I probably spent about 82% of my teenage years playing the guitar; most of that time was practice, some of it playing gigs, and some of it jamming with whoever I could find to jam with. At one point I actually got pretty good at it. But that didn’t happen until I learned an important lesson about what being a good guitar player actually meant.
Early on my dad taught me how to play some basic chords and scales, then I bought myself few song books and I was off to the races. Once I had some finger strength I proceeded to spend about a year and a half learning how to play every song off of Metallica – Kill Em All, and Eruption by Eddie Van Halen.
At that point I was quite proud of myself, and I thought I was pretty good. I could play accurately, and I could play really fast – really fast. Then one day I was jamming with some folks in the area and an older guy who was a one of the best musicians I’ve ever played with told me something quite profound. “All those things that you do, the pinch harmonics, the finger tapping, all the effects, forget about them, those are just tricks… focus on the notes you’re playing and how they feel”.
He was right, I was hiding the music with all the tricks I learned early on, and since I was so skilled at scattering my music with those tricks they were both obscuring the notes, and they were holding me back from really becoming a good guitarist. So from that point on I tried to focus on how the notes felt, instead of how many I could play at a time.
Today I see a similar thing happening with social media. Everyone seems to be creating Twitter scavenger hunts, or a social media raffles that send users on some web based goose chases. In today’s marketing’s quest to turn every campaign viral, and get the type of groundswell buzz that folks like JJ Abrams often get they are repeating the mistake that I made as a young guitarist. They are letting all these tricks obscure the value of the social channel.
Social at its core allows customers an unprecedented level and speed of communication with vendors. In short social media channels such as Twitter, allow you to have a direct conversation without the gatekeepers that usually exist in a customer/vendor relationship. Plus in the case of Twitter, the message limitations actually force both parties to get to the point much faster.
So for the time being, why don’t we all set aside the social media tricks for a minute (unless of course you actually ARE JJ Abrams) and focus on the conversation…