The importance of being human

Why are you on social media? Is it to sell something? To meet new people? To network with people you already know? To inform or advocate?

Even if your choice is information and advocacy, if all you ever do is shout through a megaphone, you are defeating the purpose of *social* media. If your job is outreach, then 2-way communication is a must. Do you actually care about the person to whom you just provided information? Do you care if he understood what you said? If not, then you probably aren’t being as informative as you think.

Here’s my real world analogy: Suppose you walk up to someone on the street and tell them something you think is important and walk away, regardless of whether that person has questions? What would people think of you? Frankly, how would you even know if your point got across?

Translated to social media:

  • Do you answer comments? Do you respond to mentions on Twitter? You should.
  • On Facebook, when someone thanks you for a post in a comment, how long does it really take you to hit that Like button? You’re there, looking at it already – it’s not that much of a time drain.
  • On any platform that allows comments/questions, are you too busy to answer? It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I will get back to you on that.”

Social media is a communication tool, just like a telephone.  If someone called you and asked a question, would you hang up on them? If you did, you’d have some very angry customers. If you don’t have time to answer the phone or respond to social media enquiries, then maybe you should consider a different medium or enlisting a community manager.

Comments and questions are welcome here!

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4 responses to “The importance of being human

  1. Very well put — if you imagine conducting these exchanges with real people instead of just “accounts,” you will rarely go wrong and often go right. It’s interesting to me that it’s a similar discussion around sales … the best salespeople I know don’t forget that sales happen around *real* relationships. Which is not to say they’re always deep or ongoing, but they are real. Genuine, honest. As you say, human.

    Thanks for such a clear statement of this!

    • Thank you, Will, and please accept my apologies for the delayed response. While this looks like a statement on marketers, it was actually precipitated by a conversation with an emergency communications person. Especially when providing information to the public, I think it’s extremely important to be willing to answer questions, even if you think you’ve said what you need to say. I, personally, find that often when someone doesn’t understand what I said, it was my failure to communicate, so it’s on me to try another way, if I feel that what I said was important.

  2. Agree, you’ve got to care and listen, and maintain a REAL presence.

    • There is something to be said, I think, for our propensity to think we’re being present by posting a lot. I realize that I have a rather large number of Twitter followers, for never having bought any and not being part of team followback (more on that another time). Once, again, though, I shall return to citing The Dunbar number. There’s a limited number of people that one really interacts with at any given time, though the members of that group may shift as sand. I think it’s terribly important to recognize those people, when possible. I certainly don’t mean to say that some huge brand can interact with 10K people or anything – but if you look at an account like Church World Service, they have always been friendly and have taken the time to say thanks. That’s really important in my book.

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