At least not on its own. When I graduated college, social was innovative. Having a Twitter account or a fan page was somewhat cutting edge. Being "social" put you ahead of the curve whether you did it well or not. At least you were there. That was more than many could say at one point in time.

Social also helped put me and several other people my age in a good position for employment. Like others, I've built my initial career on a platform of social media. Every job role I've had in the "real world" has revolved around social or other types of digital media. It was a space many people were afraid of but put faith in entry-level employees to bring it to life. It was an opportunity to carve out our own path and play in what was considered a purely innovative space. Now the rules have changed, again.

Just because it's social doesn't make it innovative

It's easy to lean on the platforms we use as pillars of innovation rather than what we actually do with them. We call our campaign innovative because it has social sharing capabilities. Yipee.  A brand makes a few posts on Vine. Great. That's not innovative on its own. A brand could do something very cool using Vine (like the fine examples from Business Insider here). What you do with the platform is what makes it innovative, not the tool itself. The same could be said for Facebook, Twitter or heck - even email. Doing something in a way that nobody has before is what makes a person innovative.

Knowing how to use a new shiny platform or app doesn't make someone an innovator. It makes them an early adopter. There is a difference.

Microsoft Excel is innovative

When it comes  to digital innovation, Microsoft Excel isn't what typically comes to mind. It's probably one of the least sexy and boring tools out there - at least to me. How could it be considered innovative? I present this man who has created stunning Japanese artwork using a tool normally reserved for numbers.


Would you consider the fact that this older man an innovator because he knows how to use Excel? No. He's innovative because he's using a tool to do something nobody has ever done.

In short, we can't rely or rest on knowing how to use social media to be considered "innovative" anymore. We've moved past that. Social media is just another necessary piece of knowledge all marketers have to know how to use. It's what we do with what we know that could make us be considered innovative once again.