It’s not what you know

Two things I read this morning have made me think about social networking. First, a comment from my friend Snuffkin (she of the wise words) and the second a blog post by Gregory Patrick (otherwise known as Mad Man Knitting… check out his lovely knitted bears).

A bowl of bath puffs!

If you want to make a difference: buy from a craftsperson!

How do you determine whether you are successful? Is it about having a roof over your head? Being able to feed yourself? Helping others? Well, apparently, at the moment it’s about how many ‘votes’ you get in various on-line competitions. And, thus it is not about what you know, or indeed who you know, but more about how many people you know and how many people they know.

I really like the opportunity to communicate with others around the world – to make new friends, to connect with other people who have similar interests.  I like using Facebook; I like writing my blog and responding to the comments. I use these channels to advertise the courses that I teach and the crafts that I sell. I even get a warm glow when I get a new follower for this blog. But how far do we take this?

If we, like Gregory, don’t get enough ‘votes’ to win a Martha Stewart competition that would allow us to develop our business, are we failures? Or that our business is not good? Or does it simply mean that we are not sufficiently well-known? And if success is only linked to how many Facebook ‘likes’ we have, what is the point in developing a skill? Whatever happened to merit?

Now I know that it’s not possible to sell a product or service without marketing, but I am disturbed by the fact that Martha Stewart is only prepared to support a business if it is sufficiently well-know to get a gazillion votes in her competition. I can’t help feeling that this is more about marketing Martha Stewart than about supporting skilled and creative people.

So, rather than buying into this sort of big-business marketing, let’s do something that will make a difference to the little guys (that’s US). If you like someone’s product – buy it; if you are looking for a gift – visit your local craft fair, or Folksy or Etsy and buy something handmade from a small producer; if you think a carftsperson is good – tell your friends (on-line if you like); and if you want to support your community, then support the people who work and earn a living in it. Let’s get behind the little guys – Martha Stewart, Justin  Beiber and Coca-cola simply don’t need our help!

OK, rant over…. tomorrow I’ll write about squashes!

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