Principles: The Butterfly EffectAug 31, 2021
In March 1963, American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz published a paper in which he established the basis of chaos theory.
He argued that a tiny change in the initial conditions of a weather model can create a significantly different outcome. Later, Lorenz described what would be forever known as the butterfly effect: the idea that small changes can have large consequences.
The flaps of a butterfly’s wings can set off a chain of events that will result in a tornado being formed on the other side of the planet.
And this is the very force that made me realize just how powerful our blogging efforts can be.
The Power of One
I launched my first blog in April 2012. During my first month of blogging, I earned $1.05 and got around 500 views.
I was promoting my blog like crazy during those first few weeks, engaging with as many bloggers as possible, commenting and liking articles, doing my best to build relationships and leverage those relationships.
On June the 6th, I wrote and published an article. One of my 106 followers shared it on Twitter, where it just exploded in popularity. My article went viral.
Let me explain.
The person who shared the article on their Twitter feed had over half a million followers. Their share got picked up by a couple of other high-profile accounts, including Random House, and within 24 hours I had more than 1,700 views on that article alone, well over 100 comments, and even the person I was mentioning in my article (a writer), left a comment.
How to Use This:
The inherent chaos of the blogging world can be overwhelming at times.
Also, our struggle to effectively promote can cause a lack of mental clarity. In the face of what seems to be an impossible task, it’s well worth remembering that even seemingly irrelevant efforts can have an impressive impact.
We take advantage of the butterfly effect by, first, taking care of our mindset:
- There’s no way to predict the chain of events that even small efforts can unleash.
- Little by little, a little tends to become a lot, the same way a piece of domino can provoke a chain reaction.
- Patience is a virtue. This is worth internalizing, as we must understand that results aren’t instantaneous, especially in the case of the chain reactions provoked by small efforts.
Getting your mindset right before starting a marketing campaign can help you better understand the importance (and, why not, the validity) of small efforts.
As an example, a blogger may struggle to comment and engage other bloggers. The results, in terms of referral traffic, may not even be available to them. However, in this case, there are a couple of aspects that we must understand: in most cases, just as a blog post, a comment is forever available on the web, meaning that it can attract new visitors to a blog for as long as the comment is online.
Ignore the stats
We often look at statistics as a marker for success. In the case of the butterfly effect, however, our efforts are so small that they first appear to be futile.
Statistics will often invalidate these efforts, especially in the short run, and we must be aware of this in order to move forward.
Understand the consequences
Another important aspect is that we must try to understand the consequences and ramifications of each of our marketing efforts.
In our previous example of a blogger commenting on other blogs, it’s well worth considering that, besides the cold-truth provided by statistics, each unique visitor that is brought to their blog through a comment also has influence over a number of people.
This, in turn, means that statistics often fail to provide us with a long-term understanding of how our efforts will impact our marketing.
We may only be able to build a relationship with one influencer/blogger, yet their fan base can be impressive.
We may be investing a lot of time, energy, and/or financial resources on campaigns that appear to be worth it, without being aware that our best results might come from small efforts if only given enough time to propagate through an entire network of people.
Word of mouth marketing is, for this reason, still a powerful strategy. It simply enables you to hijack other people’s circles of influence without any direct interaction.
Little by Little
When considering the butterfly effect, it’s worth understanding that even seemingly futile efforts are worth the time and energy, for they can yield tremendous results, especially in the long run.
Whenever you design a marketing campaign, regardless of your niche/industry, consider all the possible ramifications of even the smallest efforts, and try to figure out if low-effort campaigns that might not put a strain on you financially could lead to better results.
While we cannot truly understand chaos, let alone harness it, we can, just as the case of inversion, prepare ourselves mentally for it and design an attitude that will help us in the long run.
This is a lesson from our course, Principles of Blogging.
Highly successful bloggers don’t look for shortcuts. They use specific frameworks — timeless mental models that allow them to gain a birds-eye view of the blogging ecosystem and better understand their own journey towards the blogging stratosphere.
Without deploying these models, you may continue to spin your wheels and feel like everything is a grind. With them, things won’t be easy, but they’ll be more fun, creative, and vastly more effective.
Unlike the hacks, tricks, and tactics you’re used to reading about… these principles are timeless. These are rules for life. Rules of persuasion. Rules of marketing. Mental models. Practical philosophical principles.
There’s no expiration date for the timeless wisdom that’s been tested and applied across a multitude of fields for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
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