Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring

Isn’t it time we started telling bigger stories than this? Impact by Josh Fisher (@calabash11)

When Julien Smith and I wrote The Impact Equation, we had a very specific goal in mind: help people get attention, understanding, and eventually a relationship of value. We built the book around the premise that well-defined goals were needed to craft ready-to-understand ideas, and that people could build a platform to spread those ideas to a network of people who cared enough to share those ideas with others. That’s the simplest possible summary of the book.

What people maybe thought they were getting was a book about social media and social networks, about marketing and campaigns. Some people believe that’s what Julien and I do. Social media are a set of tools. They’re not all that interesting to talk about in and of themselves. The “gee whiz” has left the station. We want to talk about action– or if you’ll pardon the self-reference, impact.

There are details and technologies you must master if you want to succeed. But that’s the keyboard-level and tactical part of what you’ll do. We wanted to give you something more encompassing.

The strategies around and behind The Impact Equation boil down to 5 Cs.


If you can’t convey your ideas in a way that stands out (Contrast), that are simple (Articulation), and that resonate with an audience (Echo), the game is over before you begin. So, The Impact Equation is a book about communication.


If you don’t start building a platform of value around ideas that are easy to share (Reach), those ideas won’t get around and get a lot of attention (Exposure). The Impact Equation is a book that talks about how to tell bigger stories.


Where people have the most ground to make up is in nurturing a network of people who care about what you choose to share. Without relationship-minded effort (Trust and Echo), you won’t likely get beyond capturing people’s attention for a little while. Meaning, people won’t be inclined to share. The Impact Equation is definitely a book about community.


We don’t write much about how to make money in this book. Both Julien and I have been successful in our businesses, and we’ve both helped other companies succeed with a lot of the tactics and strategies covered in this book. But this is a book about business and leadership and value-generation and extraction. Make no mistake, The Impact Equation is a book about commerce.

Customer Service

I believe in the principle of Service Craftsmanship, that service begins before a prospect has even become a customer. We talk a lot about how to nurture relationships (Trust) and how that sets you apart from people who don’t treat every touchpoint as a chance for service excellence (Contrast). There’s also the realization that if we treat people the way we want to be treated (Echo), we will earn more of an opportunity to serve. The Impact Equation is most definitely a book about customer service.

Why Talking About Social Media Got Boring

It’s boring to talk simply about the tools because the tools are just a way to reach people. We can argue the details endlessly (I don’t believe much in Klout, for instance), and we can announce the premature death of Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook and whoever. But it doesn’t matter. When we talk about restaurants (the tools), we mostly talk about the food (the content). When we talk about bands (tools), we talk about whether the music resonates (the content). When we talk about a good book (the content), we never ask what type of computer it was written on (the tools).

Should you put ads on Facebook? If that’s the worry point, you’ve got bigger worries. Is Pinterest worth your time? Who knows? Should you schedule your tweets? (Some of them!) What’s the company comment policy? Well, okay, that last one has some merit, but put it to rest and move on.

How I Apply The Five Cs and The Impact Equation Mindset to My Business

In all I do, I use these five concepts above as guideposts to approach success. When I’m working on a new product, like a course on writing, I think about how to communicate about the course before, during, and after the experience. I consider what kind of content will be involved. I determine how to build a community around each product experience, especially because Human Business Works believes that we need to deliver a vision, a plan, and a community of support for you to be successful. I consider how this product or service I’m creating should be priced and what value is reasonable to extract for the amount of value I’m creating. And I have very strong principles around how we go about customer service for each project.

When approaching business-making, I’d say these are the five aspects I work on the most. I look at marketing, sales, and service as a shared/hybrid role, where everyone has a part to play in the experience. I’d also say that these are the business aspects that we’ve tucked into The Impact Equation underneath it all.

How You Apply That Mindset to Your Business

From figuring out how to better articulate a contrasting idea that encourages trust and echoes the feelings of your prospective buyer to understanding how to get more exposure and reach from the platforms you choose to create or utilize, our premises line up nicely to marketing, sales, and service. Is it easy for people to contact you? Do you make it easy for them to buy from you? What have you missed in the process of shaping your ideas to fit their language and mindset? Do you have a plan for when and what and where to share your information? Whether you’re pinning or tweeting or poking or just putting a chalk sign out on a street corner, the attributes that make up The Impact Equation, are about delivering value.

Oh, and We Believe in Recipes

Both Julien and I set out to write a book full of actionable takeaways. We believe that there are lots of great books that stop right after the ideas and theories come out, but that don’t push you to take some actionable steps. Given Julien’s work on The Flinch, a book dedicated to getting us to take action, we both felt strongly that The Impact Equation should be written with a strong eye towards encouraging you to make something happen.

