It is interesting to me that we label software programs that help us accomplish our work â€œtoolsâ€ as a tool is defined in the dictionary as, â€œA machine, such as a lathe, used to cut and shape machine parts or other objectsâ€. But, the definition works here as well because the same rules apply to running a lathe or other tool as running software/social media to help with your marketing.
Most people who use a lathe learn the safety of the machine and then how to use it to get the results they need. They understand how to mount the wood or metal to be shaped, they know how to position the blades properly and they know what safety gear to have on while it is running. They also have a clear idea, understanding or diagram of what they want to have at the end of the job as well.
All of these ideas apply to our marketing. Creating the plan gives you the final drawing of what you need to have at the end. The safety aspect means we know what the risks are, we know how to minimize them and we know what to watch for to see if we are on track. No one learns to use a lathe by walking up, putting a piece of wood on and starting it up.
The other parallel we can draw here is every wood worker has access to a lathe. There is nothing unique about that tool itself. It is what the wood worker does with the lathe that makes the work special. The tools are a means to an end, not a differentiator on their own. A new cool can give the wood worker an edge for awhile, but at some point everyone will have it too so he or she better have a different way to differentiate next. This is true with social media and marketing as well. Using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are great ways to get to customers, but it is no different than your competition can do. What is different is how you use them and what your final products are.
If you want to be a company known for educating customers, then use social media to provide education. If innovation is your thing, then you need to be out on the bleeding edge ahead of the game. If the message is quality, then everything you put out needs to be grammatically correct and no typos. And the list goes on.
Before starting to use any tool, watch someone else use it and listen to them explain it. Then, try to do what others are doing first so you can see how it goes. Once you are comfortable, then it is time to start adding your own flair and design. You can make beautiful pieces if you know what you are doing first!