The Internet is Full of Tools

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It’s probably more accurate to say “the internet is a collection of swiss army knives”, but Blogging 101 says a catchy title is crucial to success.

Back in the day, the Internet was a simpler place. Your company had a website with static content about whatever your business was. Maybe you had a blog, but that was only if your business really lended itself to regular content updates or you were just a chatty sort of person.

Then things started getting complicated and Top 5 lists that over-simplified complicated concepts started appearing everywhere you turned.

  • You MUST be in social media.
  • You MUST put out a blog post every week–make that day –make that hour.
  • You MUST have interactive content on your website
  • Stuff your posts with keywords, who cares if it’s legible
  • Your website isn’t as important as your Facebook page

It’s more complicated than that. But there is an important thing to keep in mind: the internet is full of tools. And tools are great, but there are lots of different ways you can use them and lots of different things you can build with. And if you’re not careful, you can run into the Law of the Instrument.

Sidebar: I had no idea that was a thing that had a fancy title like that. I just thought it was one of those “quotes” where nobody says it quite right, but when I went to see if there was a “right” way to say it or an actual person to quote, I found that. God bless you, Wikipedia!

When you’re faced with a challenge you want the internet to solve, don’t start by looking at the tools. Start by looking at the problem. Are you looking to boost your SEO? Are you trying to get people talking about you? Are you trying to get better reviews? Are you trying to find folks that already like you and get them to love you? Recruit them to help you get better? Are you looking to get your online audience to visit you offline (or the reverse)?

Then, look at your tools and look at how well you already know how to use them. How easy can you meet your goals with the tools you have? Is it time to learn a new one? Weigh what you already know how to do (in this case I’m talking about your familiarity with and/or presence in certain platforms) with what you need to learn, change or add to your tool box.

You need a concrete example, don’t you?

Great. Let’s talk about Google+. You’re probably hearing a lot about how important it is to “be on Google+”. And it is. But if you (and the key decision makers in your company) are only looking at Google+ as a social media platform, then you have to be wondering how it can possibly be as important as Facebook or Twitter, or even something like Pinterest.

It’s understandable. Every day we hear about how it’s “the fastest growing social media platform” but unless you’re a part of very specific communities, you probably aren’t on it, personally. You probably don’t know anyone who is on it actively. I mean, we all have accounts right? If you have a Gmail account, you have a Google+ account, but nobody actually uses it right? Certainly not like Facebook. So why is it so important?

There are lots of ways to leverage Google+ to meet your company’s goals. One is social media. Another is for attracting positive reviews. The third (and most important in many cases), is for SEO value. At the end of the day, Google uses Google+ and they want you to, too. Having a small presence on Google+ helps give your website a boost in search results. Doing a few bare-minimum content updates gives you a significant edge over competitors that aren’t even there.

It’s not intended to take the place of your existing social media efforts by any means, but it’s not meant to. That’d be like trying to turn a screw with a butterknife.

But you’re going to want that butterknife the next time you’re craving PB&J.

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