Written by Rick Mans

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Best practices: food for thought for the mediocre

I tend to avoid best practices in social design as often as possible. It is not that I don’t know them or don’t share them, I just don’t copy them. ┬áCopying best practices will result in everybody using the same best practice making the best practice in the end into a mediocre practice. And as Jean Giradoux already said a long time ago: “The mediocre are always at their best. ”

In the industrial age it was simple, you could reuse best practices without hardly any adaption of the practice itself. People at the assembly line did similar work, there wasn’t too much context that would influence the practice itself, it was just the assembly line, something on the assembly line and the people doing something to or with the thing on the assembly line. Still resulting in mediocre practices in the end, however copying was making sense since by copying it you could have the same results as the inventor of the best practice.

How I think you should use best practices in social design and social media solutions in general is as inspiration. Those practices are too contextual to be copied since it is likely your brand is different, your audience is different, the way you interact is different, your budgets are different, the people that are executing it are different and the world is different since time has passed since the best practice you were trying to copied was really hot and happening. Therefore don’t try to rely too much on best practices, they were great for a certain organization / group of people during a certain time, however most likely they will perform poorly if you just copy them.

However pick some important design elements from those best practices and see how they can fit your to be social design. Use this design elements and see how they fit your context and if they can be applied in this context. By reusing just the elements and adapting them to your context you’ll be able to define a new practice and if you are lucky: a new best practice.