Ramblings on Social Media

I’ve been lurking around the social web for quite some time experimenting with different systems and learning a tremendous amount from all of the ‘experts’ out there.

I’ve been on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Technorati and many many other systems.  I liked some and didn’t like some.

I recently started using Twitter (@ericdbrown) and Friendfeed (find me here) to get a good feel for what these systems are all about. Twitter seems to be all the rage these days and has gone from a small-ish audience to a large mass-market audience.   I think Friendfeed has a lot of value but think it will take some time to catch on.

The more I interact on these systems, the more frustrated I get with the proclamations that “Social Media” is the answer to our problems. The first real issue that frustrates me is that we all have different problems…but let’s ignore that for now.

Let’s assume that we have a marketing problem and need a better way to reach our clients. This is a perfect use for the tools in the Social Media toolbox. But we need to remember that they are tools…not the answer to the problem.

Back to the use of SM in your marketing problem. You’ve heard about Facebook.  You’ve heard about Twitter.  So…you open a Facebook account and a Twitter account.

Now what?  Well…you’re on Facebook and Twitter. You’ve done what “they’ve” told you to do….you’ve opened an account.  You’ve made ‘friends’ and you’ve posted some things.  But you aren’t seeing much from your efforts.  Why aren’t your clients knocking your doors down?

Well…if you did it ‘right’, you would have people knocking down your door….but most organizations & people don’t do it right. Most people get on these platforms and post promotional material and links back to their websites or marketing-speak laden material.   If you are going to get on these platforms, you’ve got to be real and interactive.  You’ve got to embrace the community out there.

This blog post isn’t about ‘how to do it right’…lord knows I’m not a Social Media expert.  Go read Chris Brogan, Giovanni Gallucci or the many other experts out there.

This blog post is just a reminder to the few folks that stumble upon it that Social Media is a tool.  Social Media should be part of your overall strategy for reaching your clients. Social Media isn’t the answer.

Let’s look at Twitter and Friendfeed again as examples.

Twitter is fun. There are some great people on there and some great content being shared. Heck, Twitter has turned into a citizen journalism tool (note the recent US Airways crash in NYC…news first broke across Twitter with the first pic from the scene – more here).  Twitter is going mainstream fast.  If you aren’t on Twitter, you will probably will be before end of 2009.

Friendfeed may be the next ‘big’ SM tool but the jury is still out on it to see if the mainstream users pick it up.  Scoble loves Friendfeed, I like Friendfeed too but I still see a lot of people trying to grasp what it can be used for.

The thing that many people miss with Twitter and Friendfeed and all other Social Media is that they are tools.Tools to be used to communicate with people who wish to receive communication in that manner.  What about the millions of people that aren’t using those tools.  How will you reach them?  How will you reach through the noise on these platforms to reach your target(s)?

These tools, and all other tools, are great as long as we remember that they are tools.  Tools to be used to share your message.  Tools to build your brand and client base. Tools to communicate with your community.

Social Media isn’t the answer…its a tool to be used to find the answer.  Social Media is a tool to be used to share your message.  Just remember to make your message simple and honest.  Make your message authentic and it will connect with people regardless of what tools you use.  Authenticity will reach through the noise and connect.

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