Social Media, Philosophy, Tools, or Both?

Social Media Tools or Philosophy?

When I talk with people about social media, I talk about it more as a philosophy than a tool.  So what is it?

Is social media anything that uses social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.? Or is it a company or personal philosophy about having and valuing two way conversations with people? Or is it both?

My contention is that social media is a set of tools that should be used to implement a communications philosophy. The problem is that if your communication philosophy or strategy is flawed, the tools will not help you and may harm you.

As I sit here and watch Top Gear, it makes me think of an analogy. Implementing social media without the right philosophy is like driving and F1 car without the proper training. You have the best tools in the world, but without the proper strategy and training, you’re either gonna sit their trying to figure out how to start it, or you won’t be able to control the power and you may kill yourself.

So instead of talking about tools, lets talk about the philosophy. Let’s figure out ways to show companies the value of two way communications with both customers and employees. Make them crave and desire those conversations. Once that is accomplished they will seek out the tools on their own.

Social media tools will come and go. If we concentrate on teaching how to use Facebook and Twitter, and those go the way of Friendster what are we accomplishing in the long term? Plus can you really get someone to use these tools correctly, if they don’t buy into the premise behind them in the first place?

Goal number one needs to be to get the philosophy understood and bought into. Goal number two should be to teach them how to use the tools to implement their communication strategy.

I’ve seen enough social media implementations, these tools are better than that.

Communication 2.0 needs to come before Web 2.0.


  • Scott Harris

    Great post. This is precisely where we're at at Brooklake. Trying to “sell” the tools available today without taking the time to help others see the value in using them is pointless. Thanks for the reminder to be patient.

  • kevinurie

    Thanks Scott! Sometimes I need to follow my own advice as well. It's hard to not just take the easy way out, and say implement this tool, and do this.

    Problem is you never know what might develop, that your quick instructions did not prepare them for. It could be great and help sell the philosophy or it could be horrible and ruin it forever.

  • Trevor Rotzien

    Kevin, thanks for making it perfectly clear: “My contention is that social media is a set of tools that should be used to implement a communications philosophy.” I know there was some contention on Twitter about tool versus philosophy, but in 140 chars, it's easy to be misunderstood, or have the depth of a briefly expressed idea underestimated.

    As a Product Manager, it gets more and more instinctive for me to work back from a customer need or opportunity, and identify the tool in light of a clear understanding of the value that must be delivered.

    As you use the word, perhaps philosophy is a strategy that ties together many units of value (reputation, leads, etc), and that strategy can be satisfied by the deliberate and thoughtful use of tools.

  • kevinurie


    Are you going to get me started on a philosophy/strategy discussion as well? :?)

    I had an old co-worker who was big into telling me the differences between the two. Don't know if I particularly care in this instance.

    How about this, understand your communication philosophy and use it to developing a strategy that uses the tools to execute your communication goals.


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    Great article and I agree with you that …………. Thanks for the tips!

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    Tackling New Business Development in a Social Media World …. both for marketing and learning social media techniques that can be employed … organizations personality and (my word) philosophy about how you do business …

  • web development Rochester

    I couldn't agree more, social media isn't a tool where in we just put it there and works for itself, social media is about interaction, it is how we face other people in order to achieve their trust and also build our reputation..

  • Salar

    Nice analogy about the F1 car.



  • Salar

    Nice analogy about the F1 car.



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