The Philosophy of Social Media


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Ancient philosophers believed life could be broken down into six different directions:

  1. Above, or Heaven – this reflects your dreams and hopes.
  2. Below, or Earth – this is your grounding and where you are now.
  3. Forward – where you want to be in your life.
  4. Backward – what you’ve overcome and left behind.
  5. Left – those who give you inspiration.
  6. Right – the people you trust most (both right and left are interchangeable – they’re basically your “armies”).

Whether you’re religious, philosophical or not, they’re pretty straightforward and common-sense beliefs that stand tall today. You can use these directions in so many ways.

So how would they fit into social media?


Okay, so there’s no Heaven in social media (unless you count a night on Gary Vaynerchuk’s wine recommendations!), but there are ways to connect the Hope factor.

What do you hope to get out of social media? The connections to new people, or a more business-led scenario? Are you hoping to increase awareness of you or your business/brand, or simply hoping to find out useful information?

Make a list of your hopes and what you want from them. This will help you choose the tools you need when it comes to your Forward direction.


If you’re a new arrival to social media, it can be difficult to find that piece of social media earth to steady yourself on.

How do you become more stable? Be comfortable with yourself. Know what makes you tick and you’ll find the best earth to walk on.

Community-minded? Try Ning. Conversationalist? Try Twitter. Business savvy? Try LinkedIn. Visual person? Try Viddler. Sharing a message? Try BlogTalk Radio. Picture lover? Try Flickr. Avid reader? Try Alltop.

These are just some of the tools that can help you find your own personal comfort zone. Find the one(s) for your needs and build from there. This will help you with your Left and Right direction.

Eyes on social media


This is a little more clear-cut if you’ve already covered the Above direction. Knowing your hopes make it easier to know how you’re going to get there.

Do you want to be recognized as someone to go to for information? Do you want to build a presence primarily on social networks and move away from a more traditional web presence, as Skittles did?

Know what your goal is, and use the tools from your Below direction to help you get there. To make this Forward momentum even more effective, make sure you jettison everything that is behind you and don’t look back.


We all make mistakes. We want to play with everything in the toy shop and taste all the goodies in the candy store. But sooner or later, we get bored with all these toys and sick from all the candy.

When this happens, it often leads to you moving Backward as opposed to the opposite.

Jumping into social media, you probably set up accounts on almost every network. The problem with this is that it spreads you too far, and makes it difficult to cover all the ground Below you.

Don’t worry – we all do this at the start. The trick is to recognize that your time and resources are being stretched and analyze which ones are actually working for you. Choose from the pack, make them the solid ground Below you, and start to move Forward toward your end goal with your Left and Right sides.


When you move in any direction, it’s usually because an idea has formed in your head and you want to act on it. Inspiration comes from many places, and the best inspiration often comes from the most Left field ideas.

There are plenty of people in social media that offer thinking, knowledge and inspiration from the Left. Listen to them and use their knowledge and build on it for your own ideas. Use your blog comments – your readers are the greatest source of inspiration in your own community. Simply put, don’t always go with the flow – genius is never the norm.


The saying “right hand man” is reserved for the most trusted advisor(s). These are the people that you listen to and respect implicitly. They’re the generals that can help you conquer new worlds.

As well as trusted people, your Right hand can also be the tools from the Below direction. Use them together (along with the Left) and you can really reach your Forward destination quicker.

Establish solid relationships with the people that you trust. Be the information guide for them as much as they are for you. This will help you grow the community and together you can reach the plateau that’s currently Above you.

Use tools that have proven their trustworthiness. If you need to be in the know about your name or business, for example, you can’t go far wrong with Google Alerts, Monitter and Social Mention.

Or you want to know who’s in your neighbourhood that you can connect with and exchange views and ideas – MeetUp and Loaded Web are a couple of good resources for this.

These, and more like them, will help you connect to the future Left and Right directors.

Where You Are and Where You’re Going

While these six directions are tailored toward the social media community user, there’s no reason why you can’t transfer them to your offline community as well. All six can help you online and offline, personally and professionally.

So where are you on the path at the minute? Are you looking for direction, or can you help direct us as well? Where can you point us?

The comments are yours.

image: garymccafferty
image: faeks

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown is partner at Bonsai Interactive Marketing, a full service agency offering integrated, social media and mobile marketing solutions. He is also founder of the 12for12k Challenge, a social media-led charity initiative connecting globally and helping locally.


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