“It’s a process, not a product.”


When describing Wikipedia in his book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky says, “It’s a process, not a product.” Maybe it’s because I was listening to an audiobook version instead of reading print (another innovation in traditional communication!), or maybe it was the exposure to so many blogs and social media tools over the past two weeks that it finally hit me: social media in its entirety is a process, not a product. Okay, seems silly and simple, and a little stupid, but for some reason this made the whole thing a little less scary. As a type-A individual who loves a polished, finished product, that feeling of accomplishment when something is done and sent off, those little moments of instant gratification, my initial view of social media was that every post on every site had to be extremely refined and calculated, and that brought in a bit too much stress. How can you keep up with all those different sites and keep everything up to par?






Blogs, and especially health blogs, should be well-written and factual, and in some cases well-researched. Professional organizations need to spend a considerable time investing in their organization’s social media presence.  However, using social media to simply start a conversation, start a process doesn’t need to be a huge endeavor, nor does every post need to be New York Times ready. In fact, I think a mix ultimately keeps readers attracted and engaged. Just bringing someone’s attention to an idea or fact can still have great purpose, even if you aren’t providing all the answers.  Posing a question can bring a lot of new voices to the table and attract people to an organization’s greater purpose or mission. To many, using blogs to pique people’s interests and invite people to also be a part of the process can be just as, if not more, valuable than publishing a research paper in JAMA.




4 thoughts on ““It’s a process, not a product.”

  1. I was just having this conversation with my husband this morning. I was telling him how for so long I was too intimidated to start a blog because I thought I needed to be an authority on something before I shared out about it. What I’m finding so fun about this class is taking a topic I’m interested in (like Twitter this week, for example) and sharing out my process on getting acquainted with it an the tools/resources I turned to to get started. I’m not an expert at Twitter, in fact I’m the last person that should be considered an authority, but I do LOVE researching, asking advice, and learning best practice. So that’s what I get to contribute and that’s ok. BOOM – social media mastery 😉

  2. This is a great post. I think this is a common feeling. I recently started a blog and at first I was sending my drafts to others for review, Then I realized its ok to have my own voice and ideas. People can read it or not and they will certainly often not agree with me. Because I do a lot of discussion of law and vaccination, I worry mostly about accuracy. I make sure my facts are right — but I don’t pretend to be an expert. I find, now, though that the more I blog, the more comfortable I feel with my own style.

  3. This is a great post and I appreciate the premise shared by you and Clay Shirky that social media and new media have (sometimes) fundamentally different ends. Social media is a discussion, a relationship, a snap shot along a path of engagement. And traditional media is an article, a highly substantiated claim, a work of art. Both contribute extremely important things and, now, both overlap so much that it can be difficult to disentangle what’s what. But, fundamentally, my favorite modern works of genius manage to be both, to do both.

  4. Great point (and reminder) that social media is a process. Of the approaches we’ve investigated so far, the power of Twitter and the processes that go into “trending” on Twitter (and I do believe that for people other than Angelina Jolie and Justin Beiber, there is a process to gaining a trending status) have been the most convincing to me that public health and social media are made for each other.

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