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A Failed Social Experiment

I had a few lunchtime drinks on Sunday. Perhaps too many. That prompted me to launch myself into the Twittersphere with gusto.

For years now, I’ve flip-flopped on the idea of building a personal brand. Some people do really well with it, and while the world’s greatest online marketers aren’t exactly mainstream celebrities, people that do the kinds of things that I do know names like Spencer Haws, Doug Cunnington and Jon Dysktra.

Go back further in time, and you’ll be hard pressed to find people that aren’t aware of Seth Godin. You’ve got Neil Patel, an example of a divisive figure. I like him. I enjoy using Ubersuggest. Some cite him as an example of what not to do.

This Tweet I saw over the weekend made me chuckle:

These people provide value. Some do courses. Others focus on YouTube. Some do just about everything everywhere, all at once. The big names carry weight. There’s value in their personal brands. If they speak, people listen.

I decided to dabble. Like I said, I was pretty hammered when I made the decision. I went on a follow spree (my Twitter account had launched only the day before). I engaged. I posted a thread. It works for Niche Site Lady; maybe it would work for me.

Then I went to sleep it off and woke up with massive anxiety. First, I realized that the thread I posted was, for want of a better word, shit. My two followers wouldn’t have learned anything they didn’t already know. Second, I saw notifications. I get notification anxiety. Especially when I know I’d had a few drinks when I logged off.

It was the professional version of when I was in my 20s and woke up to 99+ Facebook notifications after a heavy night out.

Phew. Nothing bad.

But then I wondered, what was the point? Personal branding isn’t my business model. I forced it.

I deleted everything to start again.

I wondered if Twitter has a 2FA option with a breathalyzer.

If I do something groundbreaking, I’ll Tweet about it. If I think I can add value, I’ll use the platform to let people know. If I feel strongly about something, I’ll reply.

I’m no guru. I don’t and probably never will sell courses. I can’t be bothered with YouTube. I will write, publish and sometimes promote books. I’ll build niche sites, sometimes under my name, often under a pseudonym, to make life easier for a prospective buyer.

I’m in the game for the money, to the point that I want to make a comfortable living where I’m my own boss. I have no plans to take over the world. I’m looking for the Harry Styles net worth, not the Elon Musk alternative.

I enjoy writing, especially on my terms. This personal blog is the fastest site to reach five posts I’ve ever built. I do this one for me.

According to my business plan, people don’t need to know who Oli Marten is. If they do, that’s great, and I’m happy to hold the conversation. If they don’t, no worries. There are plenty of people out there providing value in the same area of expertise I have each and every day.

I write for the long-term. What’s the shelf-life of a Tweet? Save for going viral, maybe a couple of days at most? I’d rather write 1,000 words than 200 characters when I know those 1,000 words will be worth a few dollars every month if they’re well-maintained.

My social experiment failed. But it added value. At least now I can stop wondering. Now I know for sure.

By all means build a personal brand on social media. For people that enjoy attention, are consistent in engagement and have something worthwhile to say, it’s one of the best things you can do. I’m all for it. It’s just not for me.