Choose Your Own Adventure

Susan Murphy wrote a post a couple of months ago called Choose Your Own Adventure. The post played off the children’s book series to discuss how social media really provides people the opportunity to opt-in or out of any particular group or conversation. But really social offers a larger Choose Your Own Adventure principle, which is break rules when you see fit and reap the benefits or the consequences.

Social media winners, at least during the pioneer stage, represent a group of entrepreneurial spirits who went out and broke away from established business norms to create their own voices. People like Arianna Huffington and Jack Dorsey.

D.J. Waldow and Jason Falls talk about breaking marketing best practice rules in their book The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing.

We live in a time when pundits dictate the way it should be, where best practices dominate conversations. From a business standpoint, the only rudder should be customers and a brand’s larger community.

Serving customers, building loyalty, communicating well with customers (regardless of channel) is about understanding what motivates them. Apple, while currently in a down period, built a masterful brand by not offering a direct voice in social media. This was in spite of pundits ranting that brands must have social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc., etc.

There are no rules.

Brands are maintained by companies, but carried forth by people. People and word of mouth extend well beyond social media. In the end, brands should choose to serve customers with a wow type of outreach versus breaking a best practice.

People consider me to be a consistent blogger and author in the space, but one of the best lessons I got was from another author, David Meerman Scott. David told me he didn’t read other marketing voices because he didn’t want his thinking to become clouded.

I don’t go as far as David and still read a few marketing and PR voices, but generally, I don’t listen to their commandments about social media anymore. So when I have been criticized for not maintaining a Facebook page, auto tweeting and unfollowing negative voices, I keep doing the same things. Because I don’t really give a damn.

It’s my adventure, and my decision how to serve readers with the understanding that I win or lose based on those actions. I serve based on what works with the people I am trying to cultivate. And sometimes I make shifts to attract different readers or move to a new value offering even though the social media establishment doesn’t understand.


As to the unfollowing whining that caused Susan’s post and is a sub-theme in mine, sometimes unsubscribing from people is the best thing you can do. It sets a clear boundary, and lets the other person know you’re not investing in the relationship anymore.

It’s ironic that the media celebrated Kobe Bryant unfollowing Dwight Howard this weekend for his move to Houston, but social media experts can’t deal with similar moments. It may be hard to come to terms with the fact that their voice may not be welcome after a spout of disagreements. Instead they whine that X is shutting out the entire spectrum of voices. Just move on. Or if it bugs you that badly, look in the mirror and find out why.

Follow your customer rudder and choose your own marketing adventure. If it happens to include a social media best practice, even better.

What say you?

An earlier version of this post ran on the Vocus blog. Featured image by Lenna Young Andrews.


  • Thanks my friend for the shout out!

    It’s funny, I was just thinking of doing a follow-on to that post this morning, in light of a lot of complaining I’ve seen lately about social media and how it’s devolved into one big pitch and marketing fest and lost its true value.

    Social media has not lost its value, and I echo your sentiments here. The rules are, there are no rules. If you don’t like what you see, follow some different people and change your experience.

    And for Pete’s sake, people need to stop taking it so personally when they get unfollowed! :)

    • It’s funny, I had a similar response. I was holding this in my personal blog as a reserve post, and then saw a need for it with some recent events and complaining online. People forget that much of social is opt in.

      As to the unfollowed, usually there are two reasons for that complain; real hurt that a relationship may be ending or is damaged, and the aforementioned negative types who do their thing, reap the reward, then complain about it. In both cases, it’s not a real complaint to me about the unfollowing, rather the boundary that someone put down.

      Thanks for initating this post, not once, but twice now!

  • I’m with you on the “Frankly Scarlet” sentiment about what others dictate, sermonize about and say about what we “should” do online. Great timely post. Cheers! Kaarina

    • I have to say, it gets to be a bit much, and you start to feel like you are dealing with the heathers or something. Ack! Thanks for the comment!

  • I’m not sure when “likes” and “follows” turned into a popularity contest. So what if Kobe quit following Howard. If Twitter didn’t exist, we wouldn’t know that Kobe quit calling him so often. And, why does it matter? Kobe should be practicing and playing, not worrying about his Twitter account. That goes for a lot of celebrities, IMHO. All they do is slam each other, and that adds to the division of people that is happening across the world. Why do we care if Lady GaGa changed her image to the Twitter egg? I’d rather go back to discussing real topics of interest and importance, and helping others (such as the SMAC monkeys and Liz Strauss). I know we can’t go back to the way it was, but we can move forward in making it right again. Cheers and thanks for listening to the mini-rant!

    • It’s all a distraction from doing better things. If we want better things, then we need to start by moving ourselves one foot after the other. But just because some want to go one way or think their way is The Way doesn’t mean the rest of us have to agree with it, or give it credence. As you say, each of us can make it right if we want to.

  • I love it Geoff! I love it because it’s refreshing, individual and yet something that those of us who prefer to almost always take the road less traveled can nod in agreement from beginning to end! Thank you for giving me a wide-open feeling again!

    • As the bard said, To thine own self be true. We always feel better. Thanks for the great comment, Linda!

  • If Kobe wouldn’t have made Howard’s life hell in LA, he might still be there…although I’m always looking forward to Kobe to end up on the short end of things. ;) Pretty petty that he did the unfollow, and that the media celebrated it.


    Other than that comment, I like your style Geoff. I take the time to consistently comment on 3-4 blogging communities…and you are one of them because you are candid, insightful, and unapologetic. I get and appreciate that approach!

    • I agree, Kobe is Kobe. Older, and less obnoxious, but still the same guy that pissed the hell out of the other A Listers he played withfor, Shaq and Phil. And it’s the NBA, I expect nothing less than Twitter drama on the country’s most followed sport (social media wise). LOL.

      And thank you for the comment, you are very kind. I appreciate you a lot, Brian, and am honored to have you here. If I go out and get advice on what to do witht his mess, you’d be one of the first guys I’d talk to.

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