I tried to put that line into a presentation on “digital innovation” for a late-blooming client (a behemoth of traditional marketing). The account team vetoed it – too many suits in the room, I think.
But I consider “nobody cares about you” to be the most important point of the whole presentation. It’s what marks the difference between the way things used to be and the way things are now.
See, traditional media is built from the bottom up to support business objectives. TV exists to sell ads. For a long time, the only way for Americans to spend their intellectual surplus (as Clay Shirky would say) was to watch sitcoms:
For 50-years Americans were on a sitcom bender, an unparalleled period of post-war prosperity and no idea what the hell to do.
And in our zombie-like state, we sat as the captive audience for companies who wanted to increase “awareness” of their brands. Why increase awareness? So we would be subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) influenced to buy the next time we were at the store.
It didn’t matter if you cared about those companies or not. If you wanted to watch your sitcoms, you better be ready for some hardcore product-on-product action.
Not so with the internet. The internet wasn’t built for businesses, it was built to share information, first for the military and later for academics. Business has grown out of this original purpose, but it wasn’t the intention.
I think of the origins of the web as somewhat of a quasi-socialistic, intellectual, hippy experiment. I know the internet’s origins are in the American military, and the web’s origins are European, but I equate so much of what the modern digital world is to the things that came out of UC Berkeley; from the Free Software Movement to Apple Computers (not to mention everything from BSD to BIND).
The web is not a passive medium. It’s built for engagement.
Why do companies insist on putting up brochureware websites, then wonder why nobody is visiting? Who gave them the right to take up valuable cognitive space without providing anything of value? This brings us back to the line that got axed from my presentation.
“Nobody cares about you.”
They didn’t let me get to the next line. I think it’s too frightening for people to consider that nobody cares about them, so they’re not ready for the good news around the bend.
Everybody cares about “me”
Not “everybody cares about Josh Klein.” I’m a narcissist, but even I don’t believe that.
Rather, everyone cares about themselves. That’s good news because it makes people dreadfully predictable in their desires, and business is all about selling people the things they want.
To be a successful brand in the “new digital age” (I hate saying that as much as you hate hearing it), you need to give people what they want.
You can’t build a website about yourself and expect people to care. Instead, you need to build a website about your customer.
Who is your website about?