David Finch

David Finch

When I was in elementary school my father took me to the most amazing display of creativity that had I ever seen. I was completely mesmerized by the lights, the acting and the way stories were made to come alive. As a young boy, what intrigued me the most was watching what I thought was impossible become possible with a few words or gestures. What I had experienced was my first magic show.

That single event was so impacting that for twenty years I spent money, read books and articles by some of the greatest performers of all time. It motivated me to travel to obscure locations to meet magicians from this underground society to watch and learn as well as to be challenged all over again.

However, as I got older I noticed that instead of becoming a magician, even though I could do a simple routine, I was becoming a collector – A collector of tricks, secrets, books and videos. I was more addicted to finding the “new thing” instead of honing my craft and executing a few simple tricks with the performance of a master. I was afraid I would miss out and by missing out it would make me less of a performer. The end of the story is that while I was determined to find the new, I didn’t become a performer at all.

The Social Media Trap

I know you may be asking, “what does this have to do with social media,” but it has everything to do with it. Like many of you I’m connected everywhere, Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed,
and the list goes on. I also subscribe and read over four hundred RSS
feeds and what I continue to hear is this question,
“What’s the next big thing?”

LONDON - JULY 10:  In this photo illustration ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Who’s going to unveil the next Twitter or Facebook? What new tool is going to take the web by storm that everyone is going to have to have? What’s going to explode on to the mobile scene?

I’m sure you’ve heard all of these and more. The real question is not what tool could be next, but can you execute with what you currently have?

The magicians that I had admired were not those that carried around shiny boxes and had to be twenty feet away from you to perform the magical illusion, but it was the individual who can master a simple trick with a coin or a dollar bill, or even something that he borrowed from someone else.

The challenge is how can I maximize not what’s coming, but how can I maximize what I already have.

Here are a few ways I’m combating the social media trap.

7 Ways to Avoid the Social Media Trap

1. Engage in conversations within the communities you are currently a part of.
2. Revisit social networks that you already have a profile in and see if the community has evolved or grown since you last visited.
3. Don’t run after the “next thing.” If it’s big you’ll find out about it, believe me.
4. Think execution before activation.
5. Simplify and go back to the basics of social media: people first, tools second.
6. See if you can unplug and connect with others face-to-face.
7. Add to your social media toolbox not what everyone has, but only what you will use.

If you find yourself already victim to the trap, pause and go back to what the heart of social media is all about – Connecting with people, one person at a time.

Note: While I was writing this post, Gary Vaynerchuk from winelibrarytv.com published a video that addresses the same topic. Check it out!

Have you found yourself prey to this trap? What methods are you using to get out? What have you learn in the process?

Leave a comment, I want to hear your story.

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About David Finch

David Finch

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.dailyaxioms.com DrewGneiser

    I like Seth Godin's addition to this idea. If you can't be the best at the platform, then don't do it (he doesn't have enough time to invest on Twitter, so we puts his time elsewhere). I think this idea can really tie into what you wrote, David. We often spend a lot of time trying to find the next thing (and spreading ourselves too thin) when we could use that time to invest in the communities we already have. Great post.

  • http://www.hvyset.com Ian

    David, you're dead-on. It's astoundingly easy to become a collector, and much more time-consuming and demanding to become a practicioner.

    Your reminder to connect with others face-to-face is particularly poignant.

    Thanks for the post.

    • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

      Ian, it's so easy to get caught up in all the online tools that you can easily eliminate face-to-face meetings. Personally, my strategy is to use the tools to help facilitate a face-to-face meeting if at all possible.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com Craig

    You are dead on, people love the new flavor of the week tool but the bottom line and best practices are done regardless of what tools are used. It's still about the people and relationships, the tools are just tools. I also watched the Gary V clip and agree with you that it was acccurate, and everyone should watch it.

  • http://PopScreen.com Glenn Gutierrez

    I think the social media trap is definitely based on feeling spread out too thin. I’ve joined a number of different social media sites, but I’m mainly active on only Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. I would like to do more but I’m happy being able to build and maintain quality relationships with people on these networks. I find that the best forms of social media are definitely based around my own personal interests. Facebook with strengthening my relationships with people I already know, Twitter with meeting and keeping up with people in real time and Linkedin with building and reinforcing my corporate networking base.

    Overall, I agree that people are the engine behind great web applications but the “next big thing” type applications are based on serving particular social needs that aren’t specifically catered too. In that perspective, the form and function of tools are CRITICAL. For instance, Youtube was built on people, but for the purpose of being the hub to upload video. Youtube has social elements but no one can say it’s the same as Facebook or Twitter which are hugely driven by constant social interaction.

    Because of this, I think that when people talk about the next big thing there is this dilemma with tools vs people. But this dichotomy of choosing which is more important doesn’t show the whole picture because the tools are the means to delivering quality people relationships. Imagine if Twitter allowed 340 characters instead of 140 characters. It’s effectiveness as a tool wouldn’t be that efficient in promoting relationships within its agenda – microblogging. It just wouldn’t be a very good tool.

    As David said earlier, “The magicians that I had admired were not those that carried around shiny boxes… but it was the individual who can master a simple trick…” We want a personalized experience. But to have a good magic show you need a magician with some really good magic tricks that interest you. These magic tricks, and even the magician, are the tools in any web app. In essence, you can’t have a good web application/social medium without it being a good tool first.

    • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

      Glenn, great comment! I like the strategy that you've implemented for Facebook, Twitter and LInkedIn.

  • http://clickkt.com clickktdotcom

    Excellent content here and a nice writing style too

  • http://danielgreene.com Daniel Greene

    Good food for thought starting with a compelling hook. Thanks!

  • AveryHorzewski

    Great reminder! I particularly liked # 5, “people first, tools second.” After all, any communication is about reaching out to people and conveying a message. So much so, that I’d put that as # 1 vs. # 5. If you keep that tip in mind, the others naturally follow.

    As the methods that we're using in 2009, we (Women In Consulting) are 1) improving on what we started in late 2008 (a new blog, and a Facebook and LinkedIn presence; and 2) researching/analyzing other prominent tools based on our audience(s), what will resonate with them, our overall goals, and what we can realistically achieve given our limited resources.

    The key is knowing your audience and being clear on your objectives–which should always include reaching out to your audience in the ways that work for them, not just in ways you think are “cool.”

    I take the same approach with my clients when making recommendations. It all starts with your audience. That's why I liked “people first, tools second.”

    blog.womeninconsulting.org

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  • http://mikemywords.com Mike McDowell

    Definitely needed the reminder, David. Thank you. It's easy to get consumed with the next hot thing, and it ends up distracting you from your original strategy. Time to get back to the strategy.

  • http://ruralcommunityleadership.wordpress.com Jim Kane

    I really appreciated this post Jason thanks for post it. Perhaps 'focus' is now the word in social media.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Ian, it's so easy to get caught up in all the online tools that you can easily eliminate face-to-face meetings. Personally, my strategy is to use the tools to help facilitate a face-to-face meeting if at all possible.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Glenn, great comment! I like the strategy that you've implemented for Facebook, Twitter and LInkedIn.

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