This began as a comment on Scott Hepburn’s post Social Media Graduates to the “How?”, but given how quickly my comment was growing, the fact that I was shifting the topic a bit and my inconsistent posting, I decided to flesh out my thoughts in a post of my own.
So here we go.
One key indicator of a shift from the “Why” to the “How” within professional social media circles is the stratification of its practitioners. As Scott, there are the charlatans and the under-informed claiming expertise, and there are the experienced teaching where they can and leading the way, but there are a few more slices in between that I’ve noticed of late:
- Those who can explain the strategic and tactical methods for small efforts, those who can explain them for large efforts and those who understand both and know how to manage the differences between them.
- Those who are married to one or a small set of key tools compared to those who stay on top of the industry as a whole. Niche expertise versus generalization.
- Those who embody community and social interactions on and off line versus those who treat it as a job, turning off when they go home.
- Those who are passionate about the opportunities social media provides, but don’t understand how to balance it against business goals.
And of course there are the shades of gray between all of these levels.
Let’s leave the conversations around “why [ insert latest tool here ] will change everything” to those discovering the possibilities social media affords. Tools are tools. We need to focus on the strategy behind the use of those tools when integrated with business needs and it is time for the experts and “social Media Mentors” as Scott phrases it, to demonstrate that the dominating force going forward is the balance between “why we use social media tools and strategies”, “how we employ those strategies” and “when we use a particular strategy”.
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