• I’m almost afraid to put this out there…..They’re all just tools.

    Past a certain point it doesn’t matter what you put out there if what you have to say isn’t useful, no? I hate to say this, but I wonder what happens to a lot of experts when a platform suddenly becomes passe. Do they reinvent themselves to tell people how to best use the next big thing? It’s exhausting to think about.

    I’m not saying the tools don’t matter. But I don’t want to be anyone’s facebook person. I can’t think of a faster way to go grey.

    • I agree, and I also think it’s a great way to pigeon hole yourself into the middle of the bus. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard tactical experts complain about strategy that can’t counter with an effective approach of their own. They just play the same tactic over and over again.

  • I think the most valuable asset a consultant can provide is strategy; tools and tactics change, but sound strategies cope with those changes. I’m with you.

  • I tend to focus on the broader experience. Unconsciously I avoided tool specific posts, apparently. And now that I’ve read your post.., it does make sense.
    I like to think more about the process and tactics that I, or others, can apply.., regardless of the tool.
    In the end, any strategy should be tool independent.

    Good point.., as ever…

    • I totally agree. Without the tools the word doesn’t get delivered, but there are so many paths today. One tool is not the end or the beginning anymore. Never really was.

  • I had something similar happen a few years ago. People were asking me about social; I answered questions – poof! social media expert. I hated it because I’m no expert, and I hated the pressure of writing about a topic that didn’t interest me all that much – it’s hard to bring a creative angle to a how-to post about Facebook or Twitter. I like learning about social media, especially if it’s applied to niches I enjoy, but I don’t like to be the source of information. My focus is on writing and communications. Social media is just one part of that.

  • Like many on this comment thread, I also haven’t written about the tools which are really just tactics and a means to an end. The bigger picture strategic stuff is what is infinitely more important and where my creative interests lie.

    As we used to say in many of the creative groups I have worked, the computer is a tool but what you do with the tools is what separates the best from the rest. As fun as special effects and the “gee-wizardry” of the latest new software, tool or app, true creativity will always reside with the creator, not the computer; with how the paint is put on the canvas, not the brush.

    However, I do rely on others who write about the tools and feel they offer an important value as these new tools keep changing every day. It’s just not what I do.

    • I definitely agree with you. Some people do provide great insights on the tools. I look forward to their take.

    • Focus is a magical thing Paul and has always served me well. I started writing about “web tools” almost 6 years ago and have been doing it ever since. Tools are a magical driver for any purpose if used correctly. They are always changing and that is what keeps my plate full with over 40 beta tools in the writing queue currently.

      Think of Google+ as an example, written off early by many, and ever changing but it is a growing presence and I will continue to try to introduce not only the newest, coolest tools, but also ways that they can be used to generate desired results.

      Tools have become a hot topic, especially social tools. I watch with a smile as yesterday’s inbound marketing guru, or sales guru’s etc,, are now touting tools as their focus. They will do so until the next shiny object comes along, and then they will change their focus to that.

      Began online as “the Web Tools Guy” and will continue on that path. Send those with questions my way!

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  • I think people just appreciate the advice, although it’s true that what works for one won’t necessary work well for another. I like knowing what’s working well for others. Students ask me for advice about tools a lot. The important thing, in my opinion, is to tell them that what you’re using/doing might now work for them.

  • I think writing about categories and macro trends is much more useful right now. It’s more on topic and connected to your consulting value too. I think it also helps to grow a category too.

    ie sticking the the why and now the hows/whats.

    Tools are complex, diverse and never ending – it’s a specialization. There are many (too many) tools. Picking the winners is hard to call, although picking some losers can be easy. It’s a full time gig staying on top of the tool space.

    I’m deeply entrenched in tools as the co-founder of a content curation platform (aka tool). I follow the social media/content tools closely and I know it’s hard to fully comprehend. I empathize with consumers and businesses trying to choosing where to invest your time and therefore money. The fact some tools may be free is a deception.

    I believe people make terrible decisions in the tools they pick.

    That’s a blog post I’ve been meaning to write.

    Reading this might just nudge me to write it.


  • Geoff – I agree with the overall point of what you’re saying: strategy and business plan need to come first. But I would add that there are a lot of very interesting developments happening in social media tools right now — especially in categories such as analytics or content curation — and that it makes sense for all of us to be paying attention to these developments and thinking about how to best leverage those new technologies to innovate further…

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