February 23rd, 2015

Has social media lost its way?

“Social media is like crack—immediately gratifying and hugely addictive.” -- Gary Vaynerchuk

I think so.

It's not that I'm trying to tell you anything, but I knew, as soon as I entered the space, it wouldn't be long before everyone had the necessary account, tools and techniques to the point where any nascent differentiation was lost by dint of everyone/everything looking the same.

Take LinkedIn. No, not everyone has an account (or even a picture -- duh!) but those that have, are now posting, sharing and commenting to the point where I'm having trouble working out if LinkedIn is no more than an overblown Twitter. And Twitter's no different. Again, not everyone has an account, but those that do (in a business context) get it; namely they're turned on to plugging their offering for all it's worth. So what? Once you’ve said it once, how many more times do you need to say it?

But still...something’s missing.

And I almost feel foolish for saying it, given how many times it still comes up in conversation: be remarkable. Of course, the very next question you hear is, how?

Trust me, as someone who's been plugging away these past few years, there's no guide you can copy, despite all those well-meaning(!) people who would have you believe otherwise. You have to make your own path.

In my view, the only way you can expect to make the breakthrough is to try harder than you've ever tried before. To show up every day. To create something that's worth my time. And to adopt a givers mindset. Oh sure, you need a bit of luck, but your social media stock is not going to rise if you insist on spending all your time on every social media platform, sharing someone else's content, and engaging with the crowd (this seems the standard model).

No, you have to create.

Of course it's not easy -- finding the time is the least of your concerns -- but unless you're willing to play it much bigger, my fear is that you'll remain stuck. That's OK if all you want is an online profile, but it won't be enough to trade yourself up to the position where people start engaging with you beyond the occasional Re-Tweet or comment.

To my mind, if you're in the social space it goes much further -- getting your ideas to spread, building a Tribe or starting a movement. At least that's how I see it. And, for the record, I don't see it through the paradigm of sales but something much more meaningful like social justice, political engagement, faith or rebuilding trust.

What do you think?

Is social media more than the platforms on which it's built? If so, what’s your plan to hit the big time?

PS. Here's a well-watched video of the maestro Seth Godin. Enjoy.