Let's make this post go viral, shall we? The end game for social seems to be focused completely on eyeballs and attention. As marketers, that's really want we do want. It's the metric that we're totally used to. We want to do crazy creative social things that haven't been done before and get a lot of people talking. I'm completely down with that and think, done right, that works.
Innovation As A PR Boost
A few months back I attended an AMA luncheon where Del Ross from IHG spoke on how their hotel chain (the largest in the world) is leveraging social and new technology. His opinion was simple - they try new things. He wants his company to be the first to try something new on a brand new platform. Being first and perceived as innovative may not necessarily be seen as a utility purpose to their day-to-day business tasks. What being first does do is drive a ton of PR value. People notice when you try something creative and cool and publications will want to talk about your brand.
We call that earned media. It's one way of looking at social platforms and innovation. Done right, it absolutely works. But...
New Platforms Aren't Always The Answer To Innovation
At least not in the way you may think.
We get so caught up in being sexy, cool and viral that we forget that, at the end of the day, these new platforms and technologies are tools. They should be providing utility to accomplish your organizations' goals and objectives. Facebook helps connect and should provide brands the chance to talk with their constituents and not at them. Twitter affords real-time opinions and problem solving opportunities. Foursquare and Pinterest help us discover new things, whether it's a venue or an idea.
Any new platform has a utility function to it. The question you have to ask yourself, to avoid shiny object syndrome, is if you're jumping on a new platform because its utility function will help you accomplish more or is it just a way to try and be one of the cool kids?
Old Platforms Can Be Innovative
At Digital Atlanta last night, @nickjayres (also of IHG) gave a talk about innovation inside of an organization. To avoid shiny object syndrome, they have a vetting process where they leave personal bias at the door and evaluate new "shiny objects" for what they are and what they could do. After reviewing, they then evaluate to see if what the new platform offers isn't something an older one could accomplish as well.
My main takeaway from Nick's talk is that you don't have to use the newest and shiniest thing to be innovative. He said that innovation is all about context and how you actually use a platform and not the platform itself.
In social media, we should always be testing and trying out new things to stay ahead of the curve. There's also a balance. When using social media, always ask:
"Are we trying to get stuff done? Or just be trendy?"
A lot of times for many organizations, one doesn't lead to the other.
What do you think?