There are so many social media platforms now that it's hard to tell the real names from the fake ones. There's so much competition out there for eyeballs and time, it is not enough to simply be a diversion. The platforms have to elevate to the status of "tool."
You, too, should strive to be a tool.
This is a time-tested theory. How many books have you never finished reading? Likely it is because the books never elevated from diversion to tool. It's difficult for a diversion to work for 150 pages, let alone 350. Once a book becomes a tool for escape, emotional outlet or learning, it is more likely to be used to completion.
I had a similar experience with my Apple TV. Our family would use it periodically, but we were more attached to cable television. Then my son started getting more interested in "Yo Gabba Gabba," then "Super Hero Squad," now "Wild Kratts" (definitely check out Wild Kratts if you aren't familiar with it.).
Apple TV suddenly became a tool to watch the same shows over and over and over again on Netflix. And even more importantly, it was a tool to avoid inappropriate commercials I didn't want my son watching.
The same is true for people's usage of social media platforms (Don’t worry, we are almost to how this applies to your brand. Trust me.). A look at the platforms:
Facebook diversion: see what people are up to
Facebook tool: stay connected with people far away
Twitter diversion: follow funny hashtags
Twitter tool: source of real-time information
Pinterest diversion: browse beautiful images
Pinterest tool: inspire creativity in your life
Now, here is the interesting thing: the same rule applies to YOUR presence within these social media platforms (See, you can trust me). Your brand must become a tool for your followers. Books, as mentioned before, become a good model.
Just like a book, ask if your brand will be:
- mental escape
- emotional outlet
- learning tool
One addition: purchase resource. The purchase resource function could come through discounts, early access, product education or usage tips -- the right method depends on what your brand is.
It's important to differentiate among escape, outlet, tool and resource because it’s likely one of the four is most applicable to your brand and your followers (keep in mind, this can change from platform to platform). Choosing a focus and remaining disciplined enough to stick to it will result in followers knowing what to expect from you and digging in.
The other important aspect: It makes it easier to deliver ROI. Fragmented focus means fragmented ROI. Disciplined focus means traceable ROI.
This is not to say a mix of the four isn't appropriate. Still, a majority of effort should go into the focus, with periodic tangents onto the other three areas when appropriate.
So, go on. Get out there and be a tool.
A word to be a wise: if you're ever in the UK then it's really not a good idea to call someone a tool.
But I love your categories of "facebook tool", "twitter tool" etc. Exactly sums up a lot of social media users.
Thank you for this inspiring article. I guess many Sunday users of social media should read it to realise the potential of SM platforms. It's great proof that social media are not time wasters if used wisely.
Thanks everyone for the comments!