I follow a lot of people I look up to on Twitter. With few exceptions, it’s a delicately curated list of people I respect the most in (mostly) marketing/design related fields.
But, and I’m not sure if it’s my winter mood, or the nature of the platform constraints on character limits leading to misunderstandings, or Twitter’s following Facebook in its newsfeed algorithmic preference for serving me things that will get a reaction (optimizing for engagement), or that I’m getting (even) more sensitive as I get older, but I’ve been getting irked by a lot of tweets lately.
There are (at least to me) very clear delineations in quality of SEO expertise.
I’ve had the privilege of following a lot of these people as they’ve grown and evolved in a rapidly changing and maturing industry over the past 10 years or so.
One problem though is that the best SEOs/marketers/designers/whatever are by nature the most highly intelligent, creative, resourceful, hard working, consistent, with often robust and varied educational backgrounds.
In summary, privileged.
In my late 20s I broke off an engagement, moved back from China, had racked up a bunch of credit card debt and had to move back in with my parents.
Even in that state, I was able to start my own business, quickly getting a few clients for SEO in Jersey Shore vacation rentals market: Keller Williams, Sea Isle Realty, a portfolio of beachfront hotels, adding up to respectable monthly income.
But I can’t parse out how much of that is privilege and how much of it is something I did and can be proud of.
I wouldn’t have had real estate agency connections or understand that market if my dad didn’t insist I get a real estate license as a teen, if he wasn’t an agent himself. I wouldn’t have been able to cheaply drive around and stay down the shore to pitch agencies if I didn’t have a reliable car and parents’ shore house to crash at. And I wouldn’t have passed the sniff test with prospects if I didn’t sound like I had grown up on the Main Line as a lifer at an elite all boys school. I wouldn’t have been able to deeply learn SEO over the course of the preceding year racking up credit card debt self teaching in China. I wouldn’t have known how to self-teach without my educational background or had the time if I didn’t have the privilege of those things.
So when “we” take to Twitter and complain about SEO spammers, you know, marketers in developing countries under intense pressure to perform, so they can keep a job to feed their families, that didn’t go to schools that were teaching students how to do internet research in the 90s, it’s annoying AF.
Or we share screenshots with lots of favorites and retweets of (to us) abhorrent link outreach emails riddled with misspelling lacking any semblance of social acuity. Everyone nods at how shoddy this work is. These people should know better.
We get annoyed when someone doesn’t “get it” enough to take the time to personalize an email, or linkedin connection request, or you know, do any of the things that come naturally to us based on experience, good training, upbringing or institutional support.
We think we’re better when we really should just be raising the bar for ourselves because the stool of privilege we get to stand on is way above the bar we set for ourselves.