Picking On Social Media – Buzz Kill – Scoblizers – Linchpins – Etc.

It’s been a fascinating weekend for me and Social Media. Leo Laporte announced “Social media, I gave you the best years of my life, but never again.” The Joy Of Tech quickly responded with what might be my favorite comic ever from them.

While this was going on, I found myself engrossed in Seth Godin’s Linchpin in a way none of his other books have ever been able to grab me. Whereas the themes are considerably better than the age old “what is social media good for?” question, consider this quote:

“Don’t even get me started on Twitter. There are certainly people who are using it effectively and productively. Some people (a few) are finding that it helps them do the work. But the rest? It’s perfect resistance, because it’s never done. There’s always another tweet to be read and responded to. Which, of course, keeps you from doing the work. Where did your art go while you were tweeting?”

BTW, I was reading Linchpin on my Kindle device – not the iPad, iPhone, or anything else. You’ll notice I tweeted a quote once (and then sent the above one this morning) but I found myself engrossed in the act of just reading, … amazing.

Scoble responded to the conversation with a fascinating Tweet: “While what @leolaporte wrote today contains a lot of truth you can only quit once and keep your credibility. That is why I don’t quit.

I did a general look for more on the conversation and found little. Kind of sad actually as there are some really important questions that need to be asked:

  • Is social media nothing more than, as Leo put it, “an immense waste of time?
  • Are we just playing this game because everyone else is? Are we all in this because, as Robert put it, “you can only quit once and keep your credibility?”
  • Even worse, is this stuff keeping us from “doing the work” as Seth wrote?

I think it comes down to these five simple statements.

  • There are very specific, very clear, VERY STRATEGIC reasons to use Social Media. These are not always embraced by the people with the most followers or the book contracts.
  • If you are engaged in social media because everyone else it, STOP. That’s not enough of a reason.
  • If you are afraid to STOP because you are worried about being labeled a quitter, consider the benefits of being labeled SMART – or actually GETTING STUFF DONE.
  • Realize that the tool of social media is just that, a TOOL. It can be used to do great things, do stupid things, do GREAT GOOD and do GREAT DAMAGE.
  • Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that it is so easy to hate the things we don’t understand. Do you truly understand the social media landscape that you find yourself playing in?

Fun fact – I get asked which Twitter client I use multiple times a week but am only asked a few times a year why I do this whole social media thing.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    So why do you do it?

    My answer is simple…it's my water cooler. I don't have one any place else.

    It used to help with sales and marketing, but now it's just too much, too crowded for that. So, I just hang out because I get tired of talking to myself.

  • http://www.douglassandquist.com Doug S

    Interesting post Paul.. I use Social media to be in the game, to have my nose in there. I want to know if people happen to talk about me and respond. Like Nathan I use it as a Water Cooler, I use it to find good content I'm interested in, I found Leo's post on Twitter… I think where most miss the boat is keeping the everything under control. So keeping a strategy of ownership as you teach is the only safe way to navigate these waters. I think Leo went overboard I think he was basically saying he forgot where home was. Leoville is his home and he tried to make home on a different planet(buzz, friendfeed or whereever) and got lost. No reason he can't set it up so that all stuff he posts on Leoville also gets distributed everywhere…

  • http://www.buzzbooster.com/marketing-blog Shahar Boyayan

    social media should come with the label: “Use carefully”. Most people over do it and have no strategy behind. The real problem is that you might have thousands of followers but are they paying attention?

  • http://www.schoolofpodcasting.com Dave Jackson

    I think what Leo needs to understand is that Podcasting especially is notorious for getting bad for getting constant feedback from listeners/viewers. I have at times taken “time off” from podcasts on occasion. Some announced, and others were unplanned. The unplanned time off rarely raised an eyebrow. Does this mean people didn't miss the show? Possibly. But more important is there are plenty of shows like mine to fill in the slack. I picture people going, “What no show from Dave? Oh well, I'll just listen to ____.” I mean what are they going to do ask for their money back? It's free.

    I do agree that activity does not equal productivity. I have never had anyone complain that I don't tweet more.

  • http://twitter.com/chris2x Chris Christensen

    I think that there are ways of doing twitter that are a complete waste of time. I only pop in an out during the day because I can't monitor it all the time and get anything done.

  • paulcolligan

    Is the water cooler a strategy, or a place to break up the day / get entertained, etc.?

  • paulcolligan

    Yeah, a lot of people found out about Leo's post via Social Media. I sure did.

