Stop using social media

Put down your iPhone. Or Droid. Step away from Tweetdeck. Stop trying to be the Mayor of Starbucks. Too distracted by tweets, check-ins, updates and videos? Let’s take a breath. Get some perspective.

The true spirit of social media: communication & connection
Remember why we started using social media to begin with? Connecting with colleagues and friends (and making new ones). Building communities around common interests and activities. Sharing information better and faster.

But marketing? Can social media be used effectively to promote (or “position”) our products and services?

It’s easy to mistake social media for a silver bullet to help reach an increasingly fragmented audience. But shifting its emphasis from communicating to marketing is like trying to turn phones and email into sales tools. (That’s already been done. Do we really want social media to go the way of telemarketing and spam?)

So many tools, so little time
Every time the “social media flower” appears in a conference presentation, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry as I attempt to fathom (let alone integrate into my marketing strategy) this myriad of tools.

Social Media Flower - does this scare you?

Can we really improve our communication if it’s fragmented over hundreds of channels?

Yet every week I learn about NEW social media tools. Can we spread ourselves over every possible online medium? And if we could, would we be effective?

Communicating poorly is almost as bad as not communicating at all.

Do I really need a tweet from you at 4am?
Trust me — if I’m awake at that time, the last thing I want to do is check Twitter, let alone read a company’s latest press release.

Let’s face it. We’re trying desperately to get our content to the top of the vast information overload heap. My friend Phil Baumann calls Twitter the gateway drug. Does that mean all of social media is as addictive? I follow businesses on social media that send updates every few minutes. Problem is, I’m really not that into your business.

You might argue, “I have to constantly post messages because I never know when someone will see them.”

So?

Stop worrying about quantity and start worrying about quality. Your followers will pay more attention.

Social Media Lemmings
Stop following everyone else’s lead on social media. What’s behind this desire to be first? To post things “real-time” before everyone else does? If someone sends out something interesting, we re-tweet it quickly to show we’re “connected” and up-to-date.

One-upmanship in social media prevents us from presenting ourselves honestly and transparent. It creates a false sense of urgency. I fear we’re becoming pale imitators in an ever-growing pool of marketers crowding social media.

Take a breath
Because we’re so caught up in the excitement of real-time communications (I just tweeted this to more than ten thousand people — I’m awesome!), we haven’t been taking care of ourselves properly.


Unless you’re a doctor on call or leading a revolution, put down your phone at dinner. Re-charge your batteries, not just your phone. Step away from the shiny screen and reassess what we’re doing — and why we are doing it.

Take a walk. Read a book (on a Kindle if you must). Take back your lunch break. Eat with colleagues or friends. Have a real-time, analog conversation. It’s amazing how ideas, creativity, and connection can blossom through offline conversations.

Less is more
While on break, rethink how to approach social media. We can’t just use these tools to broadcast our message. Instead, we should use the right social media tools that allow for honest and authentic conversations.

Stop trying to get things posted in “real-time” before everyone else. Let go of the desire to be “first” and start to realize when it’s appropriate to communicate (and when it’s not). Avoid oversharing. Be open, honest and transparent about what we have to offer. And ask the same from our followers.

Give your fingers a rest. The most powerful social media strategy is you.

13 Comments

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13 Comments to Stop using social media

  1. by Michelle Rabell

    On July 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for keeping it real, Chris! This is a great and timely post.

  2. by Zoe Buckingham

    On July 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Hear hear! Well said! The Twitter overload is frankly overloading. I think that Twitter works really well at conferences and events when people are engaged in a particular subject and open and ready for discussion.

  3. by ann petry

    On July 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    excellent…so appreciate the “middle way”.

  4. by Meredith Gould

    On July 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Perfect timing with this post, Chris. A strong advocate for putting forth and sustaining an integrated (rather than fractured) identity when using social media tools, lately (like yesterday) I found myself wondering when and how that integrated identity becomes fractured by the tools themselves.

    Engagement with multiple networks via Twitter provide an endless — and constant — source of ideas. For that I am grateful BUT/AND I’ve been noticing how engagement in immediate conversation is leeching energy I need for creative development — the stuff that happens *after* the first frenzied flurry of conversation.

    Time for more balance, the attainment thereof is put forth by all spiritual traditions as seek-worthy.

  5. by Susan Eller

    On July 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Very timely and well said. I do agree that we need to balance the social media with our IRL or as @PhilBaumann says AFK.

  6. by Gibson Goff

    On July 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    “Yet every week I learn about NEW social media tools. Can we spread ourselves over every possible online medium? And if we could, would we be effective?

    Communicating poorly is almost as bad as not communicating at all.”

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Three cheers for Chris! Excellent post.

    Who knows, while we’re having an analog conversation or enjoying our uninterrupted dinner or taking a walk, maybe we’ll come up with a new idea. Then we won’t have to RT everyone else.

  7. by Matt Katz, MD

    On July 10, 2011 at 2:47 am

    I have found listening valuable online, but it has become cacophony. I completely agree with you that we should enjoy real life without feeling a need to stay ‘plugged in’. Dinnertime is time for conversation with my family, not the Twitterati.

  8. by Bazz

    On July 12, 2011 at 2:41 am

    What is Social Media?
    A childish narcissistic desire to have 15 minutes of fame or forever.

  9. by Z-man

    On July 12, 2011 at 8:56 am

    hey where is the LIKE button? :P

  10. by Chris Boyer

    On July 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I actually disagree with you, Bazz. Social media does have a proper role in communications. However, I do hope you get some attention with your comment. :)

  11. by Christine Kraft

    On July 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I wonder if the reason we don’t hear more about the shadow side of SM is that it is more nuanced. Does nuance alone make certain ideas less appetizing as info snacks? It definitely makes them slower to digest, and some may not want to pause for the time req’d to digest nuance. Regardless, great post. Looking forward to reading more.

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