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There’s a peculiar expression that accompanies World of Warcraft that needs to make its way into social media, and quickly:

Bring the player, not the class.

Warcraft playerIn Warcraft, there are different classes of players – mages, paladins, shamans, etc. Each of the classes has different traits suited to different kinds of players and playing styles. One of the most common sources of arguments, debate, and complaints is X class is better than Y class, to no one’s surprise.

Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind World of Warcraft, has said that it designs the game to be as balanced as possible, so that no one class is better or worse. The expression they use is bring the player, not the class, especially with regard to difficult challenges in the game.

Their belief is that a skilled player will make the most of the classes that suit their personal style of play best, and that a class in the hands of one player may be outstanding, while a different class may be a disaster. I know from personal experience that playing a frost mage suits my temperament and style best, and being a Death Knight tank, not so much.

Bring the player, not the class is the advice Blizzard gives to its guilds and groups in the game – find the best players you can, and class will sort itself out. Bring the best players you can, and you’ll defeat the enemies you’re to face.

So what does this have to do with social media?

Bring the producer, not the medium.

Which is better, Twitter or Friendfeed? Which is better, video or audio, blogging or podcasting, YouTube or Qik…

You get where I’m going. Your content will dictate which forms of social media you participate in (some content is better in one format than another), but what will govern your success is YOU, the producer. How skilled you are and what you’re most comfortable with will do more to contribute to your success than any given platform by itself.

Just as a Warcraft player’s spec (Blood vs. Unholy vs. Frost vs….) doesn’t make that player any better or worse, neither should your choice of medium make you any better or worse a media producer. Find the forms of media that best suit your style, content, and what you want to communicate. Try as many as you practically can to see what’s available, but recognize that some will feel better to you. Do those. Even if they’re currently unfashionable (podcasting was so 2005? Tell that to the listeners of the Financial Aid Podcast or Marketing Over Coffee) if they fit you best, you’ll create and produce media best in them.

More important, invest time in making yourself a better producer! Forget about being a social media expert. They’re a dime a dozen, if that (hey, it’s the Great Recession, everything’s on sale). Be an expert in a subject or field and use the best form of media available to communicate it, old or new, social or broadcast.

One of the best pieces of advice ever given to me was from my Edvisors CEO, Joe Cronin, who years ago said, don’t be a podcasting expert, be a financial aid expert who has a podcast. In terms of doing the most good and helping the most people, that advice has paid off handsomely. I know plenty of social media experts, gurus, wizards, whatever, and none of them have helped a family put their kid through college.

Bring the player, not the class is sage advice to guilds and raids in World of Warcraft.

Bring the producer, not the medium is the pathway to long-term success in media, social or otherwise.

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