Using online tools – not just about clicking the buttons

June 7th, 2010

I have met numerous experts in the last few months, not least the many who can help business people get more about of their marketing budgets. I’ve talked a little about social media and my belief that it’s partly that title which puts some business people off.

There are many tools out there, described as “free” and “easy to set up and use”. Well, yes, many of them are free and they are easy to set up and, looking at the menu options, they would appear easy to use.

Why, then, are there so many people offering training courses on these tools?

2 reasons strike me – define “easy” and fear. In most cases, the tool seems easy to use, when you know how. The more menu options there are to make it easier for the user, the more you have to know. If there are fewer menu options, you may have to work through them and all the options within them.

Twitter has few options – and then many people use other tools to maintain their tweets as the core tool doesn’t do as much as they want it to. LinkedIn has vast menus and it takes quite a while to find your way round and teach yourself.

And fear? Well, if you do it wrong it’s out “there”, isn’t it? Millions of people can see you make a mistake. Yes and no. How many people have millions of followers? There are odd scare stories when people have really made a fool out of something and it’s been posted and re-posted endlessly. For most of us, this is so unlikely to happen – amongst our typos and spelling mistakes; misquotes; attaching an out of focus picture; a blog article that’s a bit long – that’s the worst that’s likely to happen.

My main gripe, though, is not that the IT trainers will capitalise on their own ability to get to grips with the software quickly, combined with others’ fears, it’s that they concentrate on the software and what it can do. Where’s the strategy? Where’s the planning? It’s true that understanding more about what some of the tools and sites can do, will help you to think more about how to use them well for you and your business. 

But, if you’re not sure where to start, to me “what am I trying to achieve?” is more important than “how do I use the tool?” I’m no expert – but I’ve met quite a few who claim to be and I’ve formed my own opinions about them and I’d be happy to discuss my experiences with anyone and pass on details.

Contact Sue if you’d like to discuss use of social media and online networking tools and the impact on the people and their skills.

Find Sue on LinkedIn and at

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