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My name's Joel Kelly and I live in Halifax, NS.

I'm a 20something guy doing digital and social media strategy for a Halifax-based marketing agency.

I'm a vegan nerd and marketing asshole.

You should follow me on Twitter.

Contact me about whatever (like, say, your marketing questions) at

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Social media IS NOT its networks

So stop saying it, please.

Your social media strategy is not to start using Flickr and Facebook to spread your message, okay?

First, a tactic is not a strategy.

Social media strategy is about figuring out, first of all, why people should care. It's what Mark Earls calls the "What For?" of a business:

"Put really simply, the Purpose-Idea is the "What For?" of a business, or any kind of community. What exists to change (or protect) in the world, why employees get out of bed in the morning, what difference the business seeks to make on behalf of customers and employees and everyone else? BTW this is not "mission, vision, values" territory - it's about real drives, passions and beliefs. The stuff that men in suits tend to get embarrassed about because it's personal. But it's the stuff that makes the difference between success and failure, because this kind of stuff brings folk together in all aspects of human life." -
So that's how a strategy begins. Now, if you can understand that, and still think that executing a strategy just has to be about using social or peer networks, you've still got a problem.

In the phrase Social Media, "social" is the keyword.

The media is interchangeable.

Social media can take place on the good old sneakernet.

The reason that social networks are used in social media is because they enable people to connect to so many people so quickly. But it's their usefulness that makes them so widely used for social media campaigns, not because the terminology or strategy necessarily demands it.

So please, stop writing what you think is your "social media strategy" by starting off with a list of websites you need to post your content on, as if the media will create the society. It won't.

Communities create networks, not the other way around.


Glenmore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joel Kelly said...

You can only fill in about half the blanks :)

This encompasses a number of issues I've deemed rant-worthy...

Andrea Hill said...

Thank you for writing this! So many people have realized that social media is powerful, but they don't get WHY it's powerful. As you state, it's not about the sites themselves. I repeatedly have to tell people (nicely) that "social media does not mean creating a youtube channel".

Joel Kelly said...

Glad you found the post helpful, Andrea! You're exactly right, too. People understand the power of networks, but so many don't seem to grasp the importance or purpose of them.

raha poostchi said...

Great post. I just miss the solution to this challenge. I know there is no real solution to this but at least some kind of hint. :)