The biggest secret of the internet is the biggest secret of most other success in this life, I think.
And funny how I keep hearing this from successful people.
But I love Seth Godin’s take on this, in regard to the web.
In his post The secret of the web (hint: it’s a virtue) he says:
Google was a very good search engine for two years before you started using it.
The iPod was a dud.
I wrote Unleashing the Ideavirus 8 years ago. A few authors tried similar ideas but it didn’t work right away. So they gave up. Boingboing is one of the most popular blogs in the world because they never gave up.
The irony of the web is that the tactics work really quickly. You friend someone on Facebook and two minutes later, they friend you back. Bang.
But the strategy still takes forever. The strategy is the hard part, not the tactics.
I discovered a lucky secret the hard way about thirty years ago: you can outlast the other guys if you try. If you stick at stuff that bores them, it accrues. Drip, drip, drip you win.
It still takes ten years to become a success, web or no web. The frustrating part is that you see your tactics fail right away. The good news is that over time, you get the satisfaction of watching those tactics succeed right away.
The trap: Show up at a new social network, invest two hours, be really aggressive with people, make some noise and then leave in disgust.
The trap: Use all your money to build a fancy website and leave no money or patience for the hundred revisions you’ll need to do.
The trap: read the tech blogs and fall in love with the bleeding-edge hip sites and lose focus on the long-term players that deliver real value.
The trap: sprint all day and run out of energy before the marathon even starts.
The media wants overnight successes (so they have someone to tear down). Ignore them. Ignore the early adopter critics that never have enough to play with. Ignore your investors that want proven tactics and predictable instant results. Listen instead to your real customers, to your vision and make something for the long haul. Because that’s how long it’s going to take, guys.
Cheers to that.