Don't Be A Tool

At ASAE & The Center's Social Media Workshop, one of the participants asked a question that got a bit under my skin: how do we migrate our members out of the listserve and into these new tools? I responded in the session that maybe they don't need to be migrated. Jeff De Cagna had just made the important point that social media is not about the tools--it is about solving problems for members. So I suggested that if people are getting their problems solved using a listserve, then so be it! Now, I also think that some members may not be aware of the problem solving potential of some other tools, so there is still room to give them that opportunity. But the idea of "migrating" as a transitive verb (that is, you migrate me) bugged me.

Maybe it's a Generation X thing (you know, cynical, independent...), but I don't want to be migrated. It's called "social media," not "tool media." There are some examples where a tool got my attention on its own (Google Wave), but usually I start using a tool because someone I know invited me. I don't want to be migrated to your new community portal. I don't want to log into your new site and get a new barrage of emails from you.

But I want to stay connected to Peggy. I want to be able to collaborate with Jeff. I want to know what KiKi is up to. I want my friends to invite me to a new site. I don't care whose site it is. I care that my friends invited me. 

So think "social" before you think "tool." Work didn't used to be that social, but now it is (as Jeff says, social is a way of being). So stop trying to figure out the best tool. (And, as an aside, toolmakers, stop trying
to sell yourselves as the best tool. If I were you, I’d be the most flexible. I
would own the most domain names. I would offer the most products, because it is
your ability to make sense to the very decentralized masses that is going to
drive success. But that's neither here nor there.)

That’s how you will win me over: by giving me the
experience—with my friends—that I crave. By giving me that experience in the
context of work. By making my work life more alive. That’s worth its weight in

Come to think of it, why aren’t more bosses thinking that
way, even if they don’t offer community portals?


Let's Talk About Workplace Culture


  1. 17.11.2009 at 11:34 am

    Good thoughts Jammie. Seems that the “migrate” partly stems from all those questions we’re getting about ROI.
    Social media is about engagement with members and potential members. Its about establishing community.
    Just today, I had a conference call with a “Twitter buddy” to help on a case study I’m doing for the ASAE Great Ideas Conference. I didn’t know him before we met on Twitter. And, now we’re part of a community of folks working on TweetUps and Twestivals as a means of both community building and fund-raising.

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