Social Media Is a Tool, It's Not a Religion

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The title of this post was a tweet that drew sharp response on twitter, so I thought I would expand on this thought (a good example of a use of twitter by the way.)

The entire tweet actually was . . . social media is a tool, it’s not a religion, there are no real rules and we are all experimenting every day.

As I mentioned, I received a ton of replies. Now, some mentioned that perhaps I was a tool, but the bulk of the responses leaned towards a frustration that I see from many small businesses trying to figure the whole social media thing out.

Too many social media evangelists want to portray tools like twitter and Facebook as some sort of new Utopian Society where rules and pure uses are established and must not be challenged. Look, I know that there are certainly “generally accepted” rules of behavior, but the same rules exist in every corner of human interaction.

Don’t be rude, don’t be boring, give to get.

The point is, for a business or marketer, these are just tools, tools to meet objectives. Don’t over think new media tools. Use them in smart ways, not necessarily the ways you see other using them. Approach new media options with an eye on how they can ultimately help you achieve your objectives and not on how you can become part of the now new thing that’s all the buzz.

You can push the bounds of new media as a marketing strategy without running counter to the ordained culture of a social network if you simply use common sense. Spam is spam whether it’s in email or auto posted to a social network, but getting creative about automating the process of posting content to all of the various outposts you have developed online is a smart way to explore new media use.

My approach to new media is this – explore, participate, converse authentically, but use as many tools as you can to make it as easy as possible to do so. That’s how you juggle the demands on your time with the need for ROI. ROI is an elusive thing with social media, but focus on the investment part first and the return part will show up.



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