Should you be a lemming (or not)?

The North American lemming Synaptomys Cooperi, is actually quite a cute animal, in my opinion.

Charles Green, a contributing editor at, has written a provocative post where he argues that far too many marketers are falling into the trap of considering “best practices” and metrics to be the core of their social media strategies.  He says this approach — essentially following or being part of the crowd much like a lemming — ultimately is destructive and certainly isn’t strategic.

Don’t Be a Lemming

When you set out to compete on volume alone, you’re up against some seriously tough competition. There is room for only one low-cost producer in any market, and it’s traditionally the one with the highest volume. In an Internet world of zero-marginal cost and a lemming-like belief that more metrics are better, there is no shortage of people willing to bankrupt you by leading the way to bankruptcy. Don’t go there unless you have deeper pockets than anyone else.

Competing on differentiation is inherently more attractive. But a lemming strategy is equally seductive here: just because you can “move the needle” doesn’t mean the needle is connected to anything real. It’s easy to get lost in the supposedly quantitative world of social media metrics and forget that there’s not necessarily any “there” there.

Of course, the challenge for anyone working in the Internet/content/email marketing space is: How do you avoid this “lemming” trap?

I wish I had a simple answer but believe the solution arises from your own expertise/knowledge and genuine passions, coupled with the talents and interests of the people around you. You can combine these elements into something more substantial and meaningful — and then apply the best practices to spur and measure your innovations’ results.

But Green is right in that counting the numbers and following the rule book won’t do it. You have to differentiate. You need to be original.

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