The Power Of Intent

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The word "should" is more powerful than you might imagine. How do you think people should Blog, use Twitter or post videos on YouTube?

I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to "should"-ing all over people. We tend to make grand assumptions in hopes that people do things online the way "God intended them to be" – whatever that means. Does that mean that anything goes? Does that mean that there are no rules? Absolutely not, but – as the famous saying goes – "the inventor rarely knows what the invention is for." The fact still remains that if you’re reading this Blog posting, you are clearly an early adopter. The majority of people do not understand what Twitter is for, so they use it how they know best (to follow Oprah or Ashton Kutcher – they’re simply not interested in any form of conversation), at the same time, people like me mouth off that Twitter isn’t really doing what it was "supposed to do" (see: Half Of Your Twitter Efforts Are Wasted – The Trouble Is We Don’t Know Which Half).

Who says anything should be used in one specific way?

Let’s take a closer look at Twitter to better understand the power of intent. If you’re a company and you would like to notify those interested when you post a news item or add a product line, but you have zero interest in engaging in Twitter much beyond using it to simply broadcast those news items, who is to say that this is not the "right way" to use Twitter? If there are people interested and following those tweets (however big or small the group of followers may be) and as long as it is tightly tied to an overarching business strategy, why not use Twitter in a way in which many of us would think is counter-intuitive?

Your intent is not my intent.

It’s beyond the concept of "live and let live" – all of these platforms, technologies, tools and channels offer a myriad of ways to connect and build community (or simply drive sales), and while there are many among us that are seasoned veterans mingling with those fresh out of school, you don’t need a college degree or fifteen years in the business to understand what your consumers want and how to give it to them.

Intent is everything.

If broadcasting in a conversational channel works for you, who is anyone else to judge?


  1. Thank you for articulating what I’ve felt for years. I despise “etiquette” and “dos and donts” posts and books relating to the use of new tools. It’s a grab for ownership and authority by individuals who are supposedly advocating decentralised control of knowledge.
    These new tools is that they are used in very personal ways. Individual communities might have certain guidelines but tools – let’s hope never.
    And yes, some people lurk and/or get turned off by these tools. The point of them is they offer options, not solutions.

  2. Excellent points and great seed for conversation Joel.
    If Kutcher, Ellen, Oprah and my mom are just hopping on Twitter to only push out information without any desire to engage then it works exactly like it should for them. I wonder if the heavy Twitter users and social media biggies mean “capitalize on” or “best use to one’s advantage” or even “leverage” when saying “should”. Semantically “should” has a very authoritative and ownership bend when in fact we are only participants in the experience and maybe only @biz or @ev have the right to say “should” in the twittersphere. Even though I would argue that they would feel that the way you, I, the used car lot down the street and my mom use Twitter are all the way we “should” use it. If Twitter is a conversation tool then we can just look to verbal language to see the thousands of ways people use slang, mash up, create soliloquies, sing operas (and so on ad infinitum) to ask if any of these uses ways we “should” or “should not” use it. Yes, their may be format rules but use and design are not always the same.
    Thanks for taking the time to write the post
    Craig Moore

  3. I also agree. It does depend on the personal usage and I think it depends on how wide you want throw out your “net” for info in the channel/medium. Example I’ve kept my Twitter list small to who I feel are industry thought leaders and I find that there isn’t much that isn’t valuable coming through (it’s what notified me about this blog post).
    That’s my usage.

  4. This post touches a nerve. Years ago, I was in my “you should”. Over time you realize there’s no “right” way. And if there were, you’re unlikely to know it. And even if you did know, how would you get anyone else to agree?
    It’s much better to “live and let live”. Tony Robbins said that people do things for reasons that make sense to them (but perhaps not to us). When you have a child or pet, or work with strangers, you realize how little effect you have.
    There’s a reluctance to start something new for fear of doing it “wrong”. We can lead by example. Newcomers then have a way to skip some of our mistakes, which helps them find their own voices faster. They can confidently do what they want.

  5. Nothing worse than some guy coming up to you and asking “So…you gonna do it like that are you?”
    Jimi Hendrix played the guitar upside down.
    And aside from the tragic drug-induced death at the end, he did pretty well for himself…
    So…as long as it’s doing for you what you want it do, you should go on with your bad self.
    Cool post, Seth. Definitely a issue that needed to be discussed.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. If everyone followed the “rules” we’d all be telling everyone what we are doing right now, since that’s how it was intended. And in fact, that’s the question that’s still asked on the Twitter site. Use it in whatever manner suits your purpose.
    There are far too many articles with the “10 must follow Twitter rules,” that state things like “follow everyone who follows you.” I do like articles that suggest how you might benefit most from Twitter in certain situations, but hard and fast rules like the one above are just dumb.
    Follow whomever you want. Don’t follow people you aren’t interested in, or follow everyone. It doesn’t really matter. As long as you are getting what you want and/or need, there are no rules.

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