There are no rules in social media, be a guide, not an expert
The latest trend in the Twitterverse seems to be one of rules, rules, rules. This trend toward a kind of social media home owner’s association is driven in part by ego and part by a desire for control and power, and it goes against the grain of social media.
Social media and the internet it plays on is organic by nature. Organic concepts scare the pants off of people and companies, especially big enterprise. After so many decades of an economy based on control, this constantly changing, shifting and, above all else, accessible new media has the mental suit wearers cowering in fear.
Over and over again in recent weeks I have cringed in my chair as I watch people on Twitter, Plurk, FaceBook, FriendFeed and other services ask “Well fine, what are the rules, then?” in reply to comments like “you Tweet too much” or “you’re doing ___ wrong”. The only acceptable answer to that question is that social media is inherently organic and personal, even for companies using it, and there are no rules.
You can’t force your rules onto someone else in social media because they may not be using social media tools for the same purpose or in the same way that you do. Whether your tool of choice is Twitter, Plurk or even the much maligned MySpace, each person or company uses each tool in a different way, for a different purpose, that is inherently unique. The beauty of social media, and what I believe will ensure its success, is that it allows for this individuality and keeps working – it grows and changes with any type of use.
It is my opinion that the organic nature of social media is a very basic type of user driven artificial intelligence. By being able to shift on the fly with the people who use it independent of rules, social media becomes more powerful. Enact rules and regulations and limits on how people use it and the growth of this internet infant is stunted. People tend to want to control what they don’t understand. In social media, where the near daily changes preclude “experts” and “gurus” and lend themselves more toward “guides” instead, people used to a hierarchy of competition find themselves lost.
These lost bureaucrats will always try to dampen your style and control the world around them, even when they don’t understand it. They were the hall monitors in school, the tattle tales, the puritans. If social media users concentrate on the team building and community building that is currently going on, and make a concerted effort to change the landscape of ebusiness from that of the expert, always competing, to that of a guide, always leading and learning, social media will thrive. It is up to the users of social media to use it in whatever way works for them, exercising common courtesy and ignoring the naysayers.
My original version found at Profy site