"1. Blogs are only effective if you already have a brand. People come
here, or go read Seth Godin, or Marshall Goldsmith, or Jeffrey Gitomer,
or David Meister, because we’re all well known in our areas of
expertise. That is, a blog follows a brand, not the other way around.
You can’t create a brand just with a blog, unless you’re ridiculously
lucky, and business can’t be based on luck."
You are both right and wrong (aren't we all?). You've never heard of Robert Scoble etc. and until today, I've never heard of you. That is until this thing called the "network effect" amplified the things you had to say on your blog . You are right to point out that a brand comes before the technology which can either help that brand gain traction or lose credibility in the marketplace. But, digital media as opposed to traditional is all about amplifying a brand, product, service, or message to niche audiences and so the focus on that amplification is just as important as the brand itself.
Millions of us are using various forms of social networks to connect with, mobilize and even influence very specific groups of people who fall within our specialized niche whatever that is. Unlike mass marketing which uses focus groups to appeal to middle America or (insert demographic here) the internet thrives on fragmentation, algorithms and networks made of people to spread ideas, product recommendations, information etc.
Thanks to Google and various other search engines, digital touch points such a blogs, sites or other various incarnations of ourselves may be the first encounter someone has with our "brand"—be it company or personal. If in the words of Seth Godin, you offer up a "Purple Cow"—do something remarkable, then it's likely that the value you offer may get noticed and incorporated into some kind of sem-reoccurring interaction with individuals. As you point out, this isn't luck but in some cases it actually is. Value is subjective.
All this may lead to influencing their behavior whether it be using your services, buying your product or just subscribing to the content you produce.
Brands + Network Effect = Amplification
But what may be the most critical piece for us to understand and harness is how amplification actually works. The mechanics of it are intricate to say the least. If you have nothing remarkable to offer, there tends to be no amplification. If what you have to offer is remarkably good—the network kicks into overdrive resulting in the influence of behavior and ultimately some type of relationship. If what you have to offer is remarkably bad—the network also kicks into high gear and amplifies the negativity—influencing behavior and often times causing perception and possibly relationships to go south.
Michael Dell understood this when he prioritized the effort for his company to participate in the positive amplification of his own brand via the internet including multiple social networks. This ultimately lead to more than a 20% improvement of opinions found on the Web accessible through Google etc. Other major companies have watched closely and are now in the process of figuring out how their own brands need to come to terms with this new reality.
Whether we know who Robert Scoble, Hugh McLeod or Guy Kawasaki is—is irrelevant.
Brands + Amplification = Influence on the other hand, is not. If you are reading this post—you can thank the
power influence of social networks. And thank you for some food for thought—which is always a good thing.