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I deleted my 118k-follower, verified Instagram account (yobenlee.com)
53 points by itsbenlee 60 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments

It's interesting to read a blog post that I guess caters to some audience that is "in the know" with whatever this guy is doing because all I got was the message "Being an influencer is not the answer" where I am still left with "..to what?"

I am pretty sure I agree with the sentiment that he is reaching for but I have no idea what he was trying to achieve with his profile. But if he did indeed spend over $100k building it up, I guess it's a good thing that he finally decided to stop if it wasn't working!

There are a lot of people who believe that building a huge Instagram following is a core component to building businesses, especially in the fashion/fitness/lifestyle arenas. So much so that there are people out there calling themselves "entrepreneurs" who haven't actually done anything other than build a modest following and maybe hock someone else's brand to their followers in exchange for (maybe) a couple bucks.

I think part of this belief comes because a few people like @christianguzmanfitness have managed to build a following of over 1 million people which has enabled them to sell a lot of their clothing and travel and buy expensive cars and such. But that's very much the exception and not the rule.

I do think Ig can be a great tool to grow a brand on a shoestring budget, but I also agree with this article which challenges the all-to-popular notion that if you get a lot of followers on Ig you'll be rich and important.

Which, when you put it this way, is not all that different than the current startup mentality of building an audience before you build your product.

>There are a lot of people who believe that building a huge Instagram following is a core component to building businesses, especially in the fashion/fitness/lifestyle arenas

Yep and they are the suckers in the game that are building up the network and network effects.

If they sat down and tried to figure out the numbers, they would see that they need to aim for a decent-sized audience (10k followers? 100k followers?) that are actively interested in their Instagram posts and stories and will click through their profile to their website, links or email, or call or whatever.

This is why it's so important to measure the full customer journey, not just the vanity metric of "1 follow = 1 win!". You aren't a winner till the money's in the bank.

He wanted to achieve business with it, I think it was pretty clear in the article.

...but what business?

App development and associated services: https://www.neonroots.com/about-us

Is the first sentence meant to be for the title, i.e.

"Fuck Social Media. That Ain’t It." -- said every major marketer in 2018.


I'm asking because it doesn't make any sense (he said "Every marketer was wrong", but then he agreed on "fuck social media").

This time the random bullshit generator threw up inconsistent clickbaity sentences, sometimes it happens.

also confused by this

I think it depends on what the business is that you're trying to grow.

I am building my personal brand (23k followers on IG, almost 10k on YouTube) and I've found it can bring business, if you sell the kind of thing the followers you attract are interested in.

Right now I'm selling the books I wrote, and soon I'll add stickers, patches, T-Shirts and posters. Then I'll see what comes next.

Will I earn $100k/year? Absolutely not.

Will it grow into a nice side income that allows me to work full time less? I certainly think it will.

Dear lord this is cringe-worthy.

this article is all over the place...

- spent $100.000 on personal branding, but what was spent on building the instagram following and what was the ROI on that part?

- "If you wanna know how to get to a million followers, it’s not complicated." so why does he only has 118.000 followers? did he give up before reaching his goal?

- "And guess what? Thanks to that exclusivity, he’s the most searched-for term. If you type “Seth” into Google, “Seth Godin” is the first search result. " first of all no he's not and second of all he's not in the suggestion list because he doesn't broadcast his mailing list. would have been nice to see some reasoning behind that statement.

- "It cost me $1,000 to speak at All Thing Social Media Event or at Soho House on growth hacking. I was able to generate at least $10,000, in some cases even 100X on my spend." is part of the sentence is missing? how do you get 1000% ROI from such gigs?


He founded a mobile app development company. Speaking at a conference for $1000, and getting a single customer from that conference would probably get him $10,000 in revenue.

I agree that they're pretty shallow ramblings. Also, of course he's not going to get much business from his instagram. He's not selling a lifestyle product, he's selling mobile apps.

Plenty of money is being made by influencers, it may not last but it's not nothing. Maybe traditional business doesn't benefit as much, but if you're an attractive young lady, or an engaging funny gamer with a few collaborations it seems the sky is the limit. You won't build the next Apple, but it's a decent living if you can parlay your social media popularity into other businesses or revenue streams that generate money.

I'd upvote this, but it doesn't seem to be in spirit of the post.

> CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18.

This whole article seems like it lacks any concrete message. In the end, it feels like the writer is still trying sell himself to me. Which... I don't understand; what is so different about "personal branding" on social media, and spamming me with emails about your life and ventures?

A week later and @igbenlee is back on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/igbenlee guess he couldn't resist the temptation to get the "likes".

Last week his profile was 404 to coincide with the release of his "F Social Media" blog post. https://github.com/dwyl/home/issues/29#issuecomment-45562117...

Agreed that ain't it. I built up my account relatively quickly to a modest 11k followers and found nothing but emptiness there. Superficial interactions with people I don't know. Meaningless. I never post now. I spend more time thinking about the future, layout out a plan for my life and reading books. ROI of that time spent is much, much higher both in terms of moving my career forward and overall happiness.

