A few thoughts on Michael Hyatt’s new book, Platform
I picked up Michael Hyatt’s new book this week, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Honestly, I’d just love to keep my head down and write, but that’s not going to lead me to success. So I keep an eye out for books like Mr. Hyatt’s and Amazon recommended it to me. I was pretty disappointed with it.
I’m not sure what to make of books like this. They always sound like some well-meaning person has just discovered some of the most obvious things about the internet and writes a book to share all the wonders they’ve discovered, because to that person, they’re truly novel. I don’t think I’m the target audience.
I did find some parts of the book interesting. Early on, he talks about writing down your goals and that’s intriguing to me. Seems like a good exercise, if nothing else. But he loses a lot of credibility with me along the way.
- In chapter 37, he talks about promoting older posts. That’s fine, and not bad advice, but he mentions that he uses Socialoomph.com to “schedule tweets” about these older posts on a sort of 90 day loop. SocialOomph looks like you’d expect, like it’s one of those applications sitting in the nether between genuine users and social media marketers who are always looking for some way to take advantages of ecosystems like Twitter. Trouble is that repeating tweets on an automated schedule is against Twitter’s TOS. SocialOomph even said they’ve disallowed this at Twitter’s request, so I’m not sure Mr. Hyatt really knows what’s going on here.
- That wasn’t the first sign that things were a little off. This is small, but in the chapter on generating post ideas, he described a blog post as a blog itself, actually saying someone “wrote a blog for the Disney Parks Blog…” I found that weird, finding that Mr. Hyatt’s claimed expertise for writing this book was that he’d grown his own blog to such fantastic heights, so I just thought he should speak the language a little more natively. You write a blog and your blog is a collection of posts or articles. Referring to a single post as a “blog” in and of itself is confusing.
- Mr. Hyatt seems to be pretty successful and while I know from the book one of his goals was to make “$100,000″ a year doing what he loved, I gather he makes much more than that now. This may have put him just a little out of touch, which is a real danger when you fall high on the income curve, though. He constantly mentions the plugins and services he uses, and how he hired designers even to create something as simple as an email template in Mailchimp. I wonder how many can afford the level of assistance Mr. Hyatt’s been able to buy to help propel his success. He even says he spends about $1,000 a month just on his blog. At the number of pageviews he’s generating every month, I’m sure his blog is pretty expensive to maintain (and his Mailchimp account probably cost in the $400 a month range, though I don’t know if that’s included in the $1,000 a month figure), but I can’t help but wonder what he’s spending all that money on. Is he still using shared hosting technology from the late 90s? I can’t imagine Rackspace would cost $1,000 a month to host a WordPress blog, and even at his size, I bet a couple virtual servers on Amazon’s Web Services platform could cut that cost significantly, considering the first server is free. Anyway, my point is I’m not sure Mr. Hyatt truly understands the mere advantage having the resources to spend $1,000 a month on a blog or being able to afford the professional designers and plugins and templates he uses is to him. A little more nuance here could’ve gone a long way, because he almost makes his success seem out of reach for the average person just getting started. To the average person, $1000 a month is a house payment, not a blog.
- This one really got to me. At the end of the book, he recounts attending a Tony Robbins seminar and the experience of—at Robbins’ urging—walking on hot coals. It’s true that you can walk on coals if they’re prepared right and you move quickly, coal isn’t a good heat conductor, but the best you can hope for is still first- and second-degree burns. Not long ago, almost two-dozen people were burned after walking on hot coals at one of Robbin’s seminars, because they believed that it has something to do with inner fortitude or mind over matter or whatever bullshit Robbins sells vulnerable people to make money. It’s dangerous, and why anyone would think that they need to risk severe and almost certain injury in the name of self-improvement is beyond me. That Mr. Hyatt seems to roundly buy into this left me with a pretty icky feeling.
There’s more. I’m used to marketing books like this being field with vague generalities (create a compelling product, bake in the wow) and few actions steps, but at least Mr. Hyatt spends very little time on these vague claims and delves into the specifics of blogging and using Twitter (though he seems to lack any real understanding of Facebook). The specifics though, are meant for the novice, whether Mr. Hyatt indented them to or not. If you fall into that category, you’ll probably be able to take away a lot more than I did.
After I finished, I went back and had a look at the endorsements for the book and, I’m not going to get into here, but let’s just say that some of the people singing his praises don’t have my respect. I’m wondering, now, if Mr. Hyatt’s success has more to do with his business position and money, than it does any particular knowledge of new media.