Is Social Media an Art or a Science?

This blogpost’s title sounds like a simple question, right?

Given all the algorithms, methodologies, metrics, and code behind social media, you’d think the answer would be relatively straightforward, right?

Well, it’s not!

Let’s discuss this!

For me, social media is an art and not a science.

(Look, this is my blog and I get to have an opinion.  I especially feel entitled to break with the conventional wisdom here because I managed to earn a Masters of Science in Computer Science.  So, if anyone’s entitled to an opinion here, it’s me!)

Wikipedia defines art as:

A diverse range of human activities involving the creation of visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), which express the creator’s imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

OK, maybe I’m stretching a point here, but bear with me for a moment.

Look at this part of that definition:

express the creator’s imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

This for me is what social media is all about.

The owner of the social media platform is expressing her imagination, her thoughts, and applying her technical skills to be appreciated by her audience.

Despite all the talk about algorithms and methodologies, social media (e.g., text, pictures, video, sound, etc.) is all about appealing to an audience through various media on social media to obtain a certain result.

I don’t care whether the desired result is to have people buy a book or just join someone’s online community to hang out and play Dungeons & Dragons.

There is an emotional appeal being made at some level.

Yes, tools may be used.

But, do we say the Mona Lisa is a science project merely because da Vinci mixed his own paints and made his own brushes.

No, we don’t!

(At least, you better not!)

Developing a footprint on social media, learning whom to engage with, and with what content are subjective mysteries that every practitioner of the so called Dark Arts has to decide for herself.

There are no formulas to produce a winning social media campaign.

There is only trial and error and the knowledge gained by experience.

The old saying, “The journey is its own reward.” is as true in social media as it ever was in philosophy.

There are no silver bullets in social media.

So, remember, when you sit down to work on your next social media campaign, the journey is as much about you as it is your ultimate goal.

That’s it for now!

Please check out my 8 step approach for developing a social media program for more ideas on how to use social media.

Also, never forget to reach out to either ask questions or to ask for help from someone like myself!
In the meantime, thank you for following and reading my blog.

I look forward to any and all comments that you may have. I will reply to any comments made to this blog post as promptly as I can.

And, remember!

I do this for a living and if I can be of any assistance to either you or your organization, please feel free to call on me. Our initial discussion will be of no charge to you.

I can also be reached at

My Twitter handle is @conpsweeney.

Stay well!

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