You know what the problem with Social Media is ? Everyone thinks they know it…
Sad but true, this is the case when it comes to social media. Almost everyone who has accounts on two or more services(especially Twitter & FriendFeed) think they all know Social Media like the back of their hand and it’s evident by the confidence with which they tell you how they think Social Media is the coolest thing ever and that it can do wonders to your company/product without thinking twice . These are the people who will tell you your company needs a blog more than anything, ask them what’s the easiest way to get 10k followers on some microblogging site and they’ll quip “following 20k users”.
While tools are a critical ingredient of the whole Social Media cocktail they are not all that there is to it. What needs to be realized across the board is that tools are just a means to an end(relationships) and knowing how to operate a tool or two doesn’t imply anything. It’s not uncommon to assume that if blogs work for a particular product they should work for any other product too, nor is it uncommon to assume if one needs to spread word on Twitter/Kwippy they need to follow every user they can get my hands on(and put info about their product in the profile background).
Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do – Edgar Degas
Anyone can use colors to paint but it take an artist to come up with something that people really admire, same is the case with Social Media, anyone can read a few blogs daily or use some tools regularly but to get what Social Media means and what to do with it, needs an extra social sense(mostly common). A quick test to know if someone gets Social Media would be ask them about how to leverage Social Media without touching any of the commonly available tools or simply by seeing how they score on this checklist(a score of 20 should be a minimum).
Social Media >> Twitter + Kwippy + Plurk + FriendFeed + Facebook + Myspace + (other such sites)
The best part about using Social Media is that there’s no straight formula which one can use for various brands/products. What might work for Pepsi might not work for Coke and it shouldn’t work too for both are different products(though in same category) by different companies and have more dissimilarities than similarity. Also, another thing that I’ve realized is irrespective of the number of hours these people who apparently get social media have spent on the tools, their understanding of the tools as standalone products and their relevance in the bigger picture is pedestrian. I’d like to end this post by saying if you are thinking Social Media, think beyond tools because there’s a lot more to it then tools.