Shift Your Social Media Usage to Fabric Mode

When social media came out and for the next many years, people have treated it like a main course. Ultimately, it’s more like a condiment, or a texture. It’s time to move it to the “fabric” mindset. 2013-05-31 07.33.55

I was talking with Jacq about our upcoming talk at State of Now about how one starts a health reboot. In brainstorming, we both realized that we use social media and social networking tools to help with various aspects of our fitness and health. But we don’t make a “thing” out of it. We just do it. The tools just get us to the information and the people. Does that make sense?

The “Fabric” Mindset

The reason we all have at least one computer and probably a smartphone is that they became easier and easier to use. There’s some quote I can’t really remember right now that says that technology becomes really interesting when it shifts from being magical to being commonplace, when, in other words, it just becomes part of the materials we use to make up our day. It’s time for us to think that way about the whole social media thing. It’s been time for a year or two.

The Debates Aren’t All That Worth It

Should you be on Facebook? Who cares? Maybe. Possibly. Should you check out Google+, even though everyone swears it’s a ghost town (of over 600 million users)? No. Don’t go there. No one you know is there. Only Barack Obama, The Dalai Lama, and a bunch of boring astronauts. Is Vine worth it? No. Absolutely not. Six second video is as stupid as 140 character limitations on social networks and it’ll never take off.

The debates aren’t interesting. No one cares whether you’re still deciding to get on this or that social network or use this or that tool. You don’t have a Pinterest strategy yet? Great! It’s perfectly fine to sit that one out (unless you’re selling to women and then you’re kind of silly for not being there).

My real point here? The debates aren’t making you money.

Fabric: Use it as PART of the Plan

I’m looking through the various questions in my inbox from readers of my newsletter and listeners to my radio show. In every single case, someone’s asking me a question that has nothing to do with social media, but they’re asking with a lot of social media-related terms and thought processes.

I once asked Mitch Joel a question about how to get more people to buy cars using social. He said, “Don’t. Stick flyers on the windshields of other people’s cars and invite them to the dealership.” He was 100% right.

How do *I* use social media and networks right now? I’ll give you the list:

1.) Point people to content I’ve created that is helpful. (The content, in turn, sometimes points to things I sell.)
2.) Connect with people I want to nurture relationships with, and/or answer questions from my community.
3.) Learn from experts that I’m interested in learning from.
4.) Get timely information not typically found in Google (or Bing) about a topic.
5.) Get friend-vetted information <-- this one is so important it should almost be #1.

But what I don't do:

a.) care about follower count.
b.) worry about Klout/Kred/Konstipation
c.) worry about comments/likes
d.) care about the trends

Fabric Mode

Use these tools for your pursuits.

* I need to sell more. Now what?
* I need to learn more about _____. Now what?
* I want to connect with like minds about _____. Now what?

You’ll find the world is a lot more fun.

Oh, and one more thing: you hereby have permission to NOT use whichever social networks you don’t feel like using or don’t like. Tell people you have official and sanctioned permission. Yep. A hall pass. Stop using social networks you don’t like. Today.

Good? Good!

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  • cotey

    I find that when I’m feeling underwhelmed, nothing helps to bog me down like playing the social media game. “Konstipation” indeed.

    • Steve Garfield

      You are the top result in a Google search for “Konstipation Klout.” Congratulations!

  • Shyam Madhavan Sarada

    Nicely put! But riding the wave makes money too in many of these cases. A social media sucker is born every minute, I dare say :-)

    • Chris Brogan

      I suppose. My business doesn’t run on suckers.

      • Shyam Madhavan Sarada

        Chris, but I did end up here. I AM the sucker here. Of course, how it pans out remains to be seen. Perhaps we won’t ever do business together, but you can’t deny my prsence/existence. It is the wave that brought me here. That suckers like me exist isn’t such a bad thing, it is actually good for your social media presence/persona and eventually for business. Unless, of course, the greater common good is your primary/sole objective!

