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Social Media: Modern Day Gold Rush?

I just got back from several days in historical Skagway, Alaska – gateway to the Klondike Goldfields. I’m fascinated by the visceral history hubby and I are soaking up as we journey the country in our motorhome.

Travel definitely broadens the mind… and got me thinking about the amazing correlation between the crazy gold fever more than a century ago and the social media frenzy of today.

[Pic: $5million in gold, taken at one of the museums in Skagway. Okay, it’s not real gold. :)].

Pioneers blaze trails through the new Web 2.0 and 3.0 worlds. Developers create incredible new applications on the bleeding edge of technology. Early adopters flood new platforms. And hundreds of thousands of hungry prospectors stampede platforms like Facebook and Twitter in search of their own stash of “GOLD.”

Gold! Gold! Gold! …but only a few make it

Gold was first discovered in the Klondike way up in Yukon, Canada on August 16, 1896 by George Washington Carmack and two Indian friends. They set in motion one of the most memorable events in history when they returned to Seattle, WA to announce their discovery and the headlines read, “Gold! Gold! Gold!

By 1897, one hundred thousand prospectors stampeded toward the Klondike Goldfields, via Skagway or nearby Dyea. Men (and a few women) from all over the world from all professions abandoned their families, homes and jobs and risked life and limb completely stricken with gold fever. They endured intense hardship and grueling conditions.

After hiking, boating and hauling literally a ton of goods for many long hard months, many stampeders got to Dawson City only to find most all of the land had been claimed and there was little gold just for the taking. They had to settle for meager jobs just to survive.

[Pic above: “the golden stairs” on the Chilkoot Trail. Men like ants climb the intense ascent to the summit, still with 500+ miles to go].

Of the 100,000 prospectors:

  • 30,000 actually made it to the goldfields,
  • 15,000 found gold,
  • and only 4,000 got rich and kept their riches.

And who were those 4,000? The ones who succeeded were the entrepreneurs and visionaries. The were the men and women who opened stores, made products, imported goods, created and sold services, and built roads and railways. They saw needs and filled them. They got creative, tapped into their natural talent and flourished.

What does all this have to do with social media?

Facebook is like a modern day goldfield: hundreds of thousands of new prospectors stampede onto the site daily riddled with gold fever. Some go crazy panning and panning on the river’s edge pushing and shoving others out the way. Some hardly bother to dip their toe in the water. Others have figured out the process and are truly flourishing. It’s the law of numbers: only a few will “make it” just like the entrepreneurs and visionaries of 1897-98.

Here’s the lesson: carve out your own niche on Facebook… and beyond. No one can be you. Tap into your unique talents and be that, not someone else you’re not. Strive to differentiate yourself, but remain authentic, transparent and true to your self. Find a need and fill it. Talk up your USP: unique selling proposition. Make sure you implement a profitable business model. Work with proven systems.

What’s your vision? What’s your business model? Your revenue model? Are you clear on EXACTLY how much gold (profit) you want to generate this year?! Precisely how close are you to that target?

For help with your answers to these questions, join me and Kevin Nations on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 11:00am PT / 2:00pm ET.

Mari Smith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Forbes describes Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” IBM named Mari as one of seven women that are shaping digital marketing. Mari is an in-demand keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, dynamic live webcast host, and popular brand ambassador. She is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

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  1. marketing niche strategy on March 8, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Newbies at internet marketing are for sure doomed to failure if they try to start out an internet marketing business without a right plan or strategy. |Internet marketing isn’t much different than marketing an offline business. Marketing online utilizes the internet to promote a product or service to a massive audience through sites, blogs or paid advertising just like a business owner would market their store through the Yellow Pages, TV Ads, Billboards, etc.

  2. Naomi Trower on July 17, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    It’s so refreshing to hear the right
    spirit to have towards social networking.
    and marketing! Have a great day!

    Naomi Trower’s last blog post.. What is Your Money Blueprint?

  3. Stephanie Calahan on July 9, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Great post Mari. I really like the comparison and call to action. I’m fairly new to Facebook, but I can already see the value. I especially like your thoughts on finding a niche. That is a very important point when using this as a tool or any other social networking site for business building. Since I work with people to help them manage their time more effectively, I have seen where Facebook and other online tools can be a time waster too. By focusing in how we use it, and applying a strategic approach, I’m sure it will really pay off.

    Stephanie Calahan’s last blog post.. Even When It Is Quiet. . . We Should Listen

  4. Conrad Jooste on July 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Mari, great post…trying to get clear on what niche, goals, market etc seems to be half my problem at the moment. There are these ‘gold nuggets’ that seem to be appearing all the time. They are very enticing but take your eye off the ball! Need more focus which you seem to provide.

  5. DrTodd Fiegel on July 8, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Phenomenal comparison, and so true.

    Technology changes even faster than goldfields were depleted, and those that provide the tools instead of simply telling others where to dig and how deep, are those to whom people will return time and time again and bring new folks along, too.

    Why? Because the most successful don’t say, “Here is my success; copy me.” They say, “Here are the tools. Take them and mix them with yourself so that you can own them and find your own best success.”

    They aren’t the preachers. They are the enablers.

    And I so respect the way you enable others, Mari.


  6. Elizabeth Potts Weinstein on July 7, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    So here’s the question — will the people who get rich on social networking/media those who try to get rich on social networking … or those who sell stuff to people who are trying to get rich on social networking (like the entrepreneurs who sold stuff to the gold miners, built roads, put up hotels, etc.)? Interesting …


  7. Shama Hyder on July 7, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    VERY well written Mari. It’s definitely a great comparison. Some don’t see it as a “real” opportunity-but those who do, will really come out Golden. = )

    Shama Hyder’s last blog post.. Ranking Social Networking Sites: Which Ones Make the Cut?

  8. Nancy Sutherland on July 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Great post, Mari! I love the analogy of the modern day gold rush. Lots of people fumbling around with social media without any clear goals of what they want to accomplish. I totally agree with you that just do a good job of showing people who you are and what you have to offer. Thanks for the clear direction on the path to our own goldmine!

    Nancy Sutherland’s last blog post.. Secrets to Discovering Your ?Why?

  9. Jan Tallent on July 8, 2008 at 2:04 am

    I agree, Mari, great comparisons of the gold rush and social marketing. I had to be led kicking and screaming into this media but honestly, rhe riches in networking are better than gold!

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