Hammersmith or Nail Banger?
This weekend on Twitter, I passed along Beth Harte and Geoff Livingston’s fabulous post, Top 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert is a Carpetbagger. I encourage you to read it.
Not everyone who does things differently than we might have them do it is a carpetbagger. I’m sure Beth, Goeff, Jason, Chris, Amber, Mack, or any other well-respected social media adviser would agree with that statement. Individuals and individual companies need to find their own voice and their own path.
Yet in this fast growing context and culture of experiments and experiences, the chance is high that folks may not have found the information they need for every decision. The world is full of “Swiss cheese knowledge.” Some folks get taught by bad teachers. Some things get past all of us.
Add to that the creativity factor, the drive for innovation, and the necessity that is the mother of invention. Experimentation is a good thing, especially as we test new tools. No one gets to pick who’s qualified to experiment and who’s not.
I’ve used a wooden-heeled shoe to pound a nail when I didn’t have a hammer.
What happens when the experiments change the nature of the tools?
If You Remove the Social … What’ve You Got?
Social media tools — blogs, social networks, Twitter, Facebook, Ning — what happens when you take out the social and just use the tool? What happens when messages and conversations become automated and future dated? What have you got if you don’t know whether you’re responding to a person or a bot?
It’s a fair question.
Some folks see the world with a different filter. They find uses for books and hammers that I’d never imagine. Some folks find uses for social media tools that, in my mind bypass the social. Allow me three extreme — of course no one actually does these things — metaphors to explain what I mean. Here are three people who would surely not see the social in social media tools.
- The person who sends a singing telegram rather than meet for coffee. That person probably won’t understand why socially inclined social media advisers don’t take to auto responders.
- The person who enters into a new neighbor’s house, saying “Cool boxes! Glad you picked my neighborhood! Check out my roller skate store.” That person probably won’t see the problem folks have with a “Just found you. Will you review my blog?” requests that come before “hello” has been mentioned.
- The person who interrupts people at parties to hand out business cards might not put together why a Twitter profile page filled with his / her website links and no @ signs would be considered unsocial.
Don’t get me wrong. Tools are meant to solve problems and experiementing is how we learn. Guy Kawasaki says there’s no wrong way to use tools such as Twitter. Within reason I have to agree.
I’m just sayin’ … when I use a wooden-heeled shoe to pound a nail, I’ve not become a hammersmith or a journeyman carpenter. I’m a nail banger who reconfigured a shoe.
For a hammer to be hammer, its design, function, and use involves setting nails. When I use a hammer as leg on a artfully made table, it’s no longer a hammer. It becomes a table leg.
The primary design, function, and uses of social media tools involve community, conversation, and relationships. A social media advisor brings social skills, relationships, and conversation into the mix. Without using the tools as they were designed, the tools change into something else.
If you remove the social from social media tools, what have you got? More Internet Marketing tools. Spammers and bots figured that out.
How do we keep the social in social media tools?
If you disagree with what I’m saying, please set me straight. If you agree, please help me explain.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!
Jim Hughes says
Yet I’m giving lots of people who send automated thanks for following with a link to their website a chance to learn, cause maybe they just don’t understand.
But if they’re not tweeting, I don’t follow, cause I’m looking for the conversation.
And I’m still putting up with a few who are using automated bots to spew too much nothing, but my patience is waning thin.
This isn’t about how many followers, how many posts, how many hits to your sites. It’s about the quality of your conversation.
Great question. It’s not like you can prevent the marketers/spammers from participating. About all you CAN do is ignore them and hope they go away. Classic “Negative Reinforcement”–where lack of response leads to that behavior being eliminated due to no reinforcement of any kind.
All we have to do is get EVERYBODY on Twitter ignoring the spammers, and we’re all set …
And … that’s the easy part. The tricky part is identifying the spammers who disguise themselves as people you might actually have an interest in … until you realize that all they do is talk about themselves and their business…
ME Liz Strauss says
Yeah, I understand the leand toward quanity and pushing out content gets in the way of a fun and useful conversation. I don’t see where it improves on their ROI, but like other forms of spam, it must. 🙂
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Liz – I’m not sure if I’m getting social media vis a vis the spammers. I take a look at follower requests and often won’t reciprocate if I see spammy behavior in their history. It seems to me that spammers wouldn’t prosper if we didn’t follow them on Twitter. Am I missing something?
ME Liz Strauss says
It’s the pretenders that are to find anywhere in life. Glad we have each other. I think would so much harder for the folks who are trying to sort this all now, just as they are arriving these days. 🙂
Adam Singer says
Geoff’s post is good but a little jaded…I like your angle here better, you are far more positive.
There are pseudo-experts in every field…not sure why social media gets picked on so much. I see far more “marketing experts” than “social media experts” anyway. I don’t drink the kool aid and see right through the bs…eventually the world will too.
Franklin Bishop says
Interesting thoughts. I hate anything that is automatic. So lets keep the social in their.
ME Liz Strauss says
Social media is the current panacea so we’re trying to figure out how it fits in the overall marketing mix. It’s hard not to talk about when it’s all anyone seems to want to explore.
