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.