3 Tips For Avoiding The “Rational Ignorance” Of Social Media


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Has rational ignorance impacted your organization’s social media activity yet? Rational ignorance is the decision not to become more informed about something because the perceived cost of the additional intelligence — in terms of both effort and expense — is more than the expected return on the knowledge gained.

It kicks in for most of us when we believe we have reached the point of diminishing returns in relation to the value of acquiring additional insight. More than likely, your organization started its social media journey with great excitement and a willingness to invest and learn. Now that the honeymoon is over, most of your staff missed the profile page changes on LinkedIn, and it’s been months since they tweeted.

The concept of rational ignorance, while popping up on a daily basis for most of us, is particularly consequential to a social media strategy because the social media ecosystem is still evolving at a rapid pace. In short, we now live in an age when the most important marketing skill set is the ability to keep our social marketing knowledge relevant and up-to-date. Yes, as the saying goes, there was a time. And indeed, there was a time when knowledge of the 4 P’s of marketing – product, place, price, and promotion — was a sound, long-term investment. These campaign strategies seemed straight forward and predictable. But that was then and this is now.

So, with the help of Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline” here are three resolutions for 2013 I intend to focus on in order to keep rational ignorance from infecting my team.

1. Build a stronger shared vision about social media: Genuine caring about a shared vision is rooted in personal visions. I’ll be spending more time this year helping each of my team members build and nurture an even stronger vision of the personal branding benefits of social media — and how those personal visions join to create our shared vision.

2. Declare my training support: Training is one of the most important ways for a marketing team to keep their social media skills up to date. I’ll let my team know how vital training is to me and personally conduct “practice” sessions to hone our social media process and technology skills.

3. Enrollment, not selling: I’m a salesperson at heart. That means I have a tendency to try to “convince” my audience of the benefits of a vision. As I focus on vision and training with my team I need to make sure I turn down my need to persuade in order to let them have time to develop their own sense of vision.

I’m betting the year on a shared vision and building a learning organization. Where are you placing your bets?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. I see rational ignorance as operating the OTHER way in social media. It’s a process of NOT looking at evidence and data that clearly indicates that at least in terms of customer service, social media is failing a large majority of companies.
    I see what you describe happening in social media, yes, as a result of its losing its novelty, but also that those people stepping away are in fact less “rationally ignorant” than those that are continuing on a path that was started on hype and hope rather than data.


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