Social media tools really aren’t important

Many people are jumping off the MySpace bandwagon lately, according to recent news. This used to be the top social networking site. But I read a quote on (the highly popular — for now) Twitter last week saying, “The only people still using MySpace are junior high kids and musicians.”

Social media tools will come and go. There will always be something newer, better, easier and cooler. What we need is to talk about the processes that go into making social media the right answer for what’s you’re trying to accomplish.

A recent blog summed it up more succinctly that I had seen in a while. Social media are just tools in a toolbox from which you can pick and choose the right one for you (or your client).

You need to ask yourself three questions:

1) Where’s your audience?

2) What’s your goal?

3) How open can I be?

I would have made #2 the first point, as the most important issue is what we’re trying to accomplish through the use of social media. Nevertheless, the author still put it there near the top 🙂

Regarding #3… The blog quoted above talks about classification, but openness can also involve things like the appropriate level of organizational transparency and allowing workers to have a voice.

I heard in a meeting today the oft-quoted fear that leadership will no longer control the message; so workers may post something classified, inappropriate — or start an “edit war.”

To this I reply that the issue isn’t one of technology, but rather a personnel issue. I love the quote from Intellipedia leader Chris Rasmussen, “If someone posts an inappropriate poster on the wall at work, you don’t ban the wall! It’s a personnel issue to be dealt with by that person’s manager.”

Are some social media tools better than others? Sure. But it all depends on the answers to those three questions, based on your unique situation.

Choose some. Ignore others. Use your judgment to use the tools that will best accomplish your specific goals.

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