Grab the reins…

This week’s readings were pretty interesting, since I don’t consider myself as being very familiar with social networking. So the article by Boyd and Ellison out of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication was a good start to learn more about the history and some of the few researches that have been done here in the U.S. According to the authors “social network sites are structured as personal (or ‘egocentric’) networks, with the individual at the center of their own community” – or like Baron states they are for relationships that are not “physically proximate” [p. 71]. One thing seems for sure, social network sites will reshape offline social geography (Lee Humphrey in Boyd/Ellison). How so? Well the just the simple fact “that ‘friends’ on social network sites are not the same as ‘friends’ in the everyday sense” (Boyd/Ellison) will have a great impact on our social skills overall. Often we use these sites by staying connected with people we don’t really want to go through the effort and really connect with them by spending time with them and by sharing our lives. As email seems to be outdated in the younger generation already and the new way to communicate is via text, IM or social network sites like Facebook, as there will be a different form of social interactions created. I guess the process started already.

However, to me more interesting is the professional aspect of social network sites. Qualman offered in both chapters great examples on how customer service can be redefined using these tools. I never heard about vanity search or Miles. I found the example about the how to connect with your customers as really eye-opening. For a short while I worked for a real estate broker. I held a few open houses and my main goal was to get people’s email addresses. It didn’t matter if they weren’t really interested in that particular house. It mattered to connect with them, to reach them, to get their email so that we then later could send them newsletters etc. about other listings. According to Qualman, it is nowadays not anymore about getting that person into my database, but it is about starting a real – well online – relationship with the customer via social networks. “Your customer wants to have a relationship with you and even help out where they can. All it takes is honesty, transparency, listening, and reacting” [56]. To boil it all down: Let the consumer brag about your products – not you. After reading those chapters, Molisani’s article in the Intercom was tailored even more to our profession. He states: “Our job is not to write user manuals and sales brochures. Our job is to get user-optimized content to people when they need it and where they want it. In other words, follow your audience” [4].

Even though, I try not to share my private life that much on social network sites, I believe Molisani is right that we as Technical Communicators have to leave a digital (positive) footprint of our works. We have to know these tools and platforms to be able to advise our customers and employers how to best connect with their audience – and we have to brag about it … online. To speak with his words: Let’s start “grabbing the reins of” our “career and steering it where” we “want it to go”.

Posted on September 23, 2012, in Social Media, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I found the aspect about social media and business interesting too. One thing I considered is that I don’t really want to talk to sales people over the internet. That is, if I am interested in buying a car, I would rather discuss it in-person. To some degree, I would find it invasive if a company took it upon themselves to seek me out on a social media site. As a result, I may not buy the product.

  2. I agree that the follow-your-audience point in the Jack Molisani’s Intercom article is a valuable one. Taking a customer from a social networking site, for example, and directing them to your company website isn’t always the best route. As I was reading this, I thought of all the times I’m on a Web page and click a link, which then opens a new site in the same browser window I was using. This is a bit of a turn-off for me when I’m not anticipating it. Molisani’s article made me rethink my reaction—maybe I feel this way because the company hasn’t established any sort of (online) relationship with me. Many of the companies that seem to thrive with the latest online media are those that blend in and use it how their customers use it.

  3. I was reading about Facedeals the other day, and I can’t decide if it’s a program that helps to build relationships or if it is simply snooping around in our established relationships and reacting to those. From what I understand, a consumer signs on with the company, giving it permision to look at your Facebook information. Then, when you enter businesses that have the Facedeals cameras with facial recognition, Facedeals spots you and sends you deals or discounts for that business, customized based on your Facebook data. I’m not sure I want to invite marketers into my life to that degree.

  4. I’m currently working with a MSTPC student on her thesis that examines the role of social media in health care institutions. Given the privacy concerns with sensitive information, you would assume doctors would be against it, but this post just went up that counters that, with some good reasons: http://childrenshospitalblog.org/healthcare-needs-social-media/

    I will let you all know when she defends her work because you may be able to attend!

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