Social Media – Ur Doin' it Wrong

I see that IZEA is has gotten into the sponsored tweets biz. I see that Mashable has some mixed feelings about it.

This is not going to be a post about whether the business ventures that Ted Murphy and his gang are getting into are right or wrong. It’s not going to be a post about what Mashable or anyone else in the social mediaverse thinks about it.  If you want to hear the opinions of the greater Web, the comments on Mashable’s post above will definitely give you that, and it’s recommended reading for anyone interested in the subject.

This is a post about social media and how we’re all doing it wrong. It’s not this post, though. Chris already did that post. And he’s right about lots of the things we’re doing wrong, so listen to him. Or not.

What we’re doing wrong is not entirely about the “how” we’re doing it. It’s also a big part about the “what” we’re doing.

We’re building entire businesses around social media. Social media is not a business model. Just like television, or radio, or newspapers aren’t in and of themselves business models. Social media is a medium, just like those other things. It adds a new dimension to the word “media”. The social part. It’s different from those traditional mediums because it’s not just me listening, or watching, or reading. It’s me conversing, creating, and teaching. It’s you, doing the same. Social media is not THEM and US. It’s US and US. And because it’s about us, we can build opportunities. But we can’t make the medium itself the opportunity. Guess McLuhan was right. Want to make a living in social media? Stop trying to make the medium work for you. Instead, work within the medium.

We’re telling others how they should do things. Even though some of us have been messing around with this stuff for what seems like years, social media is still in its infancy. (Ok, well maybe it’s a toddler now.) The point is, it’s all still very new to many people. I talked to someone the other day who had never heard of Twitter (gasp!). As media and communications professionals, we are up to our necks in this stuff every day, because it’s our business to understand it. Or, perhaps we just like it because it interests us, you know, like knitting is an interest.

We sit up here on our pedestals and we tell others that they must do it this way or that way if they want to be successful. That the only way to do it right is to be constantly connecting with people; that just listening is not acceptable. That using this tool or that tool will give you an advantage over others in terms of getting your message heard. Like it’s some kind of big contest.

What I love about social media is that it’s a “choose your own adventure” medium. You can use it however you like. You can have purely social interactions. You can do business. You can help the greater good. You can just listen if you like. Are there techniques you can implement to maximize your efficiency, and better meet the goals you have? Absolutely. But it’s YOUR experience. So make what you want of it.

We’re forgetting why we’re doing this. Ironically, I first learned about social media at an in-person event – a Podcamp.  I already had an idea about some of the tools, but I mostly showed up out of curiosity as to what all these people were doing talking about podcasting and social networks and blogging and such. The in-person experience I had there guided my online experience. The friends I made that first time I still have today. I’ve made many, many more since then.

People – it’s about the people. We are all here together, sharing this space, having experiences, learning, growing, and connecting. We’re using technology as an interface to our interaction. The tools are here to make it easier, but they are not why we’re here. Too often we get caught up in the tools, and too often others get left out because they are made to believe that one has to be a computer whiz or have the guidance of an “expert” in order to participate. It’s simply not true.

So repeat after me: It’s not about the tools. It’s not about the tools. It’s not about the tools.

So what this post isn’t about is what you aren’t doing right (huh?).

It’s about what we keep trying. And how we keep making it work. And forgetting about all the other stuff.

But wait – maybe me, and Ted Murphy from IZEA, and Pete Cashmore from Mashable – we’re just doing it wrong. Or we’re doing it right – in our own ways.

Category:social media
The Art of the Gimmick
Breaking the Email Habit


  • August 4, 2009 at 9:27 am

    A wise colleague recently stated “the internet is the wild, wild west and there ain’t no sheriff in sight”. I agree. There are no rules. There should be no ‘rules’. Let the end user community self police. There will be ‘bloodshed’. There will be amazing frontiers discovered and communities forged. All in good time. Organically. The internet, within which SM is a microcosm, is an ecosystem that will evolve. Some may not appreciate what evolves. The best any of can do is influence the process. Nurture that which we find valuable. Ignore or avoid that which is undesirable. There is plenty of territory to be ‘claimed’.
    My personal fear is the critical thinkers are fewer in number than those who become mindless, cult followers of the ‘shiny new object’.

  • August 4, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Very nice Sue. I am 100% in agreement on just about all of your latest Muse…

    Classic Darwinian Evolution is often described as “Survival of the fittest” That description could not be more wrong, and was never said by Charles Darwin or Alfred Russel Wallace.

    A more fitting synopsis would be:

    In the evolutionary game if you can produce offspring you win. There are no other rules, just innovation and strategy. If you your progeny can manage to pull off a string of wins for millions of years you might improve, stay the same, get worse, or suddenly vanish. The Universe does not care.

    Same rule applies to the cloud we call the web, except it’s evolving at warp speed…

    As for the latest Twitter Bru Ha Ha, I quote Mr Paul Simon: “Who am I to blow against the wind?”

    Or this gem from Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin in reaction to a “This post sucks” comment: “The scroll bar is your friend.”

    And now for a little Darwin trivia: Charles darwin was a middle child, a born mediator. In all of the existing personal and official logs from his voyages on the Beagle, he was the only member of the crew that not one person wrote anything negative about!

    Given that this voyage lasted for years in the most difficult of circumstances, that is a true measure of the man.

