The Overnight Success Of A Social Media Cynic
The Overnight Success Of A Social Media Cynic
The Overnight Success Of A Social Media Cynic

Bob Hoffman is one of those guys you love and hate all in the same breath. At least he is for me. Longtime author of the amazingly thought-provoking blog The Ad Contrarian, Hoffman bemoans bad advertising, berates ad industry idiosyncrasies, but also spends an awful lot of time bashing social media.

I had the honor (though at times I’ve questioned that label) of serving on a panel discussion with Bob once. It was at an advertising conference a few years back. I recall him trying to call bullshit on social media as a whole and me throwing it back at him as best I could coming from a relative neophyte in the marketing world.

(Bob is old. He’s run his own ad agency for 20 years. He’s so old he only has one job listed on his LinkedIn profile. We’re not sure if it’s because he never held one or that he forgot what came before he owned his own agency.)

Ad ContrarianWhether or not I won him over that day, I’ve read almost every word he’s written on his blog since. The guy is flat brilliant. And he calls a spade a spade. I guess we’re cut from similar cloth. (Though unlike his, mine was probably produced using machines that ran on electricity rather than burrows.)

As he is apt to do, Bob made a most important point about social media recently with his post, “My Overnight Success In Social Media.” In it, he explained how he produced the 2nd best-selling advertising eBook on Amazon in a span of just 18 hours. I wanted to share with you how he became such an “overnight success” to help illustrate a point, but also to let you know you should probably buy the book. I’ve read it. It’s awesome.

Here’s how he did it, quoting from the list he blogged that day:

  1. First I wrote and published a book called The Ad Contrarian. This took a couple of years.
  2. Next I started a blog called The Ad Contrarian.
  3. Then I spent virtually every Saturday morning for five years roughing out ideas for Ad Contrarian blog posts.
  4. For almost five years I spent at least two hours a day — usually between 3 and 5 am — writing my blog.
  5. I also spent at least an hour every day scouring online and offline sources for blog post ideas.
  6. I wrote several articles for trade publications sticking assiduously to my “Ad Contrarian” POV.
  7. As a result, I developed a nice body of subscribers for my blog. I try to keep it fresh, entertaining, and controversial to attract non-subscribers every day.
  8. Although I have several thousand Twitter followers, I act to maintain credibility by only tweeting about the blog when there is something I believe is unusually interesting in it.
  9. To develop credibility among my readers, I have never used my blog to promote my agency.
  10. In order to advance The Ad Contrarian I have traveled frequently to do speaking engagements and never accepted money.

Every person or company that has achieved some case study of success in social media has a similar story. If they don’t, then they’ve done something unscrupulous to invent their success that we probably wouldn’t recommend.

Not a single person I’ve talked to about social media marketing in the last five years isn’t looking for an easy button. The problem is that there’s not one. You will have to work at it. You will have to build an audience. You will have to hone your craft of communicating through these channels. You will have to rinse and repeat. And it still may not be the astounding success you were hoping for.

But not a bit of that isn’t true for other communications channels. Sure, you can throw a lot of money at television advertisements (or other channels, too) and drive numbers in the short term. But you’re never going to achieve the kind of success that grabs people, sinks your brand into their consciences and gives you long-term stability without putting in the hours, doing the dance and getting the work done.

Stop looking for the easy button. That and other flashes of brilliance can be found in 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising by Bob Hoffman. You should buy it (it’s $0.99 for chrissakes). While you’re at it, go subscribe to his blog, too. For you social media enthusiasts, it’ll piss you off more often than not, but it will make you think and, frankly, that’s a good thing.

And if you want something a bit more direct about building a social media strategy, there’s a book for that, too.

NOTE: None of the links here are affiliate links.

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About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at
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  • I always thought that “social media” was just a lot of hype…boy am I wrong.  Over time I have realize that “social media” is key…along with hard work.  I like this post. Thanks

  • wog

    I was inspired by this. And i enjoyed reading this. I have realized a lot of things about social media. Thanks for the post.

  • Hi Jason, Came to your blog via a John Haydon tweet. I love the content, but find the font really difficult to read. Did you ever think of changing it to something more easy on the eyes? Has anyone else had the same problem?  Maybe just making the font black rather than gray would help. 
    And thanks for the intro to Bob Hoffman. I just had to post a Facebook link to his December message from God.

    • Thanks Gunnar. I’ll have my designer look at it, but never had anyone complain about the font. The blockquote is a little problematic, I agree, but the regular font doesn’t seem to bother anyone else to my knowledge.

      • I think the font lacks contrast. It is not easy to read for me. For instance, when I type this comment, it is nice, contrasting and very legible. When, I send off the post and it shows on your comment section, it changes to a very loose and tint-less blur. (Maybe I am getting old..hehehe).

        And the block-quote….Don’t get me started…..That fortunately you already realize :-)It is easy enough to get good legible fonts in the WP  and Thesis..To give an example of a blog that is is easy to read, check – who sent me here in the first place. 

        • Jason, Looks like you changed font. It looks fantastic now! Great job!

  • bob hoffman


    Your $10,000 is in the mail.




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