11 May 2009

Social media - the end of human communication?

11 05 2009 - Recently I had a talk with a wonderful lady who has been a successful marketer for many years. She was lamenting all the commotion with Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, LinkedIn and social networking today. She commented that she likes to connect by talking with people on the phone  - "real communication" is what she called it.

I understand where she's coming from and have to agree -- partly. Technology can never take the place of true human-to-human communication. I love sitting with friends over a meal, over drinks and sharing about life, business, fun, ideas, concepts and more. "Visiting" is what it is called in the South. "Hanging with your buds" is another way to refer to it.

Relationship Marketing (I like to capitalize those important words!) is the most important activity we can do in business. Connecting with other people is vital. One way to do it is with live, face-to-face meetings. That was the primary way people connected centuries ago. Somewhere around the end of the 1800's they came up with a new-fangled communication tool called the telephone. I'm sure there were people who said, "Well, if I want to talk with someone I'll walk or take my horse over to see them. I want a real connection." They didn't trust the new-to-them technology of a telephone.

I saw the same thing with email as it emerged a few years ago. Today we have so much of it that we crave short messages. I somehow think Twitter's 140-character limit is an answer to that.

So, when we see Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking services emerge, does it mean the demise of real human connections?

Not on your life!

Relationship Marketing is about being close to prospects, customers and important stakeholders in business. It is about providing value to the other person. If your Twitter message is nothing more than "I'm getting groceries now," -- shame be upon you! You deserve to be ignored. Instead, pass along information that can be helpful to at least some of your followers. That's where Twitter really shines.

All of these social networking services are about connecting with people. My friend who lamented these services and wanted to only connect through telephone is limiting the amount of contact, and hence the amount of business she can generate. I view communication as a wide range of options. A quick YouTube video which your perspective clients view connects at a basic level. A one-to-one luncheon with someone is a much deeper level of connection. However, you can't have a 3-hour lunch with everyone, everyday otherwise you'd never get any work done!

And you can't Tweet all day (that's the term for those who send messages on Twitter) and expect to get work done. Yes, you can generate business but even self-appointed Twitter gurus I've heard speak have to stop sending their Tweets to speak about it!

By the way, I recently discovered a new tool called TweetCall ( that allows you to leave a Tweet via your phone. Once you've registered (for free) you dial a toll-free number and leave a message up to 140 character (about 20 words). This can be great to leave quick messages even faster. I've used it for about a week and have been very impressed. Try it! To see a video of this bounce over to and check it out.

So, what's the key for a dedicated, serious-minded Relationship Marketer to do? Well, I am not a "Twitter guru" (I'll leave that ominous title to others) but I do know a thing or two about Relationship Marketing. Use these tools in moderation to help others. Don't just toot your own horn but find ways to provide value for them.

Examples would be a quick message with a link to a great video that is of interest to your recipients. Send out a notice with a helpful idea. Then be sure to "Re-Tweet" a message to others. This is the Twitter way of forwarding a message to others and patting someone on the back (digitally, of course!).

It always goes back to helping others and caring for them in a genuine way. I was just on the phone with a long-time friend and trusted colleague who told me about a particular person. She told me how this person simply tried to sell her his services and didn't really care about helping her. I found similar reactions as this same guy tried to sell me his stuff. I don't care if he is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or comes over and knocks on my door -- my opinion of him is diminished because of his actions towards me and my friend.

Bottom line? Commit to being a Relationship Marketer with genuine care to solve the other person's problems. Next, learn the nuts, bolts and wiggle pins of new technologies that make sense for you. Don't get frazzled. No, these Social Media tools are not the demise of real human connections.

Used properly, they can help us strengthen and grow genuine, real relationships for profit and mutual benefit in business.

Source: Portland Business Journal

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