On relevance and the need to earn it today and every day

If it’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years of studying social media, business, and the pursuit of influence, it’s that we are competing for the moment in order to earn and maintain a semblance of relevance. For businesses struggling to gain traction through Likes, RT’s, comments, clicks, friend and follower counts, the moment for which we compete, never really comes. It is perpetual.

As I was thinking about this idea for an upcoming post, I paused when I heard the following lyrics to Airplane by B.o.B.

Somebody take me back to the days
Before this was a job, before I got paid
And back when I was rappin’ for the hell of it
But now a days we rappin’ to stay relevant

While it’s not the most academic of examples I could reference, the video on YouTube alone has over 100 million views. In order to convey relevance, I used an example of relevance. The song and its message are poignant right now. And if I think about this from the perspective of blogging, many of us invest hours upon hours each day, week, or month to share our thoughts, to earn a moment in the social streams of others, to attract thoughts and reactions, and to gain distinction over time, to collaborate and learn together…one day, hopefully, earning authority on the subjects and in the communities that inspire us.


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  • http://twitter.com/chaacreek ChaaCreek Belize

    Yea relevance is imperative.

  • Anonymous


    You are totally correct. The day-to-day investment, conversations, reading and supporting ideas and other efforts are perhaps an overlooked yet important piece of social media. It is in some ways very tactical to share, collaborate and engage on an ongoing basis but it is absolutely critical to, as you say, earning authority. It’s also critical for the participatory nature of our relationships (whether business or personal). One of the benefits of this ongoing effort is the amazing ideas and people you are exposed to and learn from collaboratively. Great reminder!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Danysetiyawan

    Great Brian solis..
    Congratss for your winning at Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 Social Media Blogs for 2011.

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    We are all time-starved – so this post is especially relevant. :) Well said.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Thanks Jeff… :)

  • Anonymous

    You hit the nail on the head. If we’re posting or reading things that aren’t relevant, what’s the point?

  • http://www.vocus.com Frank Strong

    Awesome! Calling for a remix that samples Linkin Park and becomes the theme song for Brian Solis TV.

  • Chrisps

    Thought provoking and as others have remarked absolutely relevant

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  • http://craigandkimwhite.com Craig White

    If your not relevant your not actually in the conversation. Your post will blow in the wind like a lonely flag never tweeted,liked or reacted on. Therefore never earning the authority we all crave for. As a good friend of mine once said ” Give without want, before you can get”
    Thanks Brian,

  • http://www.theantisocialmedia.com/ Jay Dolan

    This I totally agree with. To me, there’s something more to it than relevance that I can’t put my finger on, but at the same time, I can’t beat the argument that you have to be appropriate to the matter at hand.

    Brian – thank you for the most thought provoking post I’ve read in months.

  • http://www.socialmediareinvention.com/ tonyfaustino

    Your post about relevance reminds me of the Wayne Gretzky quote: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

    Competing for the moment in today’s blogsphere requires research and anticipation of where the next media breakthroughs may occur. I’m not sure what those next breakthroughw may be, but one reason I study your work (and the work of others) is to inform my instincts of what may earn future relevance.

    In one of your Katie Couric interviews, you mentioned how you’re a “student of the game” because everything in this space changes so rapidly. I think putting in the work and study to sift through what may hold future relevance (or not) is part of the fun.

  • Jon Caddell

    relevant perspective. you maintain a safe distance from futility to remain hopeful.

  • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

    24/7/365 for one second of relevance. It might even be harder than winning the lottery because you don’t know about the value until after it’s happened. Hindsight is analytics.

    Never confuse effort with results, but you won’t get results without effort. Relevance is a both a journey and a destination, to me.

    Thank you for the post, Brian.

  • http://www.aureliustjin.com Aurelius Tjin

    Yup, relevance is everything…personal, emotional, financial. In business, if you do not stay relevant..relevant as in—innovates with life’s changing needs, you lose clients. In our personal lives, if you are not relevant – relevant as in—one who stays in touch, you lose friends, family…

  • Anonymous

    Yo Brian – effective, short and inspiring post – thanks for sharing this piece of your mind with the community today!

    Cheers : )

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  • http://twitter.com/jonasyouare John Jiménez

    Nice perspective… but there is one more point. Charm!!! …

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  • Anonymous

    My friend Gwen just wrote a similar post – but from a personal consumer/producer pov. In the post she describes how “The ‘like’ button is the worst kind of hit”. How we’re all lining up looking for validation.

    In this vein, relevance can be viewed as another form of personal and professional validation. I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. When you’re trying to build or maintain a brand (especially a personal brand) in Social Media you spend a lot of time fighting for the attention of others. Fighting to prove that you exist and matter. It used to be fun, and now it just feels fake.

    Which begs the question – how do you know if you’re just burnt out – or if it’s time to change directions?

  • Alexkidd725

    I completely agree. I studying Internet Marketing with @dr4ward at Western Michigan University and also subscribe to your blog. I appreciate the B.O.B. reference too! #mkt3730

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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