There’s no right way to do Social Media

Answer this question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

  1. A cab, if you can get one
  2. http://www.carnegiehall.org/
  3. Practice

All of these are right. (Though that last one was more right back in the age of vaudeville.) It’s just a matter of what you mean, and where you’re coming from.

I read a lot of social media “experts” who tell of the “right” way to do social media, and it always cracks me up. They may have a way that works, or know of a company that killed with a particular approach… and then take the next step saying it is THE way to do social media marketing. 

When you hear that, you should be suspicious.


I can understand why they say this. There’s a huge market for people who can provide simple answers. Millions are still trying to figure out how to “make social media work for them,” so if somebody with a blog and a consulting business can step up and give it to them, they’ll get a lot of attention.

As someone who blogs about social media, of course, this could include me. I try not to give that level of sweeping advice myself, and instead focus on the things that people do wrong. Hell, I’ve buttered my bread with other people’s bad ideas for the sake of blog posts for years.

There are also plenty of people with good tips for success, and examples of campaigns that worked. When you see these, though, you have to take them in the context of the company and product that did them.

Old Spice’s success on Twitter and Facebook is a perfect – and common – example: Their success was based on an original and brilliant television commercial. If you mimicked everything Old Spice did on line but didn’t have that winning commercial, I don’t think you’d have the same success.

The only real advice anyone can give about social media is to do it a lot, experiment, and be fluid. (“Wha? Fluid? What the hell are you talking about?” Relax, I’ll get to it.)

If you’re consistently posting on that Facebook Fan Page or Twitter account, and you’re doing what you need to do to build a following, eventually you’ll get it. If you want that to happen faster, it’s going to cost you real money, likely in the form of an ad agency doing it for you.

As for being fluid, be sure you’re aware of what people are talking about, where they’re saying it, how they’re saying it… and keep up with them. The companies that scored big on Facebook are the same ones who learned how to use Myspace before it. The ones who succeeded in Twitter are the ones who learned the value of a hashtag and trending topics. Constant education is necessary in social media marketing – but the ideas for your campaign and your messaging will have to be your own.

Hey, you never know – over time you will get very comfortable with “thinking outside the box,” (which is the most insidiously inside the box expression of all time, but whatever,) doing your own messaging, and wielding these social media tools yourself. Then, you could be inspired to invent an approach no one else ever thought of, and force us to write blog articles about how brilliant you are.

Because there still aren’t any degrees for this stuff, and the majority of social media professionals are just guessing.

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