Moving on to the Next Thing

Photo by B.J. Mendelson on New York City's UES

If you count March 2016 to March 2017 as one year, I’ve had the roughest year of my life personally and professionally. So much so that I think I went and undid any and all progress I made since my book came out in 2012.

Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

So, I’ve decided to do something different. I’m shutting down work on “The Internet is Magic.”

I can’t seem to crack it as a book. I don’t feel I’m the appropriate person to write a self-help book given where my life and career is right now (the toilet) and that I’m in therapy and getting my OCD treated.

The second part of the book, which acts as an updated version of “Social Media Is Bullshit” could be great, but there’s not enough in there for it to be a book on its own. A series of excellent articles, for sure, but not a book.

Besides, I can sum up that second half of the proposed book like this:

-I told you so.

-“Content Shock” and “Peak TV” are not a thing because most content sucks.

-Everything I said from the last book still holds. Just swap out some of the names of those old platforms with names of current platforms and it’s still the same deal. (See: Snapchat’s most recent IPO, Facebook flat out lying about video views, and the increasing number of news stories about bots generating fake traffic.)

-Most marketing people are clowns that shouldn’t be trusted. You can tell who isn’t a clown based on what they read and who they quote.

-Barring a revolution in the advertising, marketing and media industries, nothing I say matters because we’ll just jump from one hot mess to another. See Chatbots and AI right now. Nobody knows anything, everyone with a financial interest is going to exaggerate, the tech people are (mostly) assholes taking advantage of media, marketing, and advertising people who have developed tunnel vision to ensure job security. The bullshit cycle will continue in perpetuum.

(That’s fancy asshole speak for “forever.”)

That brings us to the third, and final, part of the proposed book, the advice.

There’s certainly a framework I can present to you that can increase the probability of your success. Note the key word here: probability. There is NO guarantee of success when it comes to this stuff. Every situation is entirely subjective, and there are variables that you may have to deal with that someone else won’t.

For example, if you’re an afro-Peruvian jazz band, how you’re going to promote yourself is going to be different from a rapper or a rock band. You have different audiences with different expectations and different tastes, and even though you’re all musicians, the tactics the jazz band is going to use are going to be distinct from the rapper and the rock band.

And that’s just within the music industry!

Are there some things you can all do that might work? Maybe. Facebook ads do work, they’re just expensive and become ineffective the longer you run them. SEO is something everyone can do, but most SEO today is just good PR. And social is driven by offline word-of-mouth and what the media is talking about (usually), which means that it too is an extension of PR.

That means you have a PR book on your hands. That’s not quite something publishers want. At least, I don’t think. And it’s also not something I want to write. If you want to be good at PR, all you have to do is read books by Edward Bernays and know how not to bother a reporter. (In other words, pitch the reporter by email, wait a week, follow-up once, and then never bother them again if you don’t hear back. And when possible, always see if someone can introduce you to the reporter instead of pitching them cold.)

Good news: Edward Bernays has been dead for a long time so that you can find his books out there at the library for free.

Bad news: Nobody wants probability. Everyone wants solutions. And that’s not their fault; it’s the fault of decision makers chasing bogus metrics to justify their existence and tech companies justifying the billions of dollars they’ve raised.

The question you should be asking is not, “How do we hit our traffic goals?” The question is, “how do I deliver legit, high quality, repeat traffic to my advertisers and build a relationship between us as content providers, the sponsor as the people who keep our lights on, and the audience as the people we serve where everyone is happy.”

Hint: Auto-playing videos, ads that invade and abuse a users’ privacy without their permission, full-page takeovers, and other units that make browsing the web (regardless of browser or device) a horror show are not the answer.

“Less, but better” traffic is a hard sell. I haven’t encountered many people in the corporate world that want to hear that.

So given all that, I’m throwing in the towel on the book front. When I have something interesting to say that can justify an entire book, I’ll let you know.

Until then, I’m going to post everything that would have gone in “The Internet is Magic” here.

If you have not read my first book, don’t worry. Just email me at bj@bjmendelson.com, and I’ll hook you up with a free .pdf of it. The only thing I ask is that if you like it, feel free to pass on and share the .pdf with anyone you want.

I know this will be disappointing news for like the three people who care about what I write, but I think it’s the right choice.

You don’t get rewarded for being right. Instead, you get to spend years after saying something that was right watching people attack you, and then those people completely flip their positions and repeat what you had to say on their own as if you didn’t exist. And then when the industry does catch up and absorbs the ideas you’ve put out there into their system, it doesn’t correct itself. It just keeps plowing ahead while everyone winks and nods and goes, “Yeah I know it’s all bullshit, but our boss loves it, so what are you going to do?”

The answer is that you move on to the next thing.

That is not the only change I’m going to be making given the past year I’ve had, but it’s the only one I’m ready to talk about at the moment. I’ll have more news eventually.