The Social Web: Learning to Use a New Tool

boy-toolsThe social web is full of free information. Many people forego formal training in favor of copying what they see others’ doing. We sometimes do this ourselves—once you have a strong base of knowledge in a specific area, it is quite reasonable to look at others’ tips or code and be able to reverse engineer them quite successfully to meet your own goals.

But when you are new to something? It’s like a child copying their parents: a lot of it sounds right, but fundamentally you don’t want that kid building your house. The best teachers know how to explain to you the logic behind a task as well as the most efficient order of events to launch your project.

Copying (as compared to learning) when you are a newcomer is often not the ideal route to take. Though I know, it is incredibly appealing, especially if you feel like you are in a hurry. But if time is truly an issue, you will be better served to learn it well the first time. It’s worth considering if a penny saved will quickly become a pound foolish.

Copiers are more than likely to:

  • learn bad habits;
  • create hacks that seem to work but actually misuse some of the key elements that could make your life easier;
  • waste a lot of time doing, undoing, and redoing when you could be making money and building relationships;
  • experience low success rates and blame it on the tool instead of your lack of learning;
  • quit before you’ve really given it a fair chance.

In my opinion this definitely explains the sharp drop off rates from Twitter. It also explains the abundance of howto content and training programs that are proliferating on the web. Just like choosing a competent web developer (or any expertise in which you yourself are not literate), it’s not easy to choose a competent social media trainer/consultant.

It’s very important that you look at their assets and Google them for proof of past work. Ask for client referrals and contact them. Look for evidence of their membership in professional associations and examine those associations too. You will be taking the first step in educating yourself just by going through this process.

Then by all means work with a professional instead of trying to figure all this out yourself! I used to say to reluctant businesses, “Don’t stress; the internet isn’t going away and you have time to figure things out.” Now I say, “Get on it! The learning curve of new tools and core changes that are taking place in the business culture are growing too fast to stay on the sidelines. Every day you wait, just makes it harder for you once you decide to get started on the social web.

With Aloha,