Is It Really Social Media?
Social media is generally a boon to life and business. Social media has created a new boom industry and has added value to many more industries. Just look today at the valuations of Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. Where would many businesses be today if they had not integrated social media into their business, communication and strategic plans?
However, is it really social this social media?
I’m a guy. In fact I am a very task-focused, A-type, driver, jock and coach kinda guy. I like results and I like them fast. I know my strengths and social media is not one of them. I have had to work on my social skills on-line and off-line. My wife Nancy, raised by parents in the world of diplomats, has been schooling me for the past 25 years. Apparently, I am improving!
Social media is here to stay. I need to get good at it even if it is one social medium at a time. In this I am perhaps a luddite tortoise. I will win…it just may take longer.
Nancy uses social media very socially. She has a small circle of friends – past and present - on Facebook and limits herself to only people she truly knows. Me? I use 4 platforms and mostly only for business. I am very strategic in how I use it and with whom I connect. I don’t just connect with someone just because they ask. You wouldn’t do that on the street so why do it on social media?
Nancy and I don’t watch TV but we do do social media. At times social media can prove anti-social. Sometimes around family meal times, social media can be an interruption and, sadly, seem more important than those in the room. Why should someone a world away be more important than those who matter most who have been apart all day and want to share their day with you? Not very social. To me this is symbolic of the threat I believe social media can pose to families and relationships if not managed correctly. The simple rule at home is now no social media at meal times.
In various articles social media has been blamed as a cause for marital strife, separations, affairs and divorces. If that is true then social media is a threat to the social fabric of the family unit. To me, that is very concerning. As a man committed to my family this causes the protector within me to rise up prepared to defend against all threats - foreign and domestic.
On another note, I know people who have thousands of friends, followers, connections and subscribers on social media. They cannot possibly know the all and for some it is purely a numbers game. And you can tell they treat them as such. They are in it for themselves. In the words of Erik Qualman, "Social media has made the web all about me, me, me."
When I was head of global development for a people development company back in 2008-10 Linkedin was a cornerstone of our business development strategy. Now, let me ask you a question…Who hangs out most on Linkedin? The answer from my experience was and is…recruiters. I got swamped everyday it seemed with connections requests from recruiters. Anyone else had that experience? They were not interested in me and my business despite my best efforts to engage with them. I tested these people. I sent them a request for information or asked them a pointed question about their business. Guess what the results were? Less than 1% took notice and actually replied. This was not supporting the claims that this was social media.
For those in business, many pundits on social media just seem to want to sell you something. They just want a transaction NOT a relationship. To these number ninjas you are a number. I don’t know about you but I do not like being a number. Such an approach is not very social. It is actually anti-social. Actually, I would call it unprofessional. To them it’s not social media it’s numbers media. It’s my-list-is-bigger-than-your-list media.
Who here has not had someone tweet, post or broadcast you assuring you that they can build your list by 10,000 in the next 24 hours? I have. You know what? I don’t doubt they can. BUT…these connections will just be numbers and who here likes just being a number? I don’t! All they are promising is a tenuous connection and, at best, the possibility of a one-off transaction. We might as well be reduced to a sequence of binary numbers!
I am sure you have heard it said, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That’s my approach on and off social media. For me to care I have to connect and engage. I need to listen. It’s all about them. The focus is on building a relationship. People like doing with business with people they like and people like them. How do you find out what people are like and if they are likeable? Treat them as a person. In the words of Stephen Covey, "Be interested before being interesting." That is a social approach.
A master of this, who has been helping me and many others around the globe, in the context of business, is Sandi Krakowski, CEO of A Real Change. She is helping me climb the social media learning curve whilst engaging with more and more people. Sandi has hundreds of thousands of followers across various social media and she really engages. So much so she has raving fans around the globe who send her gifts to say thanks for all the help she is providing them to grow their businesses using social media. Sandi gets it and she shares what she has learned. I am beginning to get it.
A while back I recall hearing one mother share that in her day, the streets were filled with kids but today they are nowhere to be seen. Where were they? They were "in a box playing on a box with a box". Her concern, and mine, is that there may be a generation that is losing the art of truly communicating and socialising as we know it. They may be aces on technology but put them in a room of people and they stick to the walls.
Further insight. Sit on a plane, train or bus today or even in a restaurant and you will see people on their mobile phones tweeting, posting etc. Some even look like zombies! Gone, it seems, are the days that you got on a bus, boat, plane or train and actually talked with people around you. From my travels many people seem too caught up in their own world. Hey…they’ll connect with someone they have never met across the other side of the world but they will not speak to someone sitting next to them or standing in the line in front of them. That is just plain wrong. That person next to them could be their new best friend.
The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships – be that at work, rest or play. Social media can help with this provided we are aware that real people need real relationships. We are, afterall, to love our neighbour and to me that person is the one nearby.
I understand social media is here to stay. It can and does a lot of good in this world. I just think we need to be more thoughtful in how we use it to ensure that it is truly social media.
Review your usage of social media. Focus on builidng relationships. Give people the opportunity to engage. Ask them questions. Show your interest.
Dr Richard Norris is a self-leadership master who equips and empowers aspiring men from the boardroom to the locker room to the family room to lead the life they deserve and desire. Clients find Richard’s practical, simple and easy to implement tools, tips and techniques deliver quick results and progress their Journey of Success. Richard’s own self-leadership has developed from a diverse career of experiences as a veterinarian, army officer, competitive swimmer, award-winning coach, speaker, author, husband and father.