but didn’t, either because I wasn’t aware of it at the time or because it got cut by editors:
1. I want to get into more detail of how the media tends to interact with this stuff because in doing so, you have a way better understanding of why things explode the way that they do, and you’ll see little of it has to do with “the power of social media.” (This is especially true every time you see some story about influencers or “rising stars on X social media platform.” You never hear about the PR firm or the agency pushing those “rising stars” and the amount of money spent offline to drive that online “influence,” what of it that there is.)
2. I want to talk a bit more about algorithms and some of the other black hat stuff out there. Not in a ton of detail, you can lose people when you talk about anything too technical, but part of showing people the Internet (and Social Media) isn’t magic has to include some coverage of this. Because the second you learn that Facebook has a system that can be gamed, and even to this day, continues to be gamed, you realize that it’s just a channel like anything else. The Fake News thing is only the most recent example in a long history of Facebook’s system getting gamed.
3. I do want to give the devil its due. Three things should have been said in “Social Media is Bullshit” in a bit more detail:
-Social media can be useful regarding giving a voice to communities and people who traditionally have not had one. What’s going on with Standing Rock is a good example of this. (Ditto: What is true in Western Cultures is NOT true in Eastern cultures in terms of their use of social media.)
-Social media can be good when used appropriately with a strategy and a lot of money (because it is a paid advertising channel).
-And sometimes, your boss doesn’t give you a choice. You MUST use social media, not because it’s great or will serve your needs, but because you have NO choice. People at P&G were the first ones to tell me about that last one in 2012, but I’ve encountered it again and again ever since.
4. I want to talk about goal setting, putting a proper plan in place (and having an excellent Plan B), and using data to make better decisions without letting the data ruin you. Even today, there are LARGE companies with huge national presences and a lot of money to spend that have no idea what the fuck they’re doing. That’s terrifying because (as I said in the first book), what the large enterprises do, the small businesses follow, and that’s not acceptable. However, what I did NOT do in the first book that I should have, is presented people with a plan. That is what I heard the most from this first book. “OK smart ass, I get that its bullshit. So, what do I do?”
5. I want to have a section just on the presidential election of ‘08, ‘12, and ‘16. There has been so much bullshit surrounding all three campaigns about data and social media, and I don’t want to go into 2020s presidential election without feeling like I did my part to explain why stuff like “Trump won with Facebook quizzes” is nothing but hot garbage.
6. I want to talk about people and why they do what they do. Why they share the things they share and how to increase the probability of success (something else that I’ll cover) regarding any of your future projects. I’ve been a word-of-mouth Marketing guy since 1998, and while other books have tackled this, a lot of it is done with the same kind of bullshit you see in the social media and digital marketing space. So being able to talk about this, even if it’s just a chapter, I think is incredibly useful.
7. And then, close the book talking about what I think the larger trends are (Peak Internet and people going offline).
Will There Be A Sequel To “Social Media Is Bullshit”?
I know, with other authors, they’re constantly churning out books. I’m going to tell you straight up; I can’t do that. It took me three years to do “Social Media is Bullshit” (2009, 2010, 2011), and it took me three years to do the ghostwritten book (2014, 2015, 2016).
That’s just the sheer scale of research that goes into these things. I still have a crate in my parent’s garage right now with all the books used in the ghostwritten book, and in addition to those 60 books, there was another 30 on my Kindle in addition to scholarly, original research I did using university archives and conducting interviews. It’s a lot.
If we’re realistic, if I started RIGHT NOW on “The Internet is Magic” / “People Are Assholes” / “Peak Internet” / “How To Be Internet Famous” / Whatever the sequel is called, you ain’t seeing it until 2020. MAYBE 2019 if I self-publish the thing, but not until 2020 if it’s put out by St. Martin’s or whomever.
So yes, because I’m back on Track B, there will be a sequel. It will cover everything I mentioned above, and it’ll probably be out in 2020.
I’m also going to be fully transparent in this whole process. That’s something I couldn’t do with the ghost writing, and it’s something I didn’t think to do with “Social Media is Bullshit.” As I work on this thing, I’ll post everything on this website. So in addition to possibly running for Congress and blogging about depression in the tech industry (and managing my own) you can look forward to that in the not too distant future.
The funny business book reviews are getting their own website along with my new agency. Speaking of … There is a way I can do the book much, much faster. It requires the support of a larger advertising agency. That’s a discussion that was had in 2014, and given what’s going on with my company right now, that’s a discussion that may pick up steam again in January.
If anything happens there, I’ll let you know. Actually, if anything happens concerning the sequel, I’ll post about it right here.
(Photo Credit: B.J. Mendelson, from the second floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.)