        At some level you have capitalized on it ~ you were able to place your “doesn’t run on suckers” point well. Just as I have made my point too, for the long tail :-)

  • Barry Chignell

    Agree entirely – social media isn’t even ‘social’ anymore, it’s business for the site itself and for most of it’s users. There is a certain pressure to be part of every new social site, app or plugin that flies onto the market from those blogging about it and how you need to include them in your marketing strategy.


    • Chris Brogan

      Even when I start using some new platform, I approach it for my own interests, not as part of my “arsenal,” such as it were.

      • Barry Chignell

        I seem to use most networks for my site primarily (to share content etc). Google+ is the only network I use as myself (which is much more rewarding because you are not consumed by the metrics).

        I need to clean out the social site closet! :)

  • Patrik Edblad

    I’ll be using my hall pass to not get back on Facebook. Thanks, Chris :)

  • chloeokoli

    Great post Chris. It IS better to use your time and energy for the things that matter and not try to keep up with absolutely every new thing – it just wears you out and gets you nowhere. Thanks :)

  • Joel Widmer

    Even for people who haven’t made social media fabric yet, you’ll learn 10x more from taking action then you ever will researching and planning.

    • Chris Brogan

      No doubt about it.

  • lucrecer

    Fabric. That will be my word for the day. That and hall pass and permission and kiss my grits. Great post, Chris.

    • Chris Brogan

      “Kiss my grits!” I love that. : ) I haven’t heard that expression since the 80s. Who knew? Bring it back! : )

      • lucrecer

        Well, I do love some old school stuff. Whatever works, right?!

  • JosephRatliff

    Shhh… you’re giving the secret to using social tools away, Chris :)

    Love the “fabric”.

    And, I’m in TOTAL agreement about the “geeking out” over what tools are better than what, and should you use this tool over that one etc…

    You’re right, it doesn’t matter.

    • Chris Brogan

      Dang. Sorry about that.

  • Doug Cohen

    I feel like you have to slog through the debates just a little before you can get to this aha moment that you’ve written about. I feel like this lightbulb comes on for “upperclassmen”. There are still so many “freshmen” out there – people who have no clue how the different platforms even work. Then again I STILL spend too much time worrying about platforms I shouldn’t be bothering with…not a ton (I promise) but more than I should – even when guys like you hit me over the head and tell me to stop. Guess I’m not ready to graduate… ha.

    • Doug Cohen

      In case I wasn’t clear – by “guys like you” I mean a select few folks who I respect a lot and read as much of their stuff as I can.

    • Chris Brogan

      You’re probably right. There are hills to climb. I find that getting fired helps people figure it out. Waiting to watch all the “social media managers” lose their gigs this year and next.

  • Jeff Gibbard

    Not much to add other than my full support for this point of view. Here’s the burning question though: how do you communicate this point to prospects and clients who want to talk about the nonsense? I want to have a deeper dialogue about what our clients REALLY want (the business goals) and then tell them what tools can help them get that job done, but most want to start by talking about the tools. What’s a guy to do?

    • Chris Brogan

      Turn it around immediately to their goals. What do you want? More sales? here’s where that goes. That’s the deal. If you’re letting them lead you, that’s your talent that needs tightening.

      • Jeff Gibbard

        I often try to do that, but I’m struggling because I feel like they often can’t even see what I’m saying…all they hear in their heads is “Facebook Page, more likes, we want more retweets, retweets good.”

        All of my messaging, my pitches, my new business conversations are tailored around the benefits of the tools, not the tools themselves. I ask them what they WANT, what they really want: more awareness, more leads, more sales, better internal collaboration…it often leads to, “we want to be better at Facebook.”

        I feel like the conversation hasn’t evolved for many of the prospects yet. I find it challenging.

  • Kathleen Garber

    Social Media is amazing and I love it but you are right, it’s not the be all and end all of business and if you are spending too much time with the debates and even on the social networks and not enough time on everything else, you are just hurting yourself. Do what feels right and nothing more.

    • Chris Brogan

      Companies aren’t sitting around saying “woohoo! We’re tweeting!” They’re saying, “Where’s my money?” That’s all I know.

