Let’s face it. Social media is a big, huge bandwagon and everyone seems to be jumping on it these days.

I’ve recently done a huge purge of my Google Reader. I had to. The number of “look at me, I’m a social media expert too!” posts clogging my personal Intertubes were getting so out of hand that I was on the verge of hostility every time I opened my Reader app.

Have we really run out of original things to say when it comes to social media? I get that there are lots of people who are seeing the potential business opportunity that exists for the average consultant that gets social media. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t count myself in that mix.

However, I think there is a big difference between selling oneself as someone who can teach people how to tweet (hint: it’s not that hard), and someone who can help people become better communicators in a digital world.

So what’s a digital maven to do? Well, I think it starts by spending less time getting caught up in the hype, and more time thinking about what you really want to achieve.

Find your own voice

Original thought is a wonderful thing. The problem is, many so-called social media “experts” are so entranced by the popularity of social media that they can’t see the forest for the SEO keywords.

When was the last time you shut off your Hootsuite Twitter search for the #socialmedia hashtag and just spent time in the stream of people you follow? The other day I tweeted what I was having for lunch, and got into a great conversation with some new people about food and inspiration. I connected and engaged and learned more in that 15 minutes than I’ve learned in 6 weeks of surfing the sea of social media drivel that exists in most of those canned searches.

You’ll only find your own voice if you stop listening to the drone of the masses and start focusing on other people. Learn by doing. Sure, read the smart people, but put what they say into practice, instead of blindly following and RT’ing the buzzword of the day.

Change the conversation

Frankly, I am feeling a bit stuck inside the current conversations around social media. Maybe it’s because I’m an oldtimer (I’ve been a social media nerdgirl since 2006), but more likely it’s because I’m being so bombarded by the “me too” conversation these days.

Fortunately, because of the nature of the digital world, I have the power to change the conversation I am having. I can filter out the “become a social media guru for $99 with no effort!” conversation. I can mute the hashtags for the social media Twitter chat du jour. I can unsubscribe from blogs and newsletters that don’t serve me any longer. I can attend events like PAB2012 this weekend, where I can be in a room of people who are more focused on connecting with each other and their shared passion for creating brilliant content than on their Klout scores or FourSquare mayorships.

We all have the power to change the conversation we are having, and to avoid falling into the “me too” trap. You get to choose your voice in this space, and you get to shape the conversation. Uniqueness and original thought is what wins out here. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s anything different.

Now go forth and be you.

3 Responses

  1. Sounds like a disorganized Google Reader problem more than something inherit in social media culture.

    Being more discerning from day 1 is the actual key to avoiding it, this article doesn’t really teach prevention (avoid) it teaches intervention (unfollow).

    1. Actually my Google Reader is meticulously organized, thanks. At the end of the day, content is king, and if the content is bad (and that’s my opinion, because good content can be quite subjective), then even the most organized system will not yield valuable results.

      I am quite discerning in what I choose to follow actually. The thing is, content in this space evolves and changes rapidly over time, and the trick is to keep up with it. Avoidance is ongoing, as is intervention.

  2. I haven’t been at this nearly as long as you Sue but I would tend to agree!

    In terms of Google Reader, you don’t know what’s out there and what people are posting until you do and then, I think it’s a constant refining process of who you want to listen to and who provokes original thought – you watch, you listen for a while. By doing this, it can then lead you to your own opinions, thoughts and voice. And then you purge… rinse and repeat. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *