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Practicing Clichés

You can't just execute an idea that worked for someone else and expect it to perform better for you. This is how best practices get people in trouble; an idea, concept, campaign, etc, turns into a practice, diminishing opportunities for innovation and creativity.

Unfortunately, finding a great example of this scenario is as easy as looking at many companies' implementation of social media. While I don't disagree with many common social media practices, I do think that one way companies are still stumbling into social is by simply practicing what worked for others.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that found this out by example, "the Top 10 Steps to More Facebook Likes" may not actually bring you more followers. We live in an era of informational noise, and it gets worse when you look at the marketing world (I won't even start on the social media marketing portion of that globe). For every "way to make your brand's Twitter influential" you try, there are probably thousands of other "gurus" employing the same tactic. As Jeremiah Owyang puts it in this interview by Markie Marketo, "Social can be used for many permeations of business goals, and it'll continue to change. We're a long ways from being able to measure [social media efforts] cohesively and consistently across all of our channels." It's often tough to pinpoint a direct relationship between a scenario's cause and effect in the real world, and this is especially true in the social media space. This is why researchers like Owyang recommend evaluating social media based on its contribution to a specific range of business goals; the idea of relying on a compass, not a checklist.

My point here is not to downplay tried-and-true methodologies. However, I think it's important  to occasionally check ourselves. Is Idea A in use simply because others were successful in its execution, or are did we truly find it to be valuable for our business? Are campaigns X and Z running because they were easy to scale and included in a package of recommended ideas, or are they real examples of our company's broadening perspective? Are we actually innovating, or just using Competitor B's idea faster and better? If we're not careful, best practices can lead us down the dangerous road of maintaining the status quo.

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