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October 06, 2009

Why Would I Say to "Stop Talking About Social Media"?

Two weeks ago, the second in a pair of guest blog posts from me for Brian Solis' PR 2.0 site suggested that people should "stop talking about social media and go do it already". For those of you who know me, and this blog, you know we actually use (and talk about) social media quite a bit. This blog has become something of a jumping-off point for new social services and applications. Sometimes, if lucky, I can even find some valuable tips and tricks to help you find the best places to find information or distribute it. So why the seeming contradiction? And why did my content end up on Brian's site?

Second answer first - Brian is nearing the completion of yet another book, and simply needs to focus, so he reached out to a number of people who he thought could provide value to his site when he was otherwise occupied. FTC disclosure be darned, Brian is a good relationship for me to kindle because not only can he help provide me access to early-stage startups I like to cover, but he also occasionally can find panel opportunities for me to participate in. It's a win-win type of relationship and practically everyone I know respects his work. So when the opportunity came to help a friend out, I did (free of charge).

In July, I wrote the first post: The Influencer’s Dilemma: The Battle For Mindshare Amid Media Turmoil. I hope to talk more about this at length soon. But two weeks ago, I wrote the piece that gained a lot more traction, titled, Stop Talking About Social Media and Go Do It Already. This isn't to mean that we should stop using social and media right next to each other in a sentence, nor does it mean that I am begging people to stop talking about Twitter and Facebook and all their favorite networks. While a dramatic reduction in discussion there wouldn't hurt, I am not saying that either.

Here is what I believe.

I believe that these "new" networks and new activities are becoming essential practices for people in businesses of all industries. I believe that people who are not utilizing social media are going to lose out to people who do. In 1999, at my first job, we had a phrase we used, called "Get Web or Get Out", suggesting that if you were not participating, you soon wouldn't be part of the game. The same is true with social media.

But I also believe that these current "new" practices will be commonplace soon enough. Just like you don't hear about e-mail experts and typists and voice mail specialists in this day and age, so too won't you hear about Twitter aficionados and Facebook Fan page mavens in the years forward. Over time, these skills will blend into the marketplace. This will mean a likely cessation of the discussion of these practices, and more of a head-nodding situation.

Like you, I frown upon the titles of "social media expert" and "social media guru". I'm not all that fond of "community manager" either, which may sound shocking. I get the need, but I fear for those titles in a fast-moving world. (See also: Social Media Experts are the New Webmasters from July '08)

We run the risk of believing our own kool-aid and starving of oxygen in our own bubble if we focus too much on the technologies that enable us to do things than us actually accomplishing these goals ourselves. When I do focus on the technologies and the networks and the services that are in this market, and I bring them to you, it is because that is the role I play as an early adopter and tech geek blogger. But when I take the tools to work, it's all business. Most people won't care how the task is accomplished, only that it gets done. So yes, I love the communities. I love many of the tools. Social media makes sense. But let's focus on results.

My thanks to Brian for the opportunity to guest post. Hopefully more are coming.