Social Media – The Rube Goldberg Machine of the Web

rube-goldberg-machineI’m a big fan of Rube Goldberg and his convoluted machines that would trigger dozens of tiny processes to perform a very simple task.

When chatting with a friend recently, it made me realise that social media works in a very similar way to a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Before I explain the relationship between the two, it’s important to note a few small things about social media.

From my experience, a lot of businesses don’t quite grasp the concept of social media. Some will create a Facebook page or a Twitter profile and think simply by creating it, they’ve done their part and can cross ’social media’ off their list of things to try… and then they wonder why it doesn’t appear to be working for them.

Then there are the companies that go to the other extreme. The ones that tweet everything that happens from arriving at the office, saying good-morning to the staff, making a coffee, reading emails etc. While they may technically be ‘using’ the social media tools, they aren’t really sharing anything beneficial – and they too will wonder why they aren’t achieving the results they were hoping for.

Every social media platform is different and subsequently requires different approaches to gain the best results, but one commonality between all the social media tools is that you need to connect with others and most importantly, share relevant and useful content that your target audience will be interested in.

Once you find the right mix of information to share and how to best interact with your community (which can take some research, testing and time) you’ll find that your community will start working with (and for) you.

This is where the Rube Goldberg Machine analogy comes into play.

First off, you should set a simple goal. It could be to gain readers for a new company blog you’ve just started or perhaps to promote a particular range of products that you have on sale in your online store or any number of other things.

Now that you know what you want the machine to accomplish, you need to work-out the steps required to get there.

Anyone new to social media often finds that getting the perfect mix of readers/followers/fans can be difficult. The best way to find the perfect mix of followers is to look towards those who are already using social media effectively within your niche. These people shouldn’t be too hard to find as they’ll be the ones sharing the most relevant info, have the most followers, engaging in conversations with others and using the various social media sites on a regular basis.

Befriend these social media celebrities and start interacting with them. When doing this, don’t just say “hi” – share something useful that they may find interesting. Make positive comments and feedback on conversations and use their influence as an opportunity to leverage some exposure of your own. This will take some time and you should try and utilise a range of social media networks to help with the process.

Once you’ve made some connections and you’re starting to establish a social media presence, you need to keep the conversations happening and sharing useful items, but now you can slowly start to promote some of your own work. Don’t plaster your site over every tweet, post and comment you make, and when making reference to your own work, ensure that it’s fitting with the current discussion.

Be sure to keep sharing other items of interest external to your site, keep the conversations flowing and don’t spam people with ongoing shameless self-promotional plugs. If you follow this approach, people will be a lot more accepting of you mentioning your own content allowing you to start focusing on the initial goals that you set.

By this stage, you should have a reasonable amount of trust and respect so that you can start approaching some of those social media celebrities within your niche and asking if they’d be willing to look at some of your work (be it blog posts, specials or other promotions you might be running or anything you think they will find particularly interesting). If the content is good enough and you haven’t been too pushy or annoying, you might be lucky enough to gain some endorsement boosting your exposure even further.

So as you can see, like a Rube Goldberg Machine, it may have taken a number of convoluted and seemingly time consuming steps to achieve some simple results, but the connections you’ll make and exposure received when you finally crack the social media space is most definitely worth it.

Social media has been around for a while now and it just keeps evolving and growing – so what are you waiting for – get your Rube Goldberg Social Media Machine started now.

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1 Response to “Social Media – The Rube Goldberg Machine of the Web”


  1. 1 Nick Stamoulis Mar 17th, 2009 at 3:33 am

    I agree, I don’t think tweeting you just poured coffee on your lap is going to help your business out in anyway. You will always get someone that chimes in though and you never know what that could turn into. Social media requires many different attempts from different angles in order to find an approach that will work best.

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