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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

popularA technology expert friend of mine just started blogging. We discussed which topics should be the focus of his articles. He told me that he recently read about another technology blogger whose most popular blog entries (as measured by tweets, comments, and Facebook likes) were in fact the least technical topics.

My friend wondered if he should also write less technical blog entries.

My response: Don’t confuse popularity with value.

Why did my friend want to write? Because he wants to sell more of his technology consulting services. Which articles are more likely to do that? Articles on technology. Although rants about philosophy and life may appeal to a broader base of readers, it may be less likely to entice them to buy.

When I write about Goal-Free Living, a topic that is about having a more enjoyable and successful life, everyone can relate. As a result these get read and shared a lot. But my less popular innovation articles are the ones that get me hired for speeches and consulting. Of course I continue to write (to a lesser extent) blog entries that I think will be popular as it attracts more readers to my work – some of whom may be interested in hiring me someday. But I focus on demonstrating the expertise I want to be hired for rather than shooting for something with mass market appeal.

Look at your business. Do you focus on what is popular/cater to the masses? If so, you may be spreading yourself too thin and doing yourself (and your customers) a disservice.

Instead, look for opportunities to focus on what sets you apart from everyone else and  is in the sweet spot of why people buy from you.

Being popular does not mean you will have a successful career. Business is not a popularity contest.


  1. I so agree with you on this. There are so many popular people/pages that post their blogs or articles on Facebook and Twitter and within 5 seconds there is over 100 likes. Question: How do people read a whole blog and/or article in 5 seconds? Answer: They don’t. The ones that read them do not go back to the post to click like.

  2. Thanks for the comment Mira.

    Yes, there is the aspect of people “liking” things they have not read.

    I think the bigger challenge is that it is SO easy these days to get seduced by popularity. From what I understand, this is a problem that plagues teenagers. They post selfies, for example. If they don’t get as many likes (or their equivalent) as others, they can actually become depressed.

    We’ve moved from 15 minutes of fame to 15 seconds of fame.

  3. Steve, I took your advice to heart and wrote a technical article. http://www.leffert.com/glimpse-boston-codecamp-20/

    As you explained, the main goal of my blog is to introduce myself to potential clients as someone who understands their needs and can solve their problems.

    As you also told me that day “People want to see you, touch you, feel you.”

    The videos of your speeches that you share help you meet that need. I will post some funny stuff too, but set it off in a separate section, so people can skip right past it if they prefer.

    The comedy I find compelling shows insight. My favorite moments from my career involve solving a problem quickly and in an unexpected way. Almost feels like delivering a great joke.

    Maybe I’ll write up some of those moments as blog posts.

    I always appreciate your insight (and humor!).

    Your Technology Expert Friend,

    Adam Leffert

  4. Thanks for the comment Adam. And it was smart of you to share your article as a comment (a great technique for getting readers from the audiences of others). Don’t get me wrong, only writing about technology will make you seem boring and not help you spread your wings. Comedy, life philosophies, and other entries will expand your reach while making you seem more human.

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