Platforms vs Tools

I have recently been thinking about how there is so much discussion about social media between marketing professionals – discussing the pros and cons of the social media “element or tactics” within a marketing plan or sharing the how to’s and top ten things of using social media in the trade of marketing.  Today I’d like to focus on the potential beyond those important basics for marketing purposes and hear your thoughts about what is at hand with social media as a “platform” with limitless possibilities for integration into the business plan — notice I did not say integration into the marketing plan.

My friend @CommsNinja and I have been discussing how we see others use and how we each practice using social media as a “platform” which can be foundational for a very wide variety of business purposes beyond what gets talked about the most – its marketing utility.

I, for example, am engaged in consulting work for my clients focused on a variety of go to market approaches in support of growing their businesses.  As would have been the case pre-social media, research on the market, market climate, customers’ brand in the market, etc. is a critical element of this work.  For this work, I use Twitter extensively as a listening post and platform.  In this way, it has become an essential element (not the only element, but an important one) in assessing certain elements of current state and competitive/market state when I embark on a project for a customer.  Using Twitter and other social media elements, I track their competitors, key industry topics, what is resonating or creating engagement, and more through a fairly structured approach I have developed in support of  this “listening” on behalf of my clients.

Thinking of say, Twitter, this way moves it to a status of something more than just a “tool.”  I read a report from the Pew Internet research on Twitter that said that although growth in Twitter usage has been slowing somewhat, engagement is deeper and richer by those who are using it.  This may support this concept of broader usage as a platform for a variety of very interesting applications. Additionally,  I am currently working with a healthcare client at this time and the possibilities for Twitter as a platform incorporated into business models and innovations as the reality of more and more devices we wear on and in our bodies being programmable to wirelessly alert us, our loved ones, and even our healthcare providers of changes in our physical conditions is intriguing for sure!

How are you using Twitter or other social media elements as platforms for your business, and not just the business of marketing?

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