You can get the book in hardcover and digital formats, and the audiobook is almost ready to come out (really any day now), and I should let you know that the majority of my 2013 plan involves helping professionals from companies of all sizes to get more leads, sales, and satisfied customers via the principles in this book (and a few other concepts that make up the Human Business Way). If you want a head start on your success in the coming year, consider picking up The Impact Equation. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Robert Rizzo

    Funny, we see this pattern over and over. Every time a new technology comes out we confuse the technology with the product. You’re right on. The key is creating value and building a group of people who care about that value. Looking forward to reading the book!

    • Chris Brogan

      Yep. : ) Glad you and I agree, Robert. Well, it’d be okay if we didn’t. But you know…

  • @alfombra06

    Best post about Social Media in Ages. Thanks!

  • AlGetler

    Thanks for this post, Chris. The term you use to describe customer service, service craftsmanship, still leaves a lot of people with a huge gap to overcome in the echo department. Whether online or during an encounter at your local coffee place, people fail to make the connection that is required to truly portray craftsmanship.

    If service were craftsmanship as in a wood shop, there would a lot less fingers in the world. I have seen many in the “people” business saw right through customers and contacts without regard for the craftsmanship customer service requires.

    I have already written that I enjoyed Impact Equation a great deal and that it should be purchased and read. The graphic above now requires a t-shirt. Nothing ever real has ever happened that didn’t result in a t-shirt.

    Thanks for helping me with my blog journey. I am a bit late to the party, but having fun.

    • Chris Brogan

      No question. But that’s why I bring it up. I think it’s something to strive towards. Hmmm, about the tee shirt, maybe I’ll do that. : )

    • Rose D’Andrea

      Great visual, with the “there would be a lot less fingers in the world.”

      It’s so true! Customers are People, and if you try to take that aspect out of the equation, you won’t be seeing much addition happening on your bank statement.

  • Rick Banas

    Chris. I am reminded on my experience at Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, back in the early 1980s. The hospital had three centers of excellence. The Heart and Cancer programs had a regional REACH and the Emergency Department a local REACH. For the heart and cancer programs, we launched an advertising campaign using the TOOL of Radio to REACH those most likely to benefit from these programs. We wanted to let them know why What Made These Programs Different, Made Them Better – CONTRAST,

    The hospital was featured in news stories in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Cable New Network about why hospitals were “Advertising.”

    If we had simply used the traditional TOOLS used by hospitals of featuring these Centers of Execellence in a story on the front page of the hospital’s quarterly magazine or creating a brochure, we would not have been able to generate the REACH needed for a regional program.

    The “New TOOL” for hospitals of Radio Advertising for specific hospital services was simply a much more cost-effective was for us to REACH a very specific target audience with a very specific message.

    • Chris Brogan

      It makes perfect sense to me. And I love how you laid it out with the Impact Equation. BTW, I double dog love that you mentioned it being about radio, which has been declared dead since the 1950s. : )

  • Philipp Knoll

    This must be the best written book marketing article ever written. It clearly advertises your book but does so while delivering value along with the marketing message.

    You totally convinced me to get the audio version as soon as you have it published.

    I’m looking forward to work it through and see what I can put to action. Will you announce the audio version on Twitter? By when do you think you’ll be publishing it?


    • Chris Brogan

      You’re very kind. I was worried that it was a little too “talk about the book” heavy, but given I was working on a keynote while writing that, I just had that heavily on my mind.

  • Nick Cicero

    I really like how you use the phrase “tell bigger stories.” Now will there be some original Brogan jams on the audiobook soundtrack?

    • Chris Brogan

      Not just yet, but keep an eye out for it. @jcqly and I have a project coming up. : )

      • Nick Cicero


  • JosephRatliff

    The impact you make is soooo much deeper than social media, or how you use social media.

    And, I loved the “make money with a telephone” illustration. :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Well thanks! I’m glad it resonated. : )

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  • Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    This has got to be one of the most compelling arguments for buying a book that I have ever read. There is much for me to learn about modeling what you’ve done with this piece. I would call this effective and efficient content at its finest. :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks! : )

  • Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Chris, you did an excellent job pitching your book! The themes of content and community resonate strongly with me. I do agree that in the end, tools are there to facilitate but they do not initiate the process. For example, Kickstarter is a great service but it is only as successful for the individual as the strength of their networks. One of the best ways to build online relationships and communities is by engaging in conversations.

    • Chris Brogan

      We agree completely. I’ve watched low-dollar Kickstarter projects fail and I’ve seen high dollar ones win. It’s the people, not the platform.

