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Forget the tools, think about the conversation

28th May 2009

Forget the tools, think about the conversation

Forget the tools, think about the conversation

Phew, it’s getting crowded in here!…New ways of connecting people are coming hard and fast with a handful of cool APIs a day being launched to connect to big social media networks and mobile devices as well as pure bred micro blogging tools (Twitter, Pownce, Tumblr, Jaiku, My Say, Hictu) and the new rash of ‘Gauge your happiness tools’ (Moodmill, I Rate My Day and Emotionr). In fact tools are being developed to help us manage all our social media tools more efficiently! The buzz is tangible, in fact it’s overpowering.

I was at a social media master class a couple of weeks ago that was hosted by Stowe Boyd, the guy who coined the term ‘Social Tools’. It was a warm up session for attendees to the outstanding Thinking Digital Conference (Book for 2010 now!). As the session went on it was clear the focus in the room, with the exception of JP Rangaswami (Confused of Calcutta) who spoke passionately about people engaging with people, was on the relative merits of tools and new social media platforms being developed.

This left me pondering, ‘Are we too focused on tools?’…

I hear people talking about social media in terms of setting up a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube channels and thinking that that is them ‘Doing’ social media, “Yeah, we’ve ticked that box!”.  In actual fact the tools facilitate the conversation, so what is the conversation about? Dig a little deeper, think a little longer about how your apply them to your business. What do you want to learn about your audience, who do you want to engage with? These are questions that we should all ask ourselves before we engage with people through these tools.

Don’t get me wrong I love some of these tools and we use them to great effect in our business but we’re fundamentally interested in what people talk about not what people talk on. What can I learn from listening to people that can help me make my service or product more relevant to my customers? Let’s not forget we’ve been communicating in one form or another since the dawn of mankind, so as we make big leaps forward in how we can facilitate new conversations try not to fixate too much on the tools.

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