In many ways, the blogosphere can be like the HBO show “Game of Thrones”: a backstabbing world where opinions can make or break you and controversy can destroy your career. Successful bloggers know that no one is immune and integrity can come at a price.
And just like on the show, people with good intentions don’t always survive and cold-hearted leaders sometimes win the day. Here are 9 mistakes from “Game of Thrones” characters that can teach us how to be better bloggers.
Top 9 Influencer Mistakes You Can Learn to Avoid from “Game of Thrones”
1. Forgetting your tribe
In the Season 5 finale of “Game of Thrones,” Jon Snow pays the ultimate price for losing sight of his companions in the Night’s Watch while trying to save lives. If you are so focused on “the big picture” – income from your blog, your time in the spotlight, sharing your inspirational story – that you neglect your audience, you have made the same key error that got Jon killed.
While your goals as a professional blogger are critical, your tribe is your most important concern. Putting your readers first should always be your top priority. Personally, I know that my favorite emails are not the lucrative offers from great companies, but the moms who I have helped get through another day. Here are 12 ways to understand your audience.
2. Trusting people you don’t know well
Sansa has suffered a lot this season, mainly because she put her trust in Littlefinger and ended up married to a man so evil he made Joffrey look like a good guy. She was too inexperienced to understand that his motives were not altruistic. Don’t let this happen to you.
Recently, a big name blogger was found out to be scamming people out of hundreds of dollars. If you are working with new or unfamiliar brands and bloggers, you should research them to see if people have complaints, slow payment or other issues.
You should also create your own contracts and, when you can put it in your budget, seek legal advice for unpaid bills, lost investments and a damaged brand. Learn what to do if someone steals your brand.
3. Putting yourself first
Arya learns a hard lesson as she uses her assassin skills to take revenge, rather than adhering to the philosophy of forgetting herself. While we are striving to build a career as influencers, we must learn to use our skills to serve our audience rather than ourselves.
In the past, I have blogged for some brands that were not quite a fit with my blog. While it brought in income, I risked losing readership.
When choosing products and campaigns for your blog and social media stream, don’t think about your own wants and desires but your audience instead. Learn how to go from personal blogger to embracing your niche with your audience in mind.
4. Getting too cocky
In the finale, Khaleesi takes a victorious flight with her wounded dragon and ends up stranded and surrounded by a new threat. Her pride continually gets in the way of taking sensible measures and making the hard choices that come with her desire for leadership.
We all ride high on the successes of the blogging life but no one wants to hear you brag or badmouth others. If you’d like to share helpful tips, that’s wonderful but telling the whole world about 1000’s of dollars in product just to show yourself off or name calling PR reps that you think are difficult will put you in danger of being out of business. Learn the best practices for working with brands and bloggers.
5. Betraying those who trust you
Theon’s torture and transformation into Reek was difficult enough, but even after admitting he deserved what he got, Sansa still couldn’t trust or forgive him. Betraying friends and family is unthinkable for most people, but have you betrayed your reader’s trust by misleading them?
A few years back, I blogged about how my faith helped me raised a child with autism, but I tweeted it as help for moms struggling with kids with special needs. I got a lot of hits but surveyed some people and they were NOT happy at that misrepresentation.
I was ashamed and red faced – but learned a valuable lesson. Sharing posts with tweets that do not accurately reflect them is a betrayal of your audience. Learn why people hate social media promotion and how to promote successfully.
6. Thinking controversy is always a good thing
Cersei’s plan to use the controversial fringe group, the Sparrows, to control her son’s wife backfired and landed her in prison, tortured, starved and publicly humiliated. A little controversy on your blog or Facebook page is a good thing, but before you take a stand on the latest hot topic, review the comments that others have endured on this subject.
When you see posts and comments that you do not want to deal with, you should avoid those controversies. Instead, here are 5 other ways to spice up a boring blog.
7. Don’t let your mouth get you into trouble
Everyone loves Tyrion, but I think we’ve had enough of him almost losing his life because he can’t keep his mouth shut or letting common sense get in the way of his desires, from reckless drunkspeak to murdering his father. Today, saying the wrong thing on social media can kill your career.
In 2012, Lindsay Stone posted a picture of herself giving the finger in front of a “Silence and Respect” sign at the Arlington National Cemetery, where U.S. veterans are buried. She quickly lost her job and all semblance of a normal life.
Whether or not you agree with what happened to her, this is a cautionary tale for all influencers to be careful of what they post online and when (for example, after too many drinks or too much cold medicine). Here is a better way to build up your reputation as a thought leader.
8. Don’t bank on your own assumptions
Melisandre, the Red Priestess, was confident that sacrificing Shireen would bring about Stannis’ victory, but it only brought mutiny and a failed attack, leaving the entire army dead.
You may have a great path laid out ahead for your career as an influencer but don’t make goals based on things you have not achieved yet.
This year, I applied to several speaking gigs and had another offered. I was confident that I would land one of them and made some goals for my blog based on that.
To my surprise, I didn’t land any of them but another direction did open up for my career. Fortunately, my goals were easily altered to accommodate the change. Learn the better way to make blogging part of your business growth plan.
9. Don’t abandon your friends and family for success
Stannis’ belief that becoming king was his true destiny made him destroy the thing he loved the most: his daughter. Are you sacrificing your family’s needs to have a successful career? Have you set boundaries, or is any topic or any image worthwhile to ensure you land the job or impress your client?
If you haven't already, it’s time to establish clear lines between loved ones and your career. Becoming an influencer rock star will have little meaning without someone to share your success.
I set clear boundaries for what I post and my work time. While I’m with my family, I make sure I maintain my focus on them while I’m with them. Learn time management tips to be more productive with your work time.
If you influence with integrity, keep your eyes on your audience and know who to trust, you won’t run the risk of killing your career before it even starts.