That's the weird thing I've discovered about IG in particular, there is almost no real interaction in the public comments between the 'community'. The comments are frequently just lists of users tagging different users.

It's bad UX too, which I why I pretty much never click on the "more" button for individual posts.

I feel the same every time I get into Twitter, it's like everyone is trying to sell me something, their brand, an idea conveyed in the most twitter like superficial way, it's just empty.

I curated it a great deal and ended up with various accounts that focus on various interests where I follow accounts that provide real data.... but almost all of it I would just go to their website to find anyway and I found that even with those accounts I was just filtering a great deal of stuff that I wouldn't read on their site too, but now I have to scroll past each item individually.

The end result was a larger time sink, and even emptier experience than most social media sites.

If you're an entrepreneur, this may certainly be true.

But if you're someone who's success depends on staying top of mind, then social media is important. Actors and politicians come to mind. Both of course have to do other things too, but a large social media following will definitely boost them, especially for someone who isn't already super famous.

Look at what social media has done for AOC. I have a friend who is a successful working actor, has produced and starred in a couple of films. Her social media definitely drives business.

Yeah I have no problem with people hustling and working hard to build something, and as with any other part of life, some will make it and some won't..

I'm just always left wondering, all this effort that so many young people pour into building their social media influence.. What does society get out of that in the end?

It feels like "not much" on a good day (and a lot of social debt on a bad day)..

And maybe this is just me becoming an old man (I'm in my early 40s), but it seems like a waste of a generation's energy and inspiration..

I too am in my 40s. But you could say the same thing about us 80s kids and our obsession with video games. Back then adults were asking "what does society get from a generation that plays video games all day?" They even made comics with jokes like "make $250,000 a year playing video games!!".

And guess what? There are people now that make a lot more money than that playing video games, and a bunch of people our age who get a ton of money a year to make those games.

So who knows, maybe it will show it's value later.

Besides, society has had famous people for quite a long time, so there must be some value in it.

In the bio:

>> Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

You can't be good at anything if you change industry every few years. It takes at least a decade to be truly good at something. If you're selling a service that you're not actually good at, you're just a snake oil salesman. Your success doesn't depend on how talented you are, but on how good you are at fooling people.

I disagree.

Being able to adapt to many business arenas is a skill. This can be applied to anything. eg The software dev that has spent the last 10 years doing Java, can still be outshined by a recent college grad who is able to adapt/learn quick and can produce more "creative" or effective outcomes.

I've worked as an engineer in over 14 different software companies of all sizes over the last decade (including one Y Combinator company for 1 year) and I've interacted with hundreds of top engineers but I've never once seen a talented engineer 'straight out of college'. There is no room for lone creative geniuses in the software industry. It's more science than art. On the other hand, I've met plenty of very good engineers in their 40s; even those engineers who were never passionate about the work tend to become really good at it after a couple of decades.

Unless you delegate really well, have knack for understanding customers worldviews (regardless of domain) which is essential for good UX, and/or have good business partners in each case with domain experience...

There is a limit, but some of the best people I've worked with have changed industries multiple times. There isn't only one way to do things.

Of course your diagnosis of this particular author is probably correct.

Why is this flagged? There's nothing disingenuous about this post. Frankly, I agree with him entirely. Social media is a net negative these days for many individuals and businesses.

Kudos to the author for having the guts to say it. (Disclosure: I was an early adopter and used to teach social media for business. I quit FB more than a year ago and never looked back.)

> i have seen many people spill their guts on-line, and i did so myself until, at last, i began to see that i had commodified myself. commodification means that you turn something into a product which has a money-value. in the nineteenth century, commodities were made in factories, which karl marx called “the means of production.” capitalists were people who owned the means of production, and the commodities were made by workers who were mostly exploited. i created my interior thoughts as a means of production for the corporation that owned the board i was posting to, and that commodity was being sold to other commodity/consumer entities as entertainment. that means that i sold my soul like a tennis shoe and i derived no profit from the sale of my soul. people who post frequently on boards appear to know that they are factory equipment and tennis shoes, and sometimes trade sends and email about how their contributions are not appreciated by management.

https://gist.github.com/kolber/2131643 (1994)

I don’t understand the strawman he is fighting, here. Who believes that having a lot of instagram followers creates business? Surely causation works in the other direction. Can anyone help me understand who claims otherwise?

Marketing departments

This is the kind of startup entrepreneur bullshit I used to love. Now I just feel kind of sad. If you don't want to manage your Instagram, then don't. Not everything in life has to be about turning a profit.

I noticed if you run a business, building a personal brand can be powerful (i.e I make awesome cakes and then people see them and come and buy them), however outside of that and being a public commentator, it's a bit pointless.

Or an actor. Or a politician. Or an athlete. Or a nonprofit. All of them benefit from strong social media game. AOC has much more political heft than say, Rashida Tlaib even though they're both freshman in Congress. AOC's 8x more followers on social media might have something to do with that.



I tried to run a vanity instagram account and my heart wasn't in it and it cost a lot of money.

Is paying money all it takes to speak at a conference? And does it really bring in 10x-100x ROI? I’m skeptical about that part and details were nebulous.

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