When the web exploded onto the seen roughly 15 or so years ago, a new revolution began in a variety of ways. One of those was the ability for just about anyone to be anything they wanted to be much easier then ever before. Whether you wanted to launch a business, start a blog, or claim yourself an expert in whichever matter you choose, the web gave just about every person with an internet connection new opportunities.
The social media explosion has had a similar effect. A few years in, and the social web has taken it a step further by giving those some people an ability to connect with far more people more easily then ever before. Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. have made it much easier to amass an audience. And while great things have come from these new technologies, it has not come without being taken advantage of as well.
Having just returned from SES Chicago (a search and social conference), I had another overall good experience. I had the honor of getting to moderate one panel, speak on another, and participate in a Webmaster.fm interview (to be posted here shortly). The reality is, I don’t attend conferences much anymore unless I’m doing one or a variety of one these activities. More so because typically these conferences are not geared for me, but for those without my experience. Not that I don’t learn a few things or two along the way, but I tend to learn much more with other methods (on the job, books, online research, etc.).
But what I’m most amazed by is the often significant discrepancy between a person’s online credentials vs. their offline persona. Often times I’m impressed with those I do some research on whether it’s reading their blogs, following their social profiles, etc., but then when I meet the real thing there is a glaring difference in what I perceived, and the real thing.
The web and the social web is definitely an equalizer. It enables just about anyone to position themselves however they want. But honestly, outside of outright lying, I can’t blame anyone for doing so. It’s up to people to do their due diligence to always ask the right questions, and more importantly, utilize your circle of trusted relationships to get the right answers.
And when all else fails, defer to examples of real world business results. Ask for examples of claimed knowledge and experience in action. Ask for references from those examples. And make sure that the business results that you define as success, map to those examples closely so you’re not left in disappointment. All the likes and follows in the world do not matter if they don’t lead to more sales, more engagement, or whatever your true measure of success really is.
And in case anyone was wondering…I’m Batman. No really, I am.