How to Popularize Ideas Online
Ideas are not websites. You do not optimize them for search or social media.
Ideas get spread by people.
Ideas spread best when they are:
Ideally they can be implemented on their own without buying expensive solutions.
How can an idea of yours spread like wildfire and provide a visible benefit to you?
How I Popularized an Idea
I’d like to show you an example close to home. I’ve been popularizing ideas all the time, especially one specific idea, the idea of the
- next level
SEO. Yes, the SEO 2.0 I stand for is an idea I popularized to some extent.
I didn’t really succeed in popularizing the “2.0” moniker.
I also failed to change the perception of the SEO acronym itself which is tainted to say the least. The mainstream does not understand SEO let alone accept and appreciate it.
Even in the business world SEO remains the ugly stepchild nobody really talks to but has to sit at the table with the others.
SEO is just considered a necessary evil and most business people would like to see it “dead“.
My main mistake was to use an unpopular name and to add even more complexity or questionable hype to it.
It seemed like a good idea around 2007 when the enthusiasm of the new social Web was very strong but it backfired in the long run for sure. It’s “keep it simple” or lose people along the way.
A cryptic acronym like SEO is always harder to remember and thus spreads rather slowly. Usually it remains under the radar for the majority and only a select group of experts use it.
Don’t Own the Idea to Popularize it
I never claimed to have invented SEO 2.0 or to have coined the term. I paid dues. I mentioned all those who defined SEO 2.0 before me.
Then I tried to imagine a new and better SEO around 2005 to 2007. Yes, SEO 2.0 is 10+ years old by now. It was a spin-off of the Web 2.0 paradigm shift in a way.
Now the Web 2.0 hype is long gone and everything is 2.0 without the need to mention it. It sounds already a bit antiquated. Back then it was cool so that even one guy claimed to have it invented later on.
My point was NOT to trademark it or make it appear as if I’m the one and only who is allowed to use it.
The point was to make other people adopt the SEO 2.0 approach or both that and the term itself. Some people came to the same or similar realizations that I did and didn’t even know that I exist.
Sometimes time breeds progress by itself when its ripe. I never told them that they just ripping off what I did. I congratulated on their achievements and supported them whenever possible.
Ideas are different than people or products. There can only be one Madonna or one iPhone, otherwise people would get confused.
There can be many people approaching SEO 2.0 from different angles. Everybody has a different perspective and thus ideas voiced by different people will always be slightly different too.
Otherwise ideas become ideologies, something people fight for in the end. An idea must remain open, free and fluid to be able to spread indefinitely.
Make the Idea Easy to Grasp
One of the biggest issues with the original SEO (search engine optimization) is that it’s not only a cryptic acronym but also a difficult to understand discipline as a whole.
Once you get it a bit it has already changed a lot and everybody claims something else about it. You never stop learning ideally.
Two people can talk about SEO and have completely divergent concepts of it on their minds.
Concepts like findability don’t have the problems of SEO despite dealing with the same things or being even just a synonym of SEO in some cases.
Yet, findability managed to become a term and practice by reputable governmental and educational organizations while SEO remained similar to dark magic.
There is no such thing as misleading, unethical or downright negative findability. What can we learn from that?
You may argue that while findability doesn’t have a reputation problem it’s not yet widely popular. I’m not sure about this.
It depends on how you measure popularity and where. Sure, Internet geeks talk more about SEO so the popularity may seem inflated.
Librarians are probably less active an Twitter or Google+ but they talk about findability among peers in real life and publish scientific papers about it too.
While findability is a self-explanatory word and real people can pronounce and memorize it the concept itself is still too large and complex.
Findability wants to be too many things at once and enclose other disciplines and areas of expertise.
Experts from these industries do not like to be pushed around or appropriated though. That’s one reason why neither search nor social media professionals accepted the findability moniker despite its obvious advantages.
Findability is both complex and has been introduced from outside the affected industries.
Become an insider to popularize from within
Most of the “SEO is dead, xyz will replace it” ideas failed despite the huge 15 minutes of fame each of those articles got.
Thee articles were mostly written by outsiders who attempted to hijack the industry. That’s why they worked so well.
You can’t just force people to accept your ideas. You will be viewed as obnoxious even in case the ideas make sense. You need to earn respect among your peers.
When I started out with SEO 2.0 I was still too new in the international SEO arena too make a significant impact.
I got the short term attention but I didn’t convince the people who mattered that the paradigm shift requires a new name and approach.
Now let’s try again. Popularization is even better than SEO 2.0! I hope I gained enough credibility by now.
Ideally more people will support my initiative to popularize popularization. You don’t have to bury SEO while at it.
You can treat SEO as one of many popularization services. Popularization is about making ideas, people and things known and likeable.
You need to spread the word on the Web for sure and search is one of the go to strategies to get the word out.
* The “popular idea circle” custom illustration stems from my supporters at Freepik.com