Sunday, April 4, 2010

Social Media - A Story of Betrayal

Once you have made the plunge into using Social Media for your business, you're going to note a curious reaction among some of your peers.

Some of them will nod and welcome you into the fold - and others will act as if you've betrayed them. (You *may* even encounter a few who ask you how you're using it and how it's going, but that group will be far smaller than the other two.)

A friend of mine whose job is specifically to foster communications between two industries had been resisting Twitter for some time, mostly because of time constraints. She already blogs, write books, Facebooks and does video. Her husband (who works in the less-communicative of the two industries) had been on Twitter for a while and many folks who work in the more-communicative industry were also there.

When she finally decided to join Twitter, she quickly learned that it was useful, fun and manageable. But those of her friends and peers who had decided to avoid Twitter reacted as if they had been betrayed. ("Et tu, Brute" was actually used.)

As humans, we develop peer groups based on any number of things - things as profound as religion or philosophical worldview and as mundane as sharing recipes and watching the same TV show. With every peer group comes a series of unwritten rules about behavior and objectives. When a person crosses too far over the understood line, that person will be treated as if they have betrayed the group. This is as true for forms of new communications or technology as for anything else.

When party lines were common among telephone users, those people who opted for a private line were viewed with suspicion - what could they possibly say that everyone couldn't hear? And yet, eventually we all opted for private lines - then added extra lines, so each member of the family and the business had their own separate line.

When you think about using Social Media for your business, consider each possible platform an extra phone line to the customers that are on that network.

Have a great brick-and-mortar store that you want more visibility for? It's not a betrayal of your peers if you've decided that Foursquare is exactly where you want to be.

Social Media is talking with people.

It's not a betrayal to open that extra line of communication. Ever.
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