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Are you bored in social media?

Are you bored in marketing?

Are you bored of reading the same stuff each and every day on every blog and Twitter feed?

Microsoft ExcelI see this daily. I see lots of authors, lots of marketing practitioners who feel stagnant, who feel as though they’re not making progress, not getting the results they want, not going anywhere with their efforts or careers. Some express it as a sort of desperation, chasing after every new thing that appears on Mashable. Others express it as a bitter cynicism, saying that everything is the same old thing.

Here’s the funny part: the new thing is right in front of you, right now. You see, what’s new isn’t what’s on the pages of Mashable or Techcrunch. What’s new is what you haven’t tried yet. Foursquare is old hat? Not until you’ve tried it, tested it, and seen whether it makes a difference for your company or not. Twitter is yesterday’s news? Not until you’ve made some part of it work for you, generate some verifiable, repeatable result.

A hammer is nothing new. Hammers have been around for millennia. Yet amazingly, we still manage to build plenty of new, awesome things with hammers every day. There are a finite number of ways to use a hammer intelligently, yet new stuff comes from their use all the time.

Here’s a quick challenge to see whether you’re ready for the new thing right in front of you. Today, go to any one of your social networks that has a data export capability and hit the Export button. Open the resulting file in your spreadsheet software of choice and go data dredging, as Tom Webster says. Data dredging is a poor practice for developing actionable metrics or proving anything, but it’s a great practice for expressing curiosity and trying to look at things in a new way. See what’s in there, see what you can make it tell you, see what stuff you never knew about. Then use that dredged up data to give you some new ideas.

For example, I dredged up my Twitter followers numbers, mentions and retweets, email list subscriptions, and Google Analytics new visitors numbers, and I’m just playing around mashing them together with the correlation function, just playing mix and match, to see what it tells me. So far, I’ve been really surprised by some of what I’ve found (but that’s another blog post). Does that mean I go and change how I use social media? No. But it means I have a whole new series of questions to ask, ideas to investigate, and experiments to try. Something as old as email or a Twitter account is brand new again, and I’m excited to get new answers to new questions, even if they’re about “old” tools.

The new thing is waiting there in front of you. Will you reach out and grab it?

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14 responses to “The new thing”

  1. I’ve had a post drafted up on this subject for quite some time Chris, but haven’t found a way to put it so succinctly. I couldn’t agree more – Testing and iterating are so much more interesting that bitching about the death of digital!

  2. I’ve had a post drafted up on this subject for quite some time Chris, but haven’t found a way to put it so succinctly. I couldn’t agree more – Testing and iterating are so much more interesting that bitching about the death of digital!

  3. Al Pittampalli Avatar
    Al Pittampalli

    Great post, Chris. I agree, if you’re bored with social media, you’re just not trying hard enough. Social media are just tools, and there are an infinite number of ways to use them (most of which we haven’t even thought of yet). It’s fascinating to see what will happen next in the space.

  4. Good read, Chris. Often we may try a new thing only to find that it breathes new life into some process or tool that we’ve been using for a very long time; pleasant surprises like this are great and often serve to multiply the “same stuff’s” impact, or, take it in a completely new direction.

    Never forget that history repeats itself… The King is dead. Long live the King!

    1. And when you think about it, it makes total sense. The human being hasn’t really evolved all that much in 10,000 years. The stuff that worked then continues to work now. The tactics change, but the strateges are timeless.

  5. Hi, Nice post. This hammer analogue……is an eye-opener. Let me go back and do new stuff with the old tools. The New Zing Thing…..

  6.  Avatar

    Indeed, the answers may well be right in front of us. I devote a portion of my time to data dredging. But my new trick to seeing what else is out there is to speak out on what I’m up to, whether on Twitter, blogs, Quora, etc. When you put yourself out there, insightful people will seek you out and give you all kinds of ideas.

  7. Great article that accurately describes where I have been in recent times.  I plan to take the data drudge challenge and see what I can find out.  DO You? 

  8. Great post Christopher! There’s always something new and interesting to learn and try. Just by looking at things in a different way we can be struck with that genius lightning bolt. 
    While I don’t do it in the way you described above, I do have my own methods. Working for a social media monitoring and analytics company I have access to a fantastic set of tools that always show me something new and interesting. Just by looking at some of our tools everyday I can see what’s on people’s minds by what they’re talking about. Sometimes it’s the same things, but every once and a while I catch a new trend happening or new way to look to look at my community. I think that I learn something new everyday. Sometimes these are new things I can act on and sometimes they’re just interesting pieces of knowledge I can keep tucked away until the timing is right to use it. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but I’m learning through a tool that I use every day.
    There’s always something new out there, even if it isn’t really new. Sometimes we just need to look differently at something.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  9. I tell my clients to do this all the time. It’s not a matter of “being cool” it’s about doing what has worked for them before, and keep doing what works, while ditching the old stuff. 

  10. Marnie Hughes Avatar
    Marnie Hughes

    Thanks for another great post, Christopher. I am the opposite of bored. I’m so darn excited about all the stuff to try that I’m starting to wish for a 26 hour day!

  11. Just bought your book and I am excited to grow my business online also!  I found your PDF and it is so clear to help me with Business strategy for marketing my Wellness product line. Thanks so much for your help.

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