    Source: CBC’s DNTO episode: Brotherly (and sisterly) love (07/25/09)
    [rq=254166,0,blog][/rq]Rideau Canal Flotilla NN Full Res

  • August 4, 2009 at 10:07 am

    What I enjoyed about the web in 1992-93-94-95 -maybe through 2000 was how personal everything was. Websites were prayers (one woman wrote an account of the death of her mother for no reason other than the experience would be ‘up there’).

    Pages were hand-crafted.

    But gradually MS & Mosaic, & Yahoo & Google started to control information and then they controlled what information and how folks should act because they had to ‘maintain’ and designating our modus operandi was useful to them.

    Keep the web open to person adventure – maintain the sense of a ‘wing and a prayer’ Be adventurous. Be radical, individual, independent.

    Good post.
    [rq=254451,0,blog][/rq]Nothing is happening

  • August 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Oh! And one other thing.. Why doesn’t Facebook & Twitter offer view and click-through metrics and stats like Flickr? TwitPick at least gives raw view counts.

    I would like to know if I am talking to myself, or if posts I am trying like my Lunch, Photo and Link of the day experiments are popular.

    Facebook “Comments” and “Like” features provide good feedback, but I have had photos and videos viewed by over 500 people in 24 hours with no one leaving comments on Flickr but I can track where they came from and look for feedback there. That tells me how my publicity strategies are working and/or if I am on to something

    So: Am I “Doin’ it Wrong” or Right Sue?
    [rq=254993,0,blog][/rq]Rideau Canal Flotilla NN Full Res

  • August 4, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    My reading this post is an excellent example of how social media can work. I click on a link from a tweet from Deb Dobson who had RT Danny Brown who RT Suze Muse.

    As a relatively new guy on the block in the land of Twitter, this article gives some great insight. The biggest fear someone new has, is that they don’t know what to do. If it is kept simple, ie, have conversations with people you are interested in, it keeps it bare bones.

    The problem is when we see people with 30k followers and wonder why they followed me? Certainly not because they are interested in what I have to say. This dynamic creates a bit of fear that this is just another (spam) in wolves clothes.

    At first, I thought my influence would be judged by others based on number of followers. Now, I am looking to be important to those that truly have an interest.

    I actually went through my following list, and deleted a large number of people. Amazing thing happened. I started to see tweets from people I was missing (like this one) on topics I actually wanted to talk about.

    Hope I didn’t overstep here. Not an expert. Just a guy looking in to figure this all out.
    [rq=256900,0,blog][/rq]It’s the Economy Stupid, I Mean, Son

  • August 4, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Great analogy Sue. Remember how thrilled people got when a friend of a friend said they liked show X on 12 or 22, and they didn’t know you worked there?

    The smartest thing Rogers TV Vice President, Colette Watson ever did (of too many to count IMHO. She is not a people person by any means but is so good at her job it’s just scary!) was to spend the big bucks and get proper ratings for community TV. Her second smartest move was dropping the “Community” thing and branding the stations the same way everybody else brands local channels.

    Just look how far she has taken us….
    [rq=259517,0,blog][/rq]Sabres’ Numminen calling it…

  • August 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Another great post by the Muse. I love your take.

    Yes. This trend of branding ourselves by the tools we choose is about as mature as the medium itself. Does it matter in the least whether our words are powered by Microsoft or Apple, or whether our network resides within FaceBook or Twitter, or whether our lives are captured on WordPress or MySpace? It’s what we do with the tools we choose that matters. Every time a newbie misuses some cool new app we have the opportunity to discover something new… potentially important… and clearly human. How I long for the day when most of the communication occurring in my network isn’t about social networking. Spending hours on communication technologies discussing communication technology etiquette is barely living. I agree. Let’s stop pretending we’ve got it all figured out and be open to the fact that we’ve built a space where anything can happen.

    “Social Networking isn’t a business model.” Wow… too true. Thanks for another great post.
    [rq=261203,0,blog][/rq]The sales and marketing time machine

  • August 5, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Hey Suze, another awesome post!

    Social Media is not a campaign.
    Social Media is not a business plan.
    Social Media is not the golden bullet.
    Social Media is not the answer to your prayers.
    Social Media is not your personal chew toy.
    Social Media is not a direct mail route.
    Social Media is not a place to spam and scram.

    Social Media is a respectful personal place to form relationships and have a conversation. Contribute, be a human being and respect others then cool. If not, the door is right there.

    [rq=262984,0,blog][/rq]U.S. Marines: No More Tweets

  • August 5, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Hi Suze,
    Right on the money. Social media is a tool. For me, it’s a tool to have conversations, make new friends, point people in my direction – and eventually I pick up the phone and talk to someone.

    I have friends who ‘lurk’ – and their lives have been made sweeter for it.

    It’s always good to remember the simple adage our mothers taught us – “don’t swear in public, wear clean underwear and always smile, because you never know who’s watching you.”


  • […] 08/05/2009 Posted by Paul Daigle in Social Media, Social Reputation. trackback A recent post by SuzeMuse references Marshall McLuhan’s astute 1964 observation from his book Understanding Media: the […]

  • August 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Thinking about “the medium is the message” got me thinking…
    What’s the message behind the social medium? Perhaps a question worth some exploration? Blog post:
    [rq=265950,0,blog][/rq]What’s the message behind the social medium?

  • August 5, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Here’s a functional link to the post.
    [rq=266074,0,blog][/rq]What’s the message behind the social medium?



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