As soon as anyone using social media does something different it seems that everyone copies what they are doing. When someone copies anything, a product, a service, a technique or a conversation the result is the same, nothing new.
The irony of a copy mentality is that is fails. Why? Because, not unlike following or connecting to the wrong people, copying doesn’t produce anything new, innovative or unique. Copying reflects a lack of thinking, creativity and it doesn’t make you, your business, product or service stand out amongst the crowd.
Counterfeiting or Copying?
A counterfeit product or service is an imitation. The word counterfeit frequently describes both the forgeries of currency and documents, as well as the imitations of processes or knowledge created and used by others. If conversations represent or lead to the currency of a transaction then one wonders how many online conversations are counterfeit. You can tell what is a counterfeit by the intent and integrity of content represented by the character of the person or organization “pushing” content.
Copying what other people do can be consider counterfeiting. On the other hand copying the process of using something can become original when you find ways to use it uniquely or in a way that is original to you and your purpose.
When Copying Doesn’t Work
The reason copying can create failure isn’t because they didn’t make a good enough copy it is because they mistook copying the process for copying the business. People don’t understand the difference between what they can replicate and what they cannot.
You Can’t Copy Knowledge
Copying what other people do is the easy part. The hard part is using the knowledge properly so you can create a differential. In the case of people duplicating what you do, they usually fail because they lack the knowledge of “how and what” makes a difference. They don’t seem to realize that even if you were to copy, using something effectively is different than copying what other do. The actual management and execution of social media is what separates one company success from another.
What and how you do something is what drives your company toward success.
If your plan is to copy someone’s use of social media you had better have a much better plan for execution than they do. You’ll often find that copying social media methods isn’t enough. When people find your business (and your people) within social media it is the content and context that creates the relevancy to their needs. Creating content in context to people’s needs requires knowledge of how, where, when, what, who and why which is very difficult to copy. See our how series.
Social Media will always be Copied
If you have found a new way to use social media you can pretty much guarantee someone will copy it. But your concern shouldn’t be whether or not you will be copied, it should be whether or not the person copying you is better at delivering content and conversations that attract your market away from you.
To some degree you can think of people copying you as a favor. The more people try and copy your knowledge the better your knowledge looks by comparison. Why? Because knowledge of effective and efficient social media directions isn’t something that can be easily learned from copying. Rather knowledge is unique to the individual who uses it and applies it over and over in a never ending cycle of learning.
Poor use of social media has made the marketplace look artificially saturated to those just entering. Thus the marketplace of “use” ends up copying what others are doing thinking that social media is just another channel and doesn’t require original thought. Original thought and the creation of valuable content and unique experiences requires thinking. Thinking takes time and effort. Copying doesn’t.
Social media counterfeits are those that copy, or try to copy, the how, what, when, where and why of what others think without thinking. Think again. Copy that?
What say you?