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Want to be a social media expert? Break stuff.

Recently I did something to that I thought I'd never do. For a couple of weeks, I switched the feed for from a full to a partial feed for subscribers. I *hate* reading blogs that publish partial feeds, because it forces me to click over to the blog to read the entire post.

So why would I do this to one of my own sites? Because I didn't *know* what would happen. I didn't know how readers would react. I didn't know if there would be fewer comments, or more. For the record, neither traffic nor comments seemed to be affected, so I switched the feed back to full.

That's the thing about social media, it's still new. For all the '10 Steps to Building a Better Blog/Facebook Fan Page/Twitter Presence' posts, we don't KNOW what all the rules are. And the people that use social media the most efficiently, are often the people that have broken the most stuff. They are the ones that tinker, that experiment. They constantly change their blog's layout, or the content on their Facebook page. One of the reasons why I love Twitter is because the way I use Twitter is constantly evolving. I am always tweaking and changing the way I use the tool to connect with other people.

Want to be a social media expert? Break stuff. Color outside the lines. Write longer posts than you usually do, write shorter ones. Ignore all the rules.

When you think you've mastered one tool, that's probably the best time to mix things up. I remember Kathy Sierra once wrote that experts are often the people that always think 'there must be a better way' to do something, no matter how 'good' they got at it.
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  • Apr 28 Posted 7 years ago TimBevins Good points. Your perspective made me think of the Wired magazine interview with Gates et al., in the May 2010 issue. The original hackers described by Steven Levy broke stuff to make it better, were never satisfied with the status quo of software, and shared with others. I like this approach to social media.
  •'s picture
    Apr 28 Posted 7 years ago

    Hi, Mack:

    I'm back for round two of comments; this post inspired my further thought on mastery, leadership and defining social media. The conversation needs some more thinking, though...please join it!

    "Social Media Thinking" at Wanted you to be aware.

    Jayme @Soulati

  • Apr 28 Posted 7 years ago SardarMohkimKhan1 I am lost at this, from where I am coming from social media is considered to be the next step of Traditional Marketing they will put up demands like -


    • Hey Impressive that you blog- can you get us 10,000 followers in two months?
    • What about pageviews for our site
    • I bet you can definitely improve our page rank and help us generate revenue
    I am sorry to say this, but many of them know jack shit about what exactly is social media branding is about.

    All this makes breaking rules next to impossible -

  • Apr 28 Posted 7 years ago BrianField Those Top 10 lists are a good place to start, but I agree that you need to experiment to really learn more about anything. Experimenting is where we gain knowledge in the first place. Along with that, those top 10 lists are what most people are doing already, so one shouldn't expect to above average if you're not taking any risks. Great points!
  •'s picture
    Apr 27 Posted 7 years ago Those who break, learn! No better example of having something that doesn't work and trying to tinker to fix it. When it's working, chalk one up to the learning queue.

    When things are working, then tackle the next beast. Mine are analytics and blogging SEM.
  • Apr 27 Posted 7 years ago DannyBrown (not verified) Of course, just breaking stuff doesn't an expert you make ;-)

    But solid points, Mack (and funnily enough, similar to something I wrote this morning). We don't learn by doing what everyone else is and not changing it up - we only grow by messing, tinkering (as you say) and then using that knowledge to go and tinker some more. :)

  • Apr 27 Posted 7 years ago JoeBlend

    I agree. We are still defining what social media is and how it "should" be used. My career is in creative communication: I've worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, fine artist, writer, and editor. I take one look at social media and I see a ton of potential that is nowhere close to being tapped. For example, as a writer, I use my Twitter account to publish narratives in 140 character increments; I save one or two updates for between stories. While that's not an innovative way to use Twitter, it is different...compared to the thousands upon thousands of Twitter sites that use it for news and updates.

    My point is that social media has reached a plateau. It's found a comfortable spot and its users have jumped on the same bandwagon with a one-way ticket. When people start tucking and rolling as they jump off at more interesting destinations, that's when social media will begin its ascent to a new plateau.

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