Exploring Social Media: One Size Does Not Fit All

Filed as Features on November 17, 2008 9:45 pm

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Exploring Social Media article series badgePing.fm is fascinating. It is a one-size-fits-all social media service, a kind of one-stop shop of social media tools. While a time-saving service, it is really good for only one thing: Starting the conversation.

Joseph Thornley quoted Jacob George, Manager, Corporate Marketing and Communications at The City of Calgary, recently on Twitter saying:

Social media must be part of a larger strategy to get the most value from it. It should not stand isolated on its own.

Just as one tool doesn’t do everything, not every tool is the right tool for the job. Ping.fm is a great service for broadcasting your news across many channels, but it isn’t the place to get personal and social. If you just want to send out a message, it’s great. When it comes to building a relationship, you have to dive into the specific social media tool that best serves your needs and the needs of your audience.

Social Media Remix Game - Aloha Hawaii versionDuring Hawaii Geek Week, I was part of the Social Media Tools Workshop in Honolulu, and played a fascinating game with speaker Beth Kanter that she developed called the Social Media Game. I described how we played the “Hawaii” version of the game in Learning Blogging and Social Media in Hawaii, and in summary, we all learned that not every tool is the right social tool for the job.

Our group was to put together a social media plan for a surf competition by a local surf equipment rental shop on Waikiki. We went gungho into the planning stages, declaring this would have to be an international competition, inviting surfers from all over the world – totally out of touch with reality in the surfing world, but we were determined that our project would be the biggest event.

We planned to cover every social media tool, from Twitter to StumbleUpon to Digg. We wanted it all. We had great plans, until Beth came over and gave us points for doing one thing right, and took a point away for overwhelming our community manager.

Just as in the real world, the greatest plans are smacked in the face by reality. The reality was simple, and we didn’t see it. We defined our audience as the world. Sure, we were specific in targetting surf fans and surfers, but we choose a one-size-fits-all technique for reaching out through social media tools to our demographics.

Do surfers and surf fans hang out on Twitter? Maybe, maybe not. So we had to research that social media tool’s reach into our demographics. What about StumbleUpon? Digg? Blogs? LinkedIn? Facebook? YouTube? Probably. Once we narrowed it down to where we were to most likely reach our audience, our community manager could breath again and we were focused, and on track.

As Mark Boudreau commented in “Start With the Basics” in this series:

Despite what you describe as the decline of MySpace, if you are blogging or podcasting about music it is absolutely essential that you have a presence there.

From his experience and expertise, he’s probably right. That’s where his audience is, and possibly major music fans. My fans aren’t looking for me there. Are yours?

A WordPress Plugin author contacted me recently and asked for my mailing address. Nervous, I asked why. He told me that he wanted to do something different to announce his latest WordPress Plugin. He’d put together a snail mail campaign to attract greater attention. While it’s a nice idea, most of my mail is junk mail and I rarely pay attention to it. Unless it is bigger than a bread box, it will lay in a pile of “get around to it” mail until I get to bill paying time.

To contact a blogger, you need to reach me through the services I use and depend upon to communicate. That would be email, , and my blog comments. You might try Facebook or , too. Any other method may miss us bloggers as that is where we count on making our social connections.

If you aren’t playing social in your readers’ or clients’ social playground, you’re playing alone.

As we talk about the various social media tools, consider your audience. Which social media tools are they using? If you want your audience to use the social media tools you are using, then you have to educate them and bring them along with you. If you don’t, you better go where they are.

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  1. By Michelle / chelpixie posted on November 18, 2008 at 9:02 am
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    It’s always important to follow your users/readers/listeners where they are and give them easy way to access what you’re doing in the way that works for them.

    Someone I read this morning said, social media is a lot of hard work and indeed it is. We work hard to give the people that are interested a little something of ourselves. Sometimes there aren’t a lot of rewards, but the easier we make it for others to consume our content, the more likely they are to keep coming back.

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  2. By Michelle / chelpixie posted on November 18, 2008 at 9:03 am
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    I meant to add (itchy submit finger) that when you’re doing it all yourself, sometimes it can seem overwhelming to keep all the channels going. Don’t try to keep every channel open but listen to your audience and do what works for them. If that changes you can change with it.

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