Social Media=Today’s Relationship Cultivator
Posted by crhunter
Social media has changed the world of relationships, both in personal and business relationships. I was struck by two very important concepts: the sphere of influence (something I seem to be hearing about often lately) and the analogy of courtship and dating. The moment I read these ideas in Socialnomics Chapters Two and Three: Social Media=Preventative Behavior and Social Media=Braggadocian Behavior, I stopped and thought about the impact of social media, and I was indeed struck by thoughts about the scope of influence and impact of social media in our times…just like I am struck by the fact that spell check does not even recognize the words “socialnomics” and “braggadocian” as part of today’s word base. Social media has changed the world of relationships and, furthermore, the world of language.
Before I delve deeper into the dating and courtship analogy, it would be beneficial to also bring to attention some key points of Chapter Two; how does social media cause preventative behavior and why is that so relevant to this idea of cultivating relationships or perhaps preserving our own relationships in some way?
I was immediately interested in this idea of “the sphere of influence,” and as noted, “The difference with social media is the speed and ease in which this [responding to customer unhappiness] occurs as well as the sphere of influence.” Qualman introduces us to this concept in relation to how businesses will adapt their behaviors in response to customer dissatisfaction and frustration. Now companies assign employees to find and handle customer complaints via social media. In essence, they seek and find the problem to avoid losing a customer, or better yet, to prevent that customer from posting a video or status that could potentially go “viral” and affect future customer base growth.
I was especially intrigued when I read the section about Comcast, a nemesis of mine. I have had plenty a battle with Comcast, and had I known that I should simply post a rant on Facebook or post a YouTube video to get someone to contact me instead of waiting endless hours on the phone and getting frustrated, I might have done so, but it never occurred to me to complain via social networking. If I knew that the company might reach to me to repair a broken relationship because I might spread bad press to others in my sphere of influence (or followers,) I might have tried it just to see if it worked. I found that Comcast cares (see ComcastCares article). I am still in disbelief that a Comcast member would seek me out when I have a problem. I am not sure I believe this yet. I am left wondering if it would still happen today or if Comcast has grown too big to care since Socialnomics was published in 2009. Should I try it the next time I want to “break up” with Comcast and see if my date comes calling?
Back to the sphere. Social media is much about followers, and the more followers one has, the more influence one might have on those followers. I can see how companies must be in tune with their customers’ use of social media. Company behavior definitely changes in light of this new method of sharing positive or negative feedback.
Those same followers and members of our social media sites can also “see” and read our every move. Social media does force preventative behaviors beyond just companies altering how they treat their customers…as described in Chapter Two, students, teachers, parents, and more must be aware of what is placed “out there” for the world to view. Social networks are “powerful enough to cause an adjustment in personal and corporate behavior on a macro level.” Our relationships have certainly changed in this way. What do we want to share? What ghosts do we want flying out of our closets? We must know and realize what could come back to haunt us now that social media has taken over.
Next, I was immediately drawn into Chapter Three’s “Are You on Facebook?” Is the New “Can I Get Your Phone Number?” section. Wow! Talk about the evolution of dance! How about the evolution of dating? And taking this courtship idea into the world of business makes sense, too.
I was entertained by the idea that we can become somewhat creepy if we present to people that we already “know” them on a first date because we have already “Facebooked” him or her. Qualman notes that the first date could actually feel more like a fourth date now that we do not have to “court” each other because Facebook offers that preliminary information we want before we even get to the dating part. This is not how I grew up dating. I did not Google anyone or Facebook anyone or Tweet anyone while I was dating. It is weird to me to think that might be the norm now for courtship….I guess I am a true face-to-face romantic at heart…but if I could have Googled some of my former dates, I probably would have avoided one or two of them totally.
I really enjoyed this analogy in terms of dating and businesses. Many businesses try to suck customers into their homepage via social media. They become the creepy dates. Qualman writes, “It’s analogous to meeting a pretty girl in a bar and asking if she would like a drink. When she responds, ‘yes,’ rather than ordering her drink from the bartender, you grab her and rush her into your car and drive back to your place; because after all, you have beer in your fridge. This is not a sound courtship strategy….” Now that would be creepy… “Hi, may I buy you a drink? Okay, come get in my car and come to my house.” Thanks, but no thanks! I am not really into jumping into cars with strangers.
I really see that both personal and business relationships have been so very affected by social media, and part of me longs for simpler days with less technology involved in our relationships, but these two chapters really had me thinking about all of this…and I am just so not socially connected compared to younger generations growing up in a world with constant status updates and posts and videos and tweets and all of it. I can only handle so much information streaming into my life from friends and family. I am married, so I get actual updates in person from my husband…no real courtship going on there anymore (just good ol’ husband and wife conversation).
There was so much in these two chapters that I am taking with me. Two more key points that really grabbed my attention from Chapter Three included Assess Your Life Every Minute and The Next Generation Can’t Speak. Social media makes me feel like I must assess my life every minute (and the reading here supported this feeling), but I am so involved in working, schoolwork, and taking care of my family that I cannot keep up with my own social media. I don’t. I am lucky if I check Facebook more than twice a week; it becomes a weekend activity most of the time. Now with my Smartphone, I can do it more easily, but, honestly, I do not want to read constant status updates that feel superfluous to me at times, never mind trying to post the tasks and routine activities of my days and nights. Why post this: “I am so tired I could just fall over right now”? Do my family and friends need to know this? Will I even remember the context of that post long days from now? Probably not. But most of my friends and some family members post these updates multiple times a day. I find much of the “all about me, me, me” braggadocian behavior present in the status updates of my younger cousins (all young adults in college at this time.) I love them just the same; they have less complicated lives than I do, so I even envy their ability to find importance in posting the fact they are going to get a coffee from Starbucks (I end up thinking: wouldn’t that be nice right now?
I did, however, think about how social media allows me to go back and review life’s minutes (I LOVE this idea.) When I do post, they are definitely the moments I want to capture. I love the idea of somehow scrapbooking my year in status updates…I am sure there is an app for that somewhere.
Finally, it is difficult for me to spend much time writing about how the next generation cannot speak because I am teaching them daily. I see it in every form of communication I have with them, and my instinct is to try to help communication then and now meet in the middle somehow. The entire section from the book had me thinking about how to address their needs in every communication arena from chat to email to personal face-to-face interactions. And I could not believe that public speaking is feared more than death these days….Whoa! A fear greater than death…that is a giant fear, and I can actually sympathize because I was secretly feeling better about myself when I read that fact. Put me in an auditorium or room of more than 30 students (whom I can control) and I am “outta” there.
And so, I know two very important things right now: no one is viewing my social media sites in an effort to date me (just not happening). Furthermore, now that I know some businesses might treat people like dates that they wish to continue seeing and courting, I am going to think about how this impacts daily living and business relationships of all sorts. As my grandmother would say if she were here, “Interesting, very interesting.”
P.S. – My grandmother never Facebooked anyone in her entire life, and part of me wishes I had her life in status updates, so I could keep them forever as an example of real “courtship”. She and my grandfather would have had the best status updates…I can “hear” them now!
Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Hoboken, N.J., John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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