Un-social media

21Feb10

So, you are calling a client and you have what you will say all laid out.  You expect to get voicemail.  She never answers her phone.  Oh no!   She answers.  You were planning a monologue – no back talk.  Now you have to deal with a dialogue.

Ever do this?  Ever have this happen to you?  I have been on both sides of this scenario.  You can always tell when someone did not expect you to answer.  They stumble.  They fumble.  I know I do.

Now we have Facebook, blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn and much more to help us connect with people without talking to them.  According to Microsoft’s Social Media book for small businesses,  Twitter grew by more than 600% in 2009, while Facebook grew by 210% and LinkedIn by 85%.  We are told that these social media behemoths draw their power from creating communities, stimulating dialogue, conversations and sharing.  Well, sometimes they do.  Some big brands have figured out how to make this work.

Can the rest of us really maintain a meaningful dialogue with dozens, hundreds, thousands of friends, followers and fans?  Social media for most of us is monologue.  More like a personal infomercial than a personal conversation.  And, online socializing removes our ability to take the measure of a person by their tone, their demeanor.  Yes, YouTube is visual but it is more like a performance than an interaction with the audience.

Let me stop here and say that I love social media.  I encourage my clients to embrace it, to make it work for their goals.  Social media enables us to reach a lot more people.  To give voice to our passions and to find people who share them.  Through social media, I have found brilliant people I would never have found, reconnected with people I somehow lost.  

But social media also enables us to be more unsociable than ever.   We can stay in front of our computers, feel connected, without ever really engaging with anyone.   We can click from site to site, turning e-relationships on and off.   Unsociable?  Heck , we can be anti-social.  The other day I asked a website developer if I could hire him to speak with me over the phone to go through some changes to a template of his I had purchased.  He informed me that he would do it but only online.  No dialogue.  OK.  I guess.

I think social media is in its glorious infancy.  I am looking forward to participating in its growth.

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