I guess you know the blog posts such as ‘X ways to get success’, ‘Y ways in growing your Facebook page with 1.000.000 users’ etc etc. There is just always a limited number of ways or a limited number of steps you have to take to get to a certain level of success. Tools such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex provide an even deeper urge for compliance to lists and algorithms. Since to be credible you need a decent score with those tools, otherwise you are doing social media wrong. If this is the way you measure success of your social media activities, you are destined to fail.
As an addition to these tools and blog posts there are of course some very smart marketing efforts by companies who copy this checklist mentality to create either some smart buzz or to please some clients. Since the easiest way to get attention is to send out a press release that contains some research (whether this research is complete and objective or not). Examples such as these are the Social Business Index from Dachis Group and the Social Media Monitor by Social Embassy. Based on their checklists brands are identified as being successful or as brands that need improvement on social media.
Checklists are just marketing
The ironic part is that whether it is the people behind the blog posts, behind the tools or behind the companies creating this checklist mentality know that it is not about complying with a checklist. However they have created this abstraction so ‘normal people’ can grasp it better and at least know what to do in the first few steps. Though over time they have conveniently forgotten about this fact and don’t mention it anymore. Creating the false illusion that if you score according to a checklist you are doing a great.
Checklists are great for industrial environments and processes, not for social environments. It feeds the internal fear of non-compliance, if you are not complying with the checklist, you are the odd one out. You are the one that fails, you are the one who doesn’t know to do his job. You have to read the manual, you have to comply. Non-compliance is a synonym for failure in some organisations.
If you are forced to follow the checklist mentality for your social media effort just ask the checklist provider: Since when has success become a checklist? If there is an answer that this checklist is the only way to achieve success, make sure your ways part. Since then you are still working in the industrial age and not in the age of social and therefore your real success will be limited even though you might have 100% compliance to the checklist.