What do you think is the impact of social media in the way we connect or relate?
Obviously, I’m all for social media, since it’s my business. It’s essential for me personally, as I have many good friends around the world. To stay in contact with 500 people individually by email, phone or chat is difficult. A simple update, photo upload or video share lets all of them know what and how Isoc’m doing. Short personal messages can be exchanged privately via email or publicly on a Facebook wall or Twitter feed. Even local friends are kept updated in between in-person visits. With local friends or very close friends, phone contact is usually essential, as well, although I’m not keen on telephone use, except for short catch-ups or to arrange a meeting.
I don’t avoid face-to-face contact, and I think whenever something is relatively new, the knee jerk reaction of many people is to long for the good old days. In those days it was difficult to meet people from different countries. It was difficult to topple oppressive governments. It was difficult to learn news instantly and to get your message out to the world. Now it is not.
I also think that, while there is rampant abuse and many people are not who you think they are, the level of honest interaction has deepened. People are more willing and able to express their deepest fears, emotions and concerns via social media. They are more willing to be vulnerable. Maybe it’s because they’re sitting at their desks in their bedrooms at home or other safe place. They feel empowered to express themselves. That may be judged good or bad by others, but it often is pure personal expression. To me it seems a positive thing. I think it’s positive to have a kind of self-perspective of how you relate to groups, of how you see yourself in comparison to others, in how others see you. It can be a revelation. Without that kind of open and general exposure one exists in a world that can be entirely in your own head. Social media forces you to bring your world, your perceptions, out into cyberspace and see if it really is workable for you, if it really is what you think it is, if it serves your purpose.
The Social Media Confession Booth
There are many people whom I personally know to be quite negative and pessimistic, and yet their online personas are very cheerful. I don’t know who said it, but paraphrasing goes something like this: if you want to change, change your outward behavior and the internal process will follow. So perhaps there is some benefit.
All of these same points hold true for social media for business, as well as individuals. A company has many target groups, whether locally, nationally or internationally. Social Media is an inexpensive way to engage all of these people in a more personal way. It’s also an efficient way to attract new customers with relevant discussion. Social media has created a new breed of customer, one who demands a certain level of accessibility, a certain level of accountability. They feel empowered to recommend you or to warn against you. Their individual opinions have an influence they didn’t have before social media existed. This has given rise to ORM (Online Reputation Management) but that is a discussion for another time.
A business entity that understands the individual experience of social media and translates that into corporate behavior is way ahead of the pack. What do YOU think?