    I think your insight into Leo's “home” issues is dead on. He's starting to put together a strategy and will be better for it. I hope a bunch of us can learn from him.

  • paulcolligan


  • paulcolligan

    I also doubt we'll ever see that as a regret on someone's tombstone.

    Another issue that I can't even figure out how to track, let alone comment on is the fact that we have many followers who get our updates from 18 different sources. For example, I might find someone read my blog post as a result of a tweet (I certainly tweeted things things this morning) who is also a subscriber who didn't click through (having already read the thing). Normally, I'd say my RSS numbers are down but, in fact, they've just moved to updates via another format.

  • paulcolligan

    But why monitor it at all?

  • Damien O'Riley

    Hey Paul,
    Thanks for mentioning “Linchpin”, I had passed on reading it due to being busy. But after your mention of the book, I went and picked up the audio version and will listen to it today. Thanks


  • paulcolligan

    It has changed a lot of things around here – I'll tell you that much.

  • J.D.

    Paul and Friends,

    I'm thinking this video I embedded on my blog highlights a very interesting concept for integrating the e-reading experience into the rest of social media, and vice versa. As far as I know the e-reader tech is not far enough along to accomplish what is being displayed, but it seems to me there is a ton and a half of opportunity in this approach.




  • J.D.

    Paul and Friends,

    Though in deference to the warp and woof of the article, I still think that much of this predicament reduces to either, the presence or lack of a business strategy, and or the sophistication thereof, in the instance of the former. That and given the history of the medium, comments along the line of this one tend to rub people the wrong way because of political infighting. The game, as I see it, is in essentially how one view's the concept of profit. If you think of it as exploiting your fellow human/peoples/woman/man (never mind how you begin to have a discourse about such a subject, when even the verbiage you utilize is up for debate,) no matter the transaction, then your hands are bound when it comes to social media, and quite frankly the knots are self imposed. If you think that people act together to form markets, and markets decide, then you'll tend to have more options in this respect; and yes, I realize I'm glossing over the many debates inherent to this subject; no apologies as to predicted length. Put this dynamic together in an educational environment that does not teach economic theories to “the public,” unless you are taking an elective in high school, or as a choice in college, and voila! This said, and for me this where the debate really begins, as an American, is that our history, as a nation began to instantiate itself through the Constitution, with an architecture that seemed (at least to me) to imply that certain aspects of our daily transactions and interactions (avoiding the “culture” word here, as that's a whole 'nuther chestnut,) with elements of communal activity, i.e., we prefer not to have individual competition with respect to the prospect of national defense, hence the Constitution provided for a Navy. I would also argue that we prefer not to have competition with the foundation of communication, hence the Constitutional provision to form a post office. So tying it all together, and admittedly making a jump or two in my argument, when it comes to personal communique, we want things simple with respect to the image received with respect to our delivery, and more important, we want a predictable relevant range of control, as an example, personally I don't want the post office supplementing their revenue with advertisements for fiber supplementation, on the 50th Anniversary Card I send to Grandma and Grandpa. I'm happy to pay my costs upfront, and quibble over what image appears on the postage stamp in between the sending of greeting cards. Now take decades of this means of communicating, and try to profit from it through Social Media, just because you have a shiny plastic box to encase the delivery, and reception area, without taking care to massage the message as to both the advertisement, and the content. Insert sarcasm here. And yes, I at least gave you the benefit of the doubt in assuming you have done your market research to begin with, with respect to matching market to message to product. At the same time, if the advertisement message, and the transition thereto, is massaged too much, then we run the risk of being labeled as taking advantage of the emotional draw of the message, assuming you did your job right to begin with. Note: If you want to consider this as anything, please don't think of it as a complaint, as I prefer the term, “challenge.” And…, I full well realize I have said “we” several times, and chances are we have not met, I hope you didn't consider it as an attempt to be intrusive. Finally, yes, the dynamic is no doubt changed for the younger generations, however, at least with respect to gen Y. I started college at 32, in 2004 and chose to live in the dorms. If for no other reason to gleen insight. There still seems to me to be a longing for connection devoid of pitch, or at least a perception thereof that is more easily digestible, arguably the capacity to communicate has devolved without technical interference. I did spend a year living in dorms at age 19. It did seem much more like a journey, with my fellows in many, many respects, not the least of which was we had to at least try to talk to one another, or pretend to. Anyway, I digress.