Should you follow Leo Laporte?


No, I don't mean "should you follow his podcasts and commentary". Clearly you should. 

If you're an active RSS user, following Leo is simple: Here's the RSS feed for Leo's TWiT shows. Here's the RSS feed for Leo's micro-blog posts. And definitely frequent Leo's website.

What I mean is this: Leo announced in a blog post today that he's stopped using Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. (He had previously dumped Facebook and Instagram, and yesterday stopped using Twitter and Tumblr.)

Anyone who watches or listens to Leo's TWiT netcasts knows why. Leo is simply opting out of the manipulative, privacy-invading aspects of social media. And for Twitter in particular, removing the "daily spew of outrage and bile" from his life. Because, really, who needs it? 

Should I follow Leo down this path? Should you? 

A few years ago, this would have been crazy talk. Back then, social sites weren't nearly as objectionable as they are today. And you could build huge audiences on social. At some point, Leo was the number-one user on Twitter, and the life of social networking influencers was good. 

Nowadays, it's almost impossible to build an enormous audience on social without a pre-existing platform. Still, the belief persists that everybody needs to be on social to build an audience. 

Which brings us back to the question. Should we all follow Leo back to our blogs and streams that we own and control, rather than the ones that Zuck, Jack and their ilk control for their own purposes? 

With each passing day, I'm growing more convinced that the answer is: Yes. 

Sure, it's easy to dismiss Leo's actions as coming from a place of privilege. He's already got a massive platform based on his TWiT netcasts. He doesn't need social networks like the rest of us do.

But it seems to me that if you don't already have a big following on social, you're not going to get one. I'm sorry, but the days of growing a platform on the social sites from scratch are over. And even with the followings we all do have now, the noise and attention-grabbing stuff out there boils down our actively engaged audiences to a tiny number compared with the number listed.

It's better to go back to basics. Build your own blog. Play it for the search engines. Offer content that people can "follow" by subscribing, as with RSS feeds and email newsletters. 

No, this approach is unlikely to make you a super influencer circa 2014. But at least you can slowly attract real fans, and own and control the fruits of your labor. 

I've been saying for years that what I want from a social network is to follow people, and get what those people post. Because of manipulative and self-serving algorithms and policies at the major social sites, that doesn't exist anymore. So it's up to each of us to build our own.