After a recent holiday party, I awoke to a disgusting display of an interesting communication system: an ant colony. The community structure of an ant colony can offer a great reference for the way the rush to social media has been implemented within our own society.

While cleaning up the mess of a tiny bit of sugar left out overnight—and momentarily missing the benefits of a frozen winter—I had a chance to watch the ants in various roles. It was interesting to compare it to how trends develop and become a mass movement, such as the rush to social media that we have seen over the past year or so. Some of the ants were frantic when their path was disturbed, some ran for an alternate path, but the vast majority of ants continued on their path to a destination that had long-since been thrown out.

Watching this display, I considered how we are nearing the end of the “Year of Twitter,” and how many people tweet only to step in line with the ant in front of them. The goal in any marketing tool should be to support your overall marketing strategy. Before embarking on a new method, consider the following ant-colony-related questions:

Has the sugar at the end of your route been cleaned up?

In other words, are you on a path that has already changed? Is the tool or trend you are considering old news?

Are you following the ant in front of you because of peer pressure?

Where do you get your information? Consider the source, and find a method for analyzing the validity of a trend. Don’t just step in line and follow the flow. This does not tell your potential clients anything about your business or product.

Who do you trust?

Once again, consider the source for the messages you are receiving- but also find a maven in your field. Finding a few sources of consistent and trustworthy news that will provide valuable and trusted information to you directly. Establishing resources where you are able to fact check and substantiate your news is also helpful.

(photo Houston Marsh)

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