I am a huge fan of Delicious, the social bookmarking service. I started to use it to store really useful articles that I will “some day get back to.”
Problem is I never get back to them.
The fact that I never is not really a failure on my part nor an issue because Delicious still serves its purpose: it’s a repository for my ongoing social media and search behavior. Every day I’m inundated with endless advice, recommendations, and useful tools. That searching and “check out this article” advice needs to be cataloged in some way even if I don’t systematically go back to the information and take an action on it (e.g., read). In that way Delicious still serves a valuable purpose.
Other people discover content and share it with others without consuming (Read: Here’s what’s wrong with social media: Sharing without consumption). It’s a way to game the social system to build your online profile, and it’s a really easy way to raise your Klout score (read: Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy).
I recognize the way I use Delicious may or may not be the same way others use the tool. This got me to thinking about what needs each social media tool I use serves for me personally and professionally.
Use social media when it serves a direct need
Using social media isn’t about finding the ROI, it’s about filling a purpose. If we wasted our time trying to calculate return on investment for every action we took, social media or not, we’d never get anything done. We’d waste too much time trying to prove what we’re doing has any financial payback.
Instead, every time you delve into a new social media program, ask yourself what purpose does it fill specifically for you personally or professionally. Keep asking yourself that question as it’s hard to determine a tool’s purpose until you start actually using it. That’s why budgeting a little time and money for experimentation is necessary. Testing serves its purpose to determine what’s most valuable for you.
You need to look at how a new social media effort or tool benefits you and your business and not how the creator necessarily intended it to be used. As an application developer, one of the most wonderful aspects of creation is watching how people discover new uses for your tool.
How is your social media use bucking the trend?
Do you use any tool or application that’s contrary to the way others use it? If so, what is it and how is it been so valuable to you personally and professionally?
Creative Commons photo attribution to splorp.