Useful vs. Useless Media

by Jay Deragon on 09/03/2010

What is the difference between useful and useless media?  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 Your Media 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
  6. Learn social media marketing tricks: Sorry, I don’t do tricks!
  7. Make $10,000 dollars a week from this new MLM program: Sorry, I make money the hard way!

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

Social Illusions of Worth

Often (more often than we like to admit), someone will ask us a question about the value of social media. With exception of a few innovative companies and individuals most of the “crowds” use is propagating hyped up messages to make themselves seem important or to try and trap people into a transaction.  The bulk of the messages are useless while the minority is useful.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that people’s  illusion of usefulness  leads many people and organizations down the wrong path, because they think they understand something that is useful when in fact it is useless. You see people somehow think that because they use things they must after all possess the intellectual capacity to understand that which they use is in fact useless. Consider how most organizations and people are using 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 understanding what is useful vs. useless! In other words they end up doing useless things vs. finding ways to be useful.

Social media appears to be falling into the useless 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.

The innovative possibilities of using social technology are endless yet limited to a few who think beyond the crowds“. While the “wisdom of crowds” is indeed a valuable pool to tap into you have to use wisdom to discern between what is useful vs. useless. To do so you must stand outside the crowd and think what would really be useful to the crowd. If you stand inside the crowd you will find yourself lost in useless activities. Stand outside the crowd and figure out what would be useful and the crowd will follow.

I hope you found this useful!

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