This is a topic I have been meaning to address. It’s a highly debated one and deserves a longer, more in-depth blog post from me. However, I’d like to briefly write about a tweet I noticed this afternoon from @ChrisBrogan.
Here is the article to which Chris referred: http://businessesgrow.com/2010/09/26/social-media-and-the-big-conversation-fail/
And while I believe the author puts forth a valid point, I see a few shortcomings in the article that highlight a crucial lesson for anyone involved in social media, particularly businesses.
Certainly we’ve all been duped on some level into believing that our virtual “friends” are actual friends. We’ve all fallen into the trap of feeling excited, even a strong sense of achievement, when we see that “@XYZ is now following you!” email. We count followers, we talk about all the “friends” we have collected, we monitor blog comments like they may disappear at a moment’s notice. Taking the example that the author presents, we sometimes enter into digital relationships with our online compadres and begin more direct and frequent interactions.
Is that a bad thing?! I don’t think so. It’s all about perspective. Yes, the author came to the sobering realization that, at an extremely sensitive time for his online friend, he hardly even knew “the real” her. But you know what, he wouldn’t have even known she existed had it not been for their shared online presence! At the same time that we should all be grateful for the diminishing divide between all earthly souls thanks to social media, we clearly need to recognize that those communications are but a mere speck on the border-less timeline of our lives.
When a small business owner comes to me and asks for advice, with a befuddled look on his face, on what the hell he should do in the social media space, I relay two paramount theories:
- Your online persona not only needs to match your offline persona (meaning the virtual you and the bones-and-muscle you are one-and-the-same), but nearly all your online efforts should drive and/or support offline interactions. There will never, ever, ever be a digital replacement for a hug, a hand-shake or a shared smile. Passion is an in-person currency. Whether you choose to utilize your online campaigns to drive to offline experience or vice versa, you absolutely must consider both parts of the same equation.
- There is no inherent purpose in social media. We, as owners of the digital landscape, are responsible for its uses. Just because Twitter offers an abbreviated communication platform that could easily lead to my real-world life giving way to Digital Dave doesn’t mean I need to fall victim to the Dark Side. Let’s enact some self-awareness here, even – god forbid – take responsibility for our own actions. We have the power, the creativity and the means to utilize Facebook, Twitter, email and blogs any which way we choose! Let’s be conscious of social media’s potential pitfalls as well as its clear upside and utilize all the available assets to enrich our lives – both online and offline. It’s that easy.