  • Ajax Woolley

    One aspect of the Community question I’m eager to work on in 2013 is setting goals for the size and density. It seems it would be very easy to confuse “Exposure” with “number of followers, etc…”, but I think you mean “amount of attention paid”. For example, as I’m writing, the post has 15 comments and 420 reactions… both are good, but one without the other is like mustard without mayo.

    • Chris Brogan

      Comments don’t pay me. Exposure is how often people get your message so that it starts sinking in. Think advertising.

      • Matt Antonino

        You can’t expect us to break the WHOLE box at once. :)

        • Chris Brogan

          Well okay. Small bites. : )

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  • Golap Mohi Uddin

    It’s true. I am agree!

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  • Michael Trow

    Chris, this truly puts things into perspective. We often talk about content content content but not in the context or with the examples you offer. Thanks!

    • Chris Brogan

      And ultimately, it’s people. Always people. : )

  • seo

    Great post.

  • Patricia Wilson

    Great post! I’m bored by all the “tool talk” in social media. The companies doing well with social media have done two things: found a simple idea and built integrated plans (community) around that idea. A least that is what I observe in the Branding and Marketing field.

  • Dave Crenshaw

    Great post, Chris! Thumbs up on the 5Cs. Love it!

  • Arwin Adriano

    Definitely Social Media is all about being Social and that is why it is called Social Media right? It’s all about building relationships and creating connections with influential individuals.

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  • Heather Stone

    Hi Chris,
    But I think the reason people keep talking about the tools is that there’s this really slowly breaking wave of adoption that’s still going on. I still have conversations with business owners who are trying to get a feel for social media, so every time I try to take things to the next level, I feel like I’m talking over people’s heads…at least some times. By the way, this post has been shared in the BizSugar community where it is already trending on the first page and has already collected some interesting comments there too.

  • Alizia

    Cool article cris social media is the best way to come closer with your audience

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  • Dianne Dixon

    What you’re talking about is being more SOCIAL when it comes to Social Media. I think that part has really been lacking because of the drive for results, results, results. Great post and I will definitely use these C’s a bit more.

  • Stacey Herbert

    If I put your 5 c’s and Tim Ferriss’s Dsss all together…I have me a headache and a whole lotta learning. It’s gonna be a big year. Right now my reading list is longer than my body…I think I just added another one!

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  • angelina dom

    A very well written post about social media . I am glad to read this .Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Neil Ashworth

    Great post Chris. I bought the book too – through Amazon, so I guess you owe me a coffee sometime ;)

  • K.Singh, London

    The main challenge however is the time it takes to get noticeable results. It take take up to a year for this to happen. Businesses find it interesting at the start but tend to loose steam after a while.

  • Mawmaw Said So

    Nice Post, it is surprising that as a tech pro for many years now I struggle to keep up with the social media stuff for my blog

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  • Mark

    As always, the ideas you and Julien bring to the table are thought-provoking and well distilled. So, don’t let my comment here take away from my agreement with your post.

    Still, I wonder about the noticeable absence of context from your concise summary. I believe the tools one selects, the presentation/delivery of the message, the nature of the outreach and the type of invitation are every bit (if not more) important as/than the message itself. I’ve seen far too many organizations select a tool or conduct themselves in the exact manner over multiple platforms. Both approaches devalue the content.

    I often use the example of an actor auditioning for a play. The casting decision is based on the context (presentation/delivery/tools) not the content (scripted lines, which are the same for each candidate).

    I’m interested in your thoughts on context as it applies to the Impact Equation. If the answer is in the book, let me know. I’ll be getting my copy at 3TYOW tomorrow evening.

  • darinlhammond

    I agree with your thoughts on social media. I’ve been thinking recently about blogging relationships as social networks that will be more persistent over time. I develop the closest relationships and nurture the most those that are generated from real writing and discussion with other bloggers. This may not fit any business model, but it is the most rewarding and durable aspect of blogging.

    And, if you think about how many bloggers are sweating out blog posts, commenting, and networking – there is no more powerful social media in my opinion. Bloggers are committed to writing and relationships, for the most part, and we form an interconnected web, stronger than Facebook and other fad social media. Blogging was here first and shall remain long after the dust settles.

    Thank you far your sharp and focused insights Chris.

  • Jonnalyn Pascual

    “Help people get attention, understanding, and eventually a relationship of value”. For me this must be a mindset not only by business people but all the people. Attention, understanding and relationship are the key factors for the success you’ve wanted to reach. And I believe that there’s no such thing as boring as long as we enjoy and focus on it.

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  • Esteban Contreras

    As companies go into “optimization” mode, they are definitely getting boring. It’s time to wake up and leapfrog, or be left behind.

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