One of the students in the course I teach on Advanced Social Media asked how in the world we are all expected to manage the tremendous number of services, tools, tactics, and ideas in social media. Various lists float around the Internet from supposed social media experts of the hundreds of different tools out there. New stuff gets announced on Mashable and Techcrunch faster than your poor mouse can scroll. How is someone supposed to keep up?

You’re not – and that’s more than okay, it’s the smart thing to do. Let’s change contexts to home improvement. Generally speaking, you go to a home improvement store because you have a home improvement problem or challenge. You want to fix something, build something, or paint something.

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When you get to the store, a home improvement expert doesn’t immediately begin telling you where everything in the store is. Chances are they’ll ask if they can help you and then direct you to the aisle in the store that has the stuff you’re looking for in order to solve your problem.

Generally speaking, if you don’t have a home improvement problem, no amount of stuff added to a store’s shelves is going to matter to you. Even if the store issued a press release touting how much was on the shelves, even if home improvement experts blogged about how they knew about every product in the store, if you didn’t have a problem, you wouldn’t care.

The same is true of social media. Figure out first if you have a problem that calls for a social media solution, and then worry about which tool, service, or tactic fits the bill. There’s a very good chance that there are much bigger overall issues you need to solve first, and then apply social media methods as part of an overall digital marketing strategy.

You as a homeowner are not obligated to know how to use every tool in the home improvement store. You just have to know where to go and how to ask for help when you have a home improvement problem. You as a marketer are not obligated to know how to use every social media tool available. You just have to know where to go and how to ask for help when you have a social media problem.

Finally, if you as a marketer think that telling the world about your latest features in your product or service is going to move the needle, ask yourself this: when was the last time you saw a home improvement store do a massive campaign about new stuff in aisle 18?


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