“Trying stuff is cheaper than deciding whether to try it.” As Stephen Downes noted, this showed up quite a few places yesterday, though I came across it first on Kottke.org. Kottke and others quote from a LinuxWorld posting that suggests knowing when to kill something—in this case, GooglePages—can be as important as trying it in the first place.
As it happens, I finished up a brief article earlier in the day that encourages organizations to jump in and try out one or more forms of social media. It’s free in most instances, and the learning curve is not particularly steep. As suggested previously in Just Do It (But Strategically)—and as the LinuxWorld author suggests—don’t get bogged down in lengthy meetings that ultimately cost more than simple experimentation.
On the other hand, while I think a lot of learning can be gained from experimenting just for the sake of experimenting, most organizations benefit from having a general strategic framework in which experimentation takes place. Why? Among other benefits, it helps you know when to quit.
Organizational cultures being what they are, it can also help to experiment first in a safe sandbox—for instance, inside your organization
rather than in front of your customers or members. To that point, Michele Martin has a great post over on The Bamboo Project aptly entitled Don’t Want to Look Stupid in Front of Your Customers? Start Playing with Social Media Inside Your Organization First.
One great thing about experimenting with social media internally, of course, is that social media tools provide a platform for conversation among staff and other key stakeholders like board members or volunteers. Conversation can and should drive strategic thinking. Further experimentation can then occur within a more strategic context. It’s a beautiful cycle. Somebody get me a tissue.