Social: Useful vs. Useless

by Jay Deragon on 07/13/2010

Lets take an exam. How many people using social are useful to you? How many are useless to you?

Lets do  another exam. How many organizations using social are useful to you? How many are useless?

Now define what defines your answers to these questions. Is your definition useful to you individually or your organization?. If not then your answers are useless!

What Are Useless Uses?

We could probably fill textbooks, whoops, digital pages of useless examples of people and organizations using social media uselessly.

Useless means having or being of no use and not able to give service or aid. Being able to comprehend useless means you have to understand useful.

Useful means a capable of being put to use, serviceable for an end or purpose, of a valuable or productive kind. Key word here is PRODUCTIVE!

What Makes You Useful?

We hear and see people claiming to be “gurus” of “how to” do everything, anything and with anyone and everyone using this thing called “social media”.  You see it in articles, updates everywhere and direct messages on Twitter. Consider these non-stop proclamations:

  1. Get the best SEO Engine on the planet: Why?
  2. Get tons of Twitter followers: Why?
  3. Learn from this expert: Expert about What?
  4. Get the experts book here: Just what I need another book!
  5. Join this webinar NOW!: Excuse me, NOW belongs to me

And then everybody thinks they are really your friend with messages like:

  1. Thanks for following me, connect with me on Facebook here: Why?
  2. Thanks for being my friend, follow my blog here: Why?
  3. For awesome blog traffic go here: Why?
  4. I’d like to connect with you: Why?
  5. Hey friend, Get (name the product) at % discount: Didn’t know I needed it!

With proclamations like these one wonders 1) is anyone managing anything useful 2) is anyone learning anything useful?

Social Illusions of Explanatory Depth

Often (more often than we like to admit), someone will ask us a question about how social media works, or why it works the way it does. We begin to answer, initially confident in our knowledge, only to discover that we are entirely clueless. We are then embarrassed by our  ignorance of our own ignorance.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the illusion of explanatory depth leads many people and organizations down the wrong path, because they think they understand something that lies outside of their expertise when they don’t. You see management somehow thinks that because they manage things they must after all possess the intellectual capacity to understand that which they claim to manage. Consider how most organizations are managing this thing called social media. They are applying old knowledge in the use and misuse of something new and innovative. They fail before they start because of an illusion of explanatory depth! In other words they end up doing useless things vs. finding ways to be useful.

Organization of labor, knowledge and activity has become a management obsession. Management screams “what is the process?” then institutes a series of processes as policies thinking that is useful. After a while processes pile up upon processes and management and labor forget the intent of a process and then it become a useless bureaucratic process that isn’t useful to the organizations intent. Social media appears to be falling into the same wasteland.

To be useful to the market you must align your intent with what the market considers useful.  Who needs more friends or messages that are not useful? Time and productivity are wasted when spent on useless messages and people who do not have similar intents.


Jennifer N Deal July 28, 2010 at 1:37 am

RT @JDeragon: Social: Useful vs. Useless ##socialmedia ##socialstrategy ##socialbusiness

Leala July 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm

The illusion of explanatory depth, the application of old ways of doing things to the new: Use vs Usefulness

marco July 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm

RT @nielvanmeeuwen: #SocialMedia: Useful vs. Useless A Must-Read, Very Profound!

J.L.Nawan July 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

RT @SocialNetDaily: #SocialMedia: Useful vs. Useless A Must-Read, Very Profound! Enjoy 🙂

Brinworks July 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

RT @kenbanks: #SocialMedia: Useful vs. Useless A Must-Read, Very Profound! Enjoy 🙂 #web20

Danielle Uskovic July 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

@marketingbyDM interesting article thx for sharing RT @SocialNetDaily: #SocialMedia: Useful vs. Useless

Konrad Bugiera July 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

RT @SocialNetDaily: #SocialMedia: Useful vs. Useless A Must-Read, Very Profound! Enjoy 🙂

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