Social Media is about MORE than the tools

There are SO many tools out there that can help you manage, measure, and execute many of the functions that exist within social media. Just like you can have all the books in the world and not be the least bit intelligent; the same can be said of social media tools. You can have all of the listening tools – and still not hear anything. You can have all the management tools, and still be unorganized. You can have all the measurement tools, and still not understand. Even the venues like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are just tools. For people, for brands, they serve as the middleman between themselves and other people. Social media is about more than just the tools, it’s about being social by nature.

What I mean by that, is that some people instinctively get it – and thus they are successful. They can take to Twitter and Facebook the same way they take to a networking event. They can easily mingle, connect, and understand what they are doing and why – even if subconsciously. This is especially true for Gen Y. We grew up with the internet. When something new, or as different as Twitter was in the Facebook era comes out of the woodwork – we can use it without a second thought. We’ll spend 30 minutes playing with it and then we know more than some analysts do.

Do not take me out of context, I am not saying non-Gen Y’ers don’t instinctively get social media, because most of the superstars in the industry do not fall into the “millenial” range. A lot of people have years of experience in marketing, advertising, PR – and social media is a natural evolution for them. For others who have the same experience, social media may not be a natural evolution – they are not comfortable with it. In this instance, we should not force them to adapt – rather, we should let them learn at their own pace and evolve over time. Put the naturally social people on the front lines (regardless of their title or department) and put training in place to teach them not only about social media, but about the restrictions that they have in relation to the brand so that they understand.

What I am saying, though, is that you either get it – or you don’t. This is a problem that I see and deal with everyday. Sometimes I get frustrated when people don’t get what I’m talking about – or if I have to spend more time explaining something when it just seems like common sense in my head. What I have to remind myself is that this is not as easy for others as it can sometimes seem to me. Many brands are still battling the idea that social media is more than just a “nice to have” but is, instead, a need to have. Some brands are not, and will never be social by nature because the more traditional tools and strategies have worked for so long & they refuse to “fix what’s not broken”.

The word “social” by definition means:


Adjective: Needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities

  • – we are social beings as well as individuals
Companionship. Community. Those are hefty words with deep meanings. To be able to create friendships and bring people together around common interests, themes and goals is not a skill that comes naturally to just anyone. Just because you give someone a hammer does not mean they can build a house, so the tools mean nothing in comparison to the people and their abilities.
Social media is really about being social – more than the tools that so many claim make them qualified to be “gurus” 🙂
BTW I was lacking inspiration for a new blog post today, but thankfully someone gave me a little push in the right direction.


  1. Eric Wittlake · July 13, 2011

    So you mean I should stop collecting tools and actually build something? But what can I do with my Bebo and Friendster tools? 🙂

    Communities are based on mutual relationships. As a marketer, what are you doing with all those tools to give something back to the community? Or are you just flying random tools around and hoping no one gets hit?

    Great post, and impressive question-to-publish time!

    — @wittlake

  2. Pingback: Sidewalk Chalk and Other Cool Ideas – School Communications 2.0

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