You’re right though, every field has the same problems, it’s just eaiser to get into one where the rules haven’t settle enough to tell who know what’s what. 🙂
ME Liz Strauss says
I’m with you. I’d rather not get a message in most cases. An occasional circumstance requires a note to a group, but few really call for an automatic response. 🙂
Richard Reeve says
Just had a back channel discussion with a friend about his setting up a social media project. His use of the tools was awesome, right on the spot. What concerned me and I shared this with him and now with all of you: the sleekest platform without allocated resources to build and maintain relationships will develop no traction in this space, I’m convinced of it. In the end, the tools take very little resources, but the commitment to relationship has a cost. It’s also where to make the gold.
Liz, you have “hit the nail on the head”. When my father started giving me tools for birthdays (he is in the building trade, and I am glad for what I learned about it from him!) he told me: “If you don’t have a hammer go get one. A drill is not a hammer”.
Learning to use the proper tools for the job, and use them safely, is one of the hallmarks of a craftsman. That lesson has served me well throughout my life, and it is interesting to see it applied so explicitly here. Sometimes we internalize things so deeply we forget that we automatically apply them. Thanks for reminding me!
Geoff Livingston says
Great post, Liz. I think that ignoring the bad is the only way. Most companies are experiencing this, thus the constant complaints I hear about their social media (and the consultants the hired) not “working right.” In reality, 80 percent of the time they are spamming or are engaged in one-way, self-centered communications creating the problem.
Lucretia Pruitt says
Fabulous post Liz!! I’ve been wanting to read it all day – but the day has been one of too many other family obligations.
That said? I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
I’ve got some thoughts to add, but I think I’ll do it tomorrow when I can do it coherently and thoughtfully! 🙂
Todd Smith says
Thanks, Liz. I’m seeing Twitter now as simply a way to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise meet.
I’ve only been using it regularly for about a month and here’s my results: 3-4 people who I’m starting to bond with (can’t wait to see them, exchanging ideas a lot, I can call them budding friendships), 10-15 people with whom I’m breaking the ice and would like to get to know better, 100 people whom I recognize and sometimes say hi to, and all this out of 214 people that I follow.
To me this says one thing: getting to know people on Twitter is the same as in real life. Making friends on Twitter takes time and requires all the same skills that it does in any other arena.
The cool thing about Twitter is that it gives a chance to meet and befriend some amazingly talented and interesting people. The kind of people that can really make a difference when you’re friends with them. I’d rather use social media like Twitter to forge a few deep relationships than just get “traffic” to my site (I can always pay someone to do the SEO for that).
Jim "Genuine" Turner says
I think I might take a stab an expanding on these thoughts. Just one thought I wanted to impart on it, looking at it from a different side. Some people have no idea what a hammer is… They have only ever known that a wooden shoe is how you drive a nail. My point is, they have never been taught the proper way to handle the social part. Business owners have no idea what you are talking about when you say “handing out cards in the middle of a conversation interrupting other people.” They have no idea that might be wrong. Their social skills cannot grasp your meaning. I find that from a business sense I explain to this to many of them. They have made the mistake of treating it like business and not the cocktail party everyone else is enjoying.
katinka - spirituality says
I think it’s very easy to forget to be social on social media tools. Especially if you’ve got your blog(s) posting to twitter automatically for instance. I try to be personal about twitter at least once a day – whether it’s by twittering a quote or by replying to someone. But there are days that I totally forget to do that.
Mike King says
Great points… Social media has had such a big impact, of course people abuse it! I think you are right though that people gain the most from it when they use them with at least a bit of a personal touch or social aspect to them.
Beth Harte says
“If you remove the social from social media tools, what have you got? More Internet Marketing tools.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you Liz! You simply stated what I was also trying to get across in my scalability post. If we use the tools as just the tools (i.e. no social conversation), they ARE Internet marketing tools and the so-called “conversations” become 1-way broadcasts. Why go backwards? We have those tools in place already. 🙂
When I first started using Twitter I didn’t experience any conversation at all. I think that’s changed. Perhaps it’s because I have gotten to know more people (and they me) and also because I became more comfortable starting conversations, which isn’t always easy. It’s amazing what insights people have and what can be learned when you talk with them. 🙂
Liz! Thanks. I consider myself new at social media (despite having taught a class to other newbies here in DC on the topic) so I’m always trying to figure out how can I be ME (personal, silly and real) along with meeting my goals and objectives as a business owner. Since our businesses are all based on who we are INSIDE, I love the ways the “social” works on line. But like others, I’m often torn between expediting (sometimes because I don’t want to leave people out) and being true to who I am. I always enjoy the conversations you start — and thank you for helping me get clearer on WHY I use social media and HOW to implement it going forward.
Marcus Goodyear says
Sadly, I have actually met the people who hand out business cards at parties.
Social media tools are dangerous because you can forget that the readers and numbers and stats are not actually readers and numbers and stats. They aren’t even potential customers or clients or purchasers.
They are people. When we forget that, it all falls apart.