JCL Blog

Social Media: a How or a What?

Yesterday I referenced Ric Merrifield's new book Re-Think where he helps companies see the difference between how things are done and what is being done.  Here is one of his early blog posts that will give you an idea for the concept.

Ric uses an example of someone sending a fax.  "What are you doing?" ... "Sending a Fax." (almost sounds like the "Making Copies" SNL bit.  He goes on to explain that people have a natural tendency to think that sending a fax (the how) is the actual value adding work -- when in fact it is just how the work is being done.

The fax is clearly old school now and that makes it a perfect illustration.  In fact, the fax is often used as an example of the value of the network effect -- the first owner of a fax machine could legitimately ask "Now what does this thing do?".

Social media is clearly a network, and it is clearly used for creating, organizing and tracking relationships and communicating broadly or directly with the people in those relationships.  Do these activities qualify as what we are trying to accomplish, or just how we are accomplishing something else?