  • Maggie

    Thank you Chris. This needed so badly to be said. I am so sick of scrolling down my Twitter feed and seeing yet another 20 articles about how to succeed in social media, tactics to employ, how to get more followers or likes, aaaaahhhhh!! Be a real person, use good business sense, it’s definitely not worth all the debate.

  • 40deuce

    I know you don’t care about my comment ;) but I just want to say that you have it right here. Social media isn’t some magical spell that will make your company make more money. It’s a tool to add to your arsenal and help you in your quest. As long as you’re using to do what’s right for your business and your customers.

    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired

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  • stephen “steve” Q shannon

    40deuce I hope you are kidding. Of all people, Chris, DOES CARE about your comment, even mine. Here are the elements I love from this post, because it’s almost unthinkable that we should ignore the following…Yeah!..LOL a.) care about follower count.b.) worry about Klout/Kred/Konstipation c.) worry about comments/likes d.) care about the trends – Fatal distractions. Hat tip to Chris…again.

  • Kersten Kloss, BizDevWeekly

    Most business owners get so wrapped up inside the “gee-wiz” of social media that they
    forget to actually BE with other people.

    Large social media portals have evolved into massive “Party lines” filled with auditoriums of talkers saying “look
    at me”. No thanks to the social media “Marketers”, nobody hears anyone, anymore.

    Communicating on open social media channels is like trying to connect with someone new at a sports arena. Can you hear anyone speaking? No.. All you hear are is a dull roar and hiss, the announcements over a loudspeakers and maybe the conversation next to you.

    Social media is just another communication tool. Just like the telegraph, telephone, telex, fax, email, BBS and IM channels before it. Some of them are better for business, others are better as entertainment. You have to pick the environment where your market hangs out.

    But we all need to be reminded: Did any of us rely entirely on any one of those old world communication tools to do all our business? NO. We used them to reach out then switched to building trust and solidifying relationships, face 2 face.

    Let’s not forget business basics.

    Kersten Kloss, BizDevWeekly

  • frugalfaye

    Great post. Thanks for the perspective.

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  • Jorge Silvestrini

    This makes me think more that we need to stick to our strengths and not try to really copy everyone out there. The best tool is the one that I can use to get the job done and delivered!

  • Pan Aveyard

    Our closest relatives have the ability to chose the correct tools, if they don’t they die.
    ‘Is this the right rock to open this nut?’ ‘No’ – so they get a different rock.
    They don’t ask others to like the rock to make it work better.

    We should just focus on opening our nuts ;)

  • donna_caputo

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one drawn into what seen like endless discussions about social media. Thanks for permission to just make a decision, do what makes sense, and stop worrying about the other things.

  • Guest

    People love “permission.” It’s astounding how well it works to give people “permission” to do so something they inherently know but just don’t have the courage or social backing to do. Good Work, Chris. I feel free!

  • Carol Jones

    People love “permission.” It’s astounding how well it works to give people “permission” to do so something they inherently know but just don’t have the courage or social backing to do. Good Work, Chris. I feel free!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    A lot of companies embark on a social media plan, but never actually measure the results. How are you supposed to know if Google+ or Pinterest are working for your company? Looking at analytics and other factors, you can gauge which social platforms are working to create buzz and bring traffic to your site, and which ones you should probably let go of.

  • Copywriter Matt

    Absolutely true. The platform should support your business efforts. Your business efforts shouldn’t revolve around the platform.

  • Jason Dojc

    Nice post Chris. It’s true that social media is becoming the “fabric”. Does that mean the content being produced itself is becoming the fashion?

    The quote you were looking for when you said “technology becomes really interesting when it shifts from being magical to being commonplace“ comes from Clay Shirky who said, “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”

  • Jill Robson

    Great post, I am in social media saturation and don’t know which ones to keep. I love LinkedIn and twitter, or though I am a new tweeter. I am getting frustrated with FB and I don’t find google + user friendly although it is being touted as the next big comeback. Your article gave me perspective.

    • Wanda Davidson

      like Lucille said I didn’t know that a person can get paid $5808 in 1 month on the internet. have you seen this web link w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

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