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What We THINK We Know About Social Media Can Hurt Us

You’re probably thinking that I have lost my ability to turn a phrase. The traditional version of what I have stated in the headline is something along the lines of “What you don’t know can hurt you.” It’s cliched, but that is for the simple reason that it is true. If we don’t have a certain piece of information, we could be injured, whether it is physically, emotionally, psychologically, or some other way.

English: Research on Iran. by Negar Mottahedeh...
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In social media, things tend to get turned on their ear, so to speak, and conventional wisdom can seem rather unconventional. To get the point, I am seeing something in the social media space that is both interesting and cautionary. This observation comes as a result of a webinar I conducted for an association group this week. The business is rather traditional and my pre-webinar research showed that only 20% of the attendees mentioned a social media presence on their website.

The association group has this sense of their membership and asked me to do a Social Media 101 presentation. I did. I felt it even went beyond the basics (since the technical details are really a distraction from the need to apply the services appropriately). In other words, I felt that it covered the basics and eased the group into the next phase of the social media space. It ran about 40 minutes and then there was a 20-minute Q & A period. It was during the Q & A that I came to the conclusion I reached in the headline of this post.

There were just two questions from a group of social media folks who were likely in the beginner-to-intermediate phase of the discipline. My sense was that these folks felt like they had the basics licked and there was no need to explore further. In my opinion, especially based on my own personal experience, this is flawed thinking and it can be dangerous. Here’s why.

When we feel that we have the basics of anything in life beat we get sloppy. Look at a professional football team that doesn’t practice the basics of blocking and tackling and you will see a losing team. It may not catch up with them right away, but over the long haul they will not be contending for any championships. Social media is still so new and the basics are actually still being defined. That means that any feeling you might have that you’ve got the basics perfected is the first step toward, as my teenage daughter would say, an “epic fail.”

I have over 20 years of business experience. I have been in the online space for the better part of 10 years. I am the managing editor of a rather successful Internet marketing blog on which I have written over 1,800 posts over the past three years and edited countless others and…guess what. I still don’t feel like I have mastered the basics of social media. in fact, I don’t think I EVER want to feel like I have, because the truth is that no one person can. Sure, you can call yourself a maven, a ninja, a superstar, or whatever you want, but that’s the show and not the go, as they say.

I have a simple recommendation to all of us in the social media space. Don’t ever feel like we have this thing beat. If we simply shrug off the basics and move on to the “cool stuff,” we might not be very pleased with the results. Maybe over the next few weeks I will talk about these basics and see if you agree with my assessment.

No matter what I do though, I think that this week I will be getting back to basics and, in effect, starting over, because I am realizing that I need to heed my own advice. Thanks for reading along as I worked this out for myself. As for you and yours? I hope you dive deep into the basics and see where you can get better. That’s pretty basic, isn’t it?

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