Is your Secret Fishing Hole Digital?

Technology changes constantly, but people have been people for millennia. From keeping the lid on a fishing hole to not sharing killer good content, human behaviour can be pretty predictable online or off.

To give you an example, I want to describe a conversation I had with a peer recently. She’s an ambitious thinker and an up-and-coming thought leader in the field of social media. She was feeling a little perplexed one day though because a post she wrote was getting an enormous number of views – but little in the way of shares or comments.

In fact, despite the fact that her readers seem to be enjoying her article, few of them had even bothered to engage her on it. What in the world, she wondered, could possibly be going on? It only took me a moment to figure the problem out: she had created the digital marketing equivalent of a fishing hole.

Having been raised in BC's interior, I know plenty of people that go fishing. I don’t just mean people who enjoy the occasional afternoon out on the lake, but those who are out regardless of the weather, rain, snow, sun, or hail. These folks tend to get a little bit competitive when it comes to describing their catches, and are very secretive about where they caught the big one.

So, when somebody finds a really good spot to hook a trophy, they don’t easily share the exact location. They know that as soon as they do, it will become over-fished and their advantage will be gone. Does any of this sound familiar?

In the world of digital marketing, people can trample over one another trying to get to the top. It’s no surprise, then, that readers will come across a new resource, greatly enjoy the work, but fail to pass it along. The last thing they want is for someone else to discover their latest secret.


That’s the essence of the fishing hole – it’s a great resource you don’t want anyone else to know about. You might not have been familiar with the term, but I bet you can at least relate to the idea. With that in mind, I would invite you to ask yourself a couple of questions…

1. Are you hiding your favourite digital fishing holes?

I would bet most of us have done this at least once or twice. I’ll certainly cop to the fact that I have in the past. As I mentioned, it’s human nature to want to get an edge, especially when it comes to the competitive world of digital marketing.

Protecting someone’s content comes with ramifications, though. For one thing, the thought leader isn’t encouraged when you don’t provide any shares or positive feedback, so they may stop sharing their awesome ideas in the future. That would be terrible.

Furthermore, you should be building a marketing platform that relies on your own strengths. If you’re doing things the right way, it doesn’t really matter whether your competitors see the same advice that you do. You should be using it in your own way (perhaps in an even better way) than others do, anyway.

And finally, the whole notion behind keeping your fishing hole a secret is based on a mindset of scarcity. Growth comes from doing the opposite. So, why keep it all to yourself when you can provide an opportunity for everyone to grow?

2. Have you created a fishing hole with your most excellent content?

This question is a little bit trickier. That’s because, as my friend pointed out so clearly, it’s not easy to tell whether others are ignoring what you’ve posted because it isn’t unique and compelling or because they like it so much they want it to stay a secret.

In the short term, the answer is to simply do your best to add a unique voice to your content and stay consistent with your marketing efforts. Over time, you’ll find your own niche, so it’s best not to agonize over the metrics of any single article or idea.

Longer-term, it doesn’t really matter whether readers are using your article as a fishing hole or not. If the strength of what you have to say can stand on its own, those in your industry (and beyond) are going to recognize it. Nothing stays a secret on the internet for long these days, especially not the thoughts of an innovative thinker who isn’t afraid to share their ideas or challenge assumptions.


The Bottom Line on Fishing Holes and Quality Content

I understand all too well the rationale behind keeping great ideas to yourself, but it’s not a strategy that works for very long and it diminishes all of us – both as marketers and human beings. So, if you come across something great on the internet, be sure to share it, and give credit to the original creator.

If, on the other hand, you suspect others have been using your content as a fishing hole, take it as a compliment. Even if the first few readers are reluctant to spread the word on your behalf, sooner or later word will get out.

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