About 6 years ago I joined the NOSO Project. It was a social media network for people who didn’t want to be involved in social media. It was an arts project based in NY.


I was member number 411. Members organised real social functions in the physical world for nobody to attend. I think it eventually folded through lack of content, which I guess means it was a success?! But here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2yfDlUKYxc

At around the same time I was persuaded to become involved as a founder of an online social network for digital marketers. At least my gray hair counted for something. My gut feel at the time was to avoid it, but I trusted my friend’s judgement.

My main concern was why have a social network (it was really business network, but social sounds cooler) for people with limited talent. That is, a network for people who only know something about digital channels. I was told not to worry as the people behind it were digital geniuses who had made a fortune selling their digital businesses.

When people make a fortune selling their businesses in a rising market to unsuspecting investors who want to jump into the market, you know to be careful of the businesses.


The site encouraged postings to educate members through articles, links and the like. As you can guess, it turned into a self-promotion free-for-all. Opinions more than information. Very anti-social really.

One person who sold his digital art studio, sorry agency, for over $1 million posted that he taught in seminars: “…a brand is just a logo taken to the next level…” Yes folks, true. And the digi-kids who also wanted to start a business and sell it to someone for over $1 million, lapped it up.

Despite my protestings, there was no marketing plan for the business – “it’s digital it will sell itself online”. Eventually spam overtook the site and the hassle of sorting the good stuff from the social-wind became too difficult.

It died a slow death and the site now lingers in cyber-space gathering digi-cobwebs and the odd bit of affiliate revenue from advertisers.  www.gooruze.com  It’s a shame as I’m sure the intent was good.


Think about it though – a digital social network run by digital marketers for digital marketers, is an EPIC FAIL. (gotta luv a buzzword). That has to tell you something doesn’t it??

Most digital agencies have grown on the back of clients throwing buckets of money at the agencies to build the client’s digital assets – websites, ads, social sites, viral campaigns, etc. But once the assets are built and the cashflow slows down, the lifeblood of the agencies ebbs away.

Unfortunately, the agencies have grown soft around the middle and in some cases up top – as they’ve not had to work for a living. They are metaphorical muffin-tops. Their clients built their businesses for them. When economic times change for the worse and the budgets disappear, the people running the digi-businesses aren’t skilled enough to keep growing them, because that wasn’t the skill-set they needed to do the job previously.

That’s not to say there aren’t some very talented people in the industry, but the old adage, “good times breed bad habits” is now coming to the fore in the digital world, as questions are being asked about the “value” being provided by alleged digi-experts. A very influential CEO told me yesterday about how many fellow CEOs want to withdraw from social media bcause of the lack of positive ROI.

But they can’t withdraw, they need a presence as customers will give them one. After all, the best use of social media for businesses is as a complaint channel.

It’s defining the investment in the social presence that their digi-experts are unable to help them with, as they haven’t a clue either. Their digi-strength has been spending money, not accounting for the spend.

Starting and running any business, let alone an online business is not easy. It needs marketing skills, not binary ones, among other things.

As I’ve said before, if it was that easy we’d all just start a digital agency. Now there’s an idea…