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When I was working as a psychologist many years ago, one of the phenomenon I often observed in my clients was that, when they were trying to change a behavior, or to grow some part of themselves, they would often move from one extreme to the other, before, ultimately, settling somewhere in the middle.

For instance, if a client was learning how to be more assertive, I’d often see that she’d move from being painfully quiet and shy- the proverbial doormat- to being almost aggressive, verging on hostile, as she tried out the new set of behaviors. This aggressive, hostile approach led to negative feedback, which caused the client to reconsider her approach- and soften it a bit, ultimately ending up somewhere in the middle- able to get along, but also to speak up for herself when needed.

When I think of this process, which we all go through, I think of it as a pendulum- swinging across the arc, one way, and then the other, eventually settling into a healthier groove.

This pedulum-swing process is something we’re seeing now, too, within the online marketing space and in social media. When the internet first began, there was always a focus on bigger, better, faster, in terms of “push a button here, and you’ll have money coming out of your computer faster than you can imagine.” With the advent of social media, we saw this mentality as well, with “I have thousands of fans, thousands of followers.” – now, though, I think the pendulum is swinging the other way, with people moving from size of network to engagement of network.

Stated another way, it’s not just size that matters anymore.

There are rumblings that people (shockingly!) actually want to be treated like people, not just numbers on your list, or “likes” on your fanpage.

And these rumblings represent opportunity for the savvy marketer.

If you’ve ever heard me speak, you know I consider Profitable Popularity to be the evolution of online marketing and social media. Now, the pendulum moves from “bigger, faster” to “deeper, richer.” Again, the ultimate goal is settle into a comfortable groove somewhere in the middle.

This graphic might help explain this concept better:

As marketers, our goal is to have high visibility with simultaneously high intimacy, in order to be profitably popular- that means Visibility + Intimacy = Profitability.

So, we’re moving away from sheer volume as a measure of online marketing success to the ratio of visibility to intimacy, and I think this is a much more useful measure.

If we look at people who are very well known, they have high visibility, clearly. And if you think a bit deeper, you’ll realize that the people you pay most attention to are both visible- and intimate. They share with you details of their lives, their opinions and thoughts- so you feel you know them as a person.

That’s the power of visibility + intimacy at work.

This means, in our marketing, we have to focus on both building good size networks- that’s the visibility- while connecting deeply with the people in our networks- that’s the intimacy.

You can build visibility and intimacy by using multi-channel marketing, creating content that begs to be shared, and always remembering that each person in your network- whether friend #501, or follower #50,001- is a person, one with real dreams, goals, hopes, and wishes.

When you build your marketing messages, speak to your community as if you’re speaking to individuals- because you are.

Focus on both sides of the pendulum arc: build high visibility while you simultaneously cultivate high intimacy with those in your community.

This is a key strategy to profitable popularity.