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Friday, June 13, 2008

Understanding Social Media - Platitudes vs. Fundamentals

Last week I was watching some snippets from an interview with two social software CEOs, guys who are supposed to be luminaries in the social media space. After just a few minutes I clicked away disappointed that they seemed to be reciting the platitudes without providing much insight.

To be fair to them, they were being interviewed at a conference and at a high level. They didn't really have much opportunity to dig into the details. And addressing a large, untargeted audience to introduce the concept of customer interaction and relationships, those platitudes may have been the right messages.

The trend that is starting to become apparent as social media catches the eye of more consumers and businesses is the divergence of understanding the platitudes and understanding the fundamentals.

We are past the point where saying "Markets are conversations" is enough to make you the 'expert' in new media. If all you're doing is reciting the catchprases without an actionable plan then you're stuck in platitudes.

On the other hand, if you can pass the You Test then you're probably more grounded in the fundamentals. And the most fundamental part of understanding social media is knowing the social rules that different communities play by. These aren't officially written down (though many people will blog them) so the way to learn them is by observing and participating.

And I want to be clear, you need to do both observation and participation. Just signing up for a site and watching what other people do will give you some general awareness but won't help you find out where the actual boundaries are. You have to find the boundaries by running into them and realizing that you need to pull back.

The trend that I'm see happening (and I'm not claiming to be the first to spot it) is that the disparity between people who know what they are doing with social media and those that don't is going to become increasingly apparent as people start using the tools personally. If you want to get ahead in business using social media, you can't learn it on the job anymore.


tornerdinn10 said...

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