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Garage Band Social Media: Is Your Message on the Right Playlist?

Getting information out there seems easy, right? Our hyper-connected era offers so many social media options for disseminating messages. But just because we can communicate through a variety of tools doesn’t always mean that we should or that one size fits all.

If you want to get your message out effectively, you need to make sure it fits its environment. The message should sound right in the context in which it is presented.

How do you know what sort of communication style to choose for any given channel? Think in terms of music.


Facebook is the mainstream pop of social media (Bieber anyone?). It’s widely used, easily understood, and accessible to a broad section of the population (although it’s skewed toward the young).

Catchy and entertaining messages that stay on the surface work well here. For example, posting an interesting fact about your industry, a discussion question that your readers can comment on, or a picture or video will help to engage your audience. The communication style is somewhat planned, but the tone remains light and conversational. Small bits of information that fit with a browser’s mindset blend well with the leisurely, chatty environment.


Twitter sounds like jazz. Millions of short, staccato notes ebb and flow throughout the day, creating spontaneous improvisation that can swell to a harmonious melody (Marsalis) or to a discordant, free-jazz cacophony (Coleman), depending on the trending topics.

This is the most immediate, real-time method of communication and should be used for short bursts of need-to-know, what’s-happening-right-now information, such as breaking news, a surprising announcement, or a limited-time offer. It’s a way to begin a conversation with hundreds of people and point followers toward more in-depth content. Let your tweets be the sweet note that piques your readers’ interest, leading them toward another action such as visiting your blog or checking out your website.


Venerable LinkedIn is the symphony orchestra of the social media world. Thoughtful, strategic presentation is the repeating theme. Users — professionals and organizations — stick to business; playfulness is kept to a minimum. Getting practical information across is the goal, whether it’s company details, employment information, or short announcements and status updates. For instance, your company may want to post a brief note about a professional conference employees are attending, announce a new product launch, or share company stats.


Then there’s Google +, which is like a garage band right now because you don’t really know what it’s going to turn out to be. It could change the world (Nirvana) or it could end up being one of the many social media options that didn’t capture the attention of the masses (like my college boyfriend’s band). It has great potential and some really useful new tools, but it’s still unknown whether interest and participation will reach critical mass and allow Google+ to become significant. With business pages still in the testing stage, almost all users are individuals at the moment. Ford is one of the early testers and is using its page to post company earnings and product updates, share a few photos, and highlight news articles of interest.

There are lots of other musical comparisons we could make.  MySpace is the “American Idol” winner who never really lived up to his potential (what’s Ruben been up to?), and YouTube brings an anything-goes MTV2-like quality to social media communication.

What’s important is that to tap into the power of each medium, your message must fit within its specific rhythm and style. Think of it this way: What if your audience was expecting the National Symphony Orchestra and got Jay-Z instead?

What other connections do you see (or hear) out there? Please share them in the comments section below.