Putting the Social Media Pieces Together

by Chris Kenton on July 29, 2008

Penolope Trunk from the Boston Globe posted a very incisive piece on the proliferation and fragmentation of social media tools, and the implications for developing a consistent brand–especially a personal brand.

It’s clear to me that blogging is best for expressing big ideas. If you can’t convey new ideas on your blog, then you probably won’t get a lot of traffic. And most blogs that do well have a single theme and the audience can depend on the theme dictating the content of the blog. But Twitter is not good for fleshed-out ideas. I see people using Twitter for a lot of stuff, but not for fleshed-out ideas. And Flickr is good for expressing passion. Way better than, say, Twitter.

So it strikes me as really lame that we have such a wide range of media at our disposal yet people are using that range to convey the same aspect of themselves: the personal brand they are creating for social media.

What I love about her post–other than the fact that she’s not a “social media guru” but a working journalist who’s sharing her experience working with Web 2.0 tools–is that she highlights an aspect of social media marketing that I haven’t thought deeply about, despite coming from a branding background. Like many marketers, I’ve been so focused on figuring out the tactical aspects of knitting together all these disparate tools, I haven’t thought too much about the modulation of voice or message to match the medium, even though it’s obvious.

yellow knowsOver the past few months, I’ve been working on the interplay of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and my own blog and business sites. In a nutshell I’m working to create original content in places like YouTube and my business sites, write commentary about the content on my blog, and drive traffic to the content through Twitter, FriendFeed, and SEO traffic. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter help me build networks of people who have a general and hopefully growing interest in the content I’m creating.

It’s a lot like the integrated marketing programs my agency used to produce where we’d use direct mail to drive web traffic to move a product. Except today, the tools are proliferating and evolving so rapidly, it takes some time to figure out what tool works best for what purpose.

But Penelope sheds another light on this complex fabric. Who you connect with, and the inherent mode of communication facilitated by, say, the 140 character haiku of Twitter, has not only a practical impact on what you say, but a strategic one as well. Instead of having a monolithic “social media” voice that you shove into each new medium however well it fits, explore different aspects of your voice that fit different mediums.

So I am playing with Twitter right now, seeing what part of me feels most natural to be in Twitter. This is the same thing we do as we make a new friend. We figure out what combination of the things that make up our personality will be best with this person. That’s why we’re a little different with each person we know.

Maybe this is a little too down in the weeds for many marketers, but i think it’s bringing us full circle with much of the depth of understanding marketers have gained about communication over the past 30 years, and applying it rather succinctly to the tools we’re building in social media. Discussions like this are proof to me that social media is not a passing phenomena. Again, this isn’t a marketer or social media guru pushing a new methodology, it’s a journalist speaking about her own exploration with the modern tools of communication and how she understands the evolution of her craft. That’s powerful stuff.

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