I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty dang tired of hearing about Justin Bieber. I don’t know anything about Justin Bieber, I’ve never heard a Justin Bieber song and I probably couldn’t pick little Justin Bieber out of a line up, but I know that I hate him. He’s always trending, girls are always screaming and he’s the top headline of every media outlet I see. We’re at the point where just the sound of his name makes my skin crawl and my IQ drop. But the media can’t help themselves. Because the more they talk about him, the more they think they keep themselves “relevant”, hitting on the same five stories that every other magazine is hitting. They don’t want to be left behind or look different. Because that’s what entertainment news has become – trying to look identical to everyone else.
Take a look at your feed reader and you’ll notice that your industry has its own Justin Bieber. Blogs are filled with topics and headlines that are over-played, over-talked about, and over-everything. Yet we hype them because our competitors are, because the big dogs do, or because we’re told they’re popular. We even have full-blown Justin Bieber aggregators, sites dedicated to finding over-exposed topics and helping bloggers make them even more over-exposed.
Put down the Justin Beiber or your blog will die.
It’s pretty easy to find the Justin Bieber infecting your the world.
- The top story on TechMeme that’s covered by 87 or so different blogs, all pulling from the same four unverified facts? That headline is Justin Bieber.
- The repetitive posts on your favorite social voting site? That’s Justin Bieber.
Problogger’s lists of “blogosphere trends”? That’s Justin Bieber.
- The trackbacks on that A-lister’s blog where people are commenting on what he commented on about what that other guy said? That’s Justin Bieber.
- The rash of posts and Twitter freak outs over Google Instant? That’s Justin Bieber.
Justin Bieber is your industry’s echo-chamber. And you either break out of it or it kills you.
It’s pretty easy to spot the eco-chamber, but it can be tougher for some to break out of it. After all, new bloggers are often told to link to people whose attention they want. So you cover what Mashable wrote and then link. You share that TechCrunch story and link. But that’s not creating real content and it doesn’t help you to grow your audience, your blog or, ultimately, you’re business. You do that by being different, by showing your quirks, and letting your customers see what you believe in.
How do you break out of the echo-chamber and kill Justin Bieber? Here are a few suggestions.
Ignore your RSS/feed aggregator for a week: I’ve said this before but, blogs make you dumb. Take the week off (maybe just keep one. I recommend Search Engine Land if you’re SEO-related) and focus on your own thoughts, no one else’s. By bogging your mind down with too much repetitive news, you limit your ability to think clearly and pick the wheat from the chaff. You start thinking like everyone else just because that’s what you keep hearing. Give yourself a week to find your own news and seek out other voices. Don’t worry, if the story is really that buzzworthy, you’re better off waiting a week to comment on it anyway. By that time, people will actually be ready to read it.
Leave your safety zone: As bloggers, we all have our “go to” blog topics, as well as the stuff we avoid writing because we’re scared. Focus on pushing yourself and your content in those more frightening directions. When it hurts, you’re doing something right and using blog muscles you forgot you had. It will spice up the blog and bring different types of content and media to your audience. That’s a way better way to spend your time than regurgitating the story you’ve already heard 15 times.
See the bubble, but go under it: Sometimes topic gain buzz because they’re actually worth it (I know, it’s rare). You don’t want to ignore topics that can help your audience or where you can provide an interesting insight. But instead of writing about the release of Google Instant, wait a week and tell me how you’re going to incorporate that into your marketing plan. Don’t write about how the media once again say women are still invisible in tech, find 20 women who are rocking it and profile them. You can take advantage of buzz-worthy topics without sitting in the echo-chamber. But you have to learn how to do it.
Focus on creating content: Instead of rehashing everyone else’s content, actually create your own. I’m sorry, but there’s a difference between creating your own blog content and commenting on content someone else created. Learn to tell the difference. Maybe this means you’ll start to publish your own research, write from the edge of your topic, take unpopular stands, solve someone else’s problem, create a tutorial you needed but wasn’t out there at the time, create a tool, etc. Whatever you choose to do, focus on actually creating content instead of just throwing it back up.
Stop listening to everyone else, push yourself, and focus on creating content. It really is that easy to kill Justin Bieber. Well, at least your personal Bieber. Puberty will kill the other one.