Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Lively Art of (Social Media) Conversation? Or Cognitive Dissonance?

Hey Everyone,

The weather in Chicago has been spectacular and I'm hoping you've been blessed by the weather gods as well!  It was a long winter and we've earned a nice warm breeze for a change.

I shared my last post with some of my LinkedIn groups and also discussed it in "offline" conversations as well.  Everyone agreed in principal with the recruiter as well as Jim Matorin, founder of Smartketing, who posted this really great comment (see below):

"The key word here is engagement.  I am beginning to realize people are struggling with this concept both as marketers and networkers.  As a result (I am going out on the limb here), those that circle back and utilize that personal touch, what I call ATP (Authenticity Touch Points) will be the real movers and shakers in the future, while the rest will sit back and begin to wonder why their social media initiatives failed.  When this happens, the buzz about social media will diminish and people will move on to the next hot topic since Web 2.0 has made us more ephemeral as a society." 

I love social media but I think Jim's right in saying that there's got to be an offline aspect to the online connecting to be relevant in the long term.  I believe in a three dimensional symbiotic style of relationship where I'm able to tell you and share with you what it is I bring to the table beyond how well I write a profile on LinkedIn or how witty I am with my tweets.  As I mentioned previously, I've got to earn your trust while I'm delivering what's valuable to you which drives Jim's Authenticity Touch Points.  I'll share with you two separate incidents that happened to me recently that bring Jim's point home.  

Number One
I briefly met someone at a recent networking event, exchanged cards and agreed we should speak further as time was limited.  This person was proactive and connected with me rather quickly on LinkedIn and followed me on Twitter prior to scheduling a time to speak.  I accepted the add, returned the follow favor on Twitter and scheduled a phone call with her to learn about her business and offer ways to drive referrals (or information) to her.  We finally spoke this week.  Literally just two hours after the call, I received a DM from that person on Twitter:  

"Thank you for following me.  Go to (site hidden) for current relevant info for marketing yourself and your brand."

Here were my thoughts:  "Huh?  Why am I receiving this system generated DM from you a few hours after we've spoken to one another?  Why are you sending me to your manager's blog?"

Cognitive dissonance.  This new relationship started offline, went online, germinated offline but then all of that nascent good will veered unintentionally off course.  I recognize Twitter has a lead generation tool but my point is that the human touch element has to intervene and ask before you pull that automated DM trigger: Is this appropriate?  Does it fit the conversation I've had or need to have?  Does this position me in the most flattering light?

Number Two
I received an invitation to connect along with a specific note from someone whom I've not met in real life.  I looked at this person's profile to learn what we might have in common and accepted the invitation.  I also included this note:

"Thanks for the add and your note! I would like to learn how I can be a good connection for you. Is there a time this week that you are available to chat "live" (so to speak)?"

Folks, my reward for trying to create meaningful and fruitful connections was a grammar lesson.  I was informed that I should have used the word "could" instead of can.  

Here were my thoughts: "Huh?  Ok, you're right I made a mistake but...  You invited me to connect.  I'm trying to jumpstart the relationship and be more than another notch on your connection lipstick case (paraphrasing Pat Benatar)."

Cognitive dissonance.  But for LinkedIn, I would not have known this person which makes it an insanely great tool for the good.  I was eager to develop a relationship but was surprised by the online (clearly needed) grammar lesson.  I was willing to generate goodwill but now, I'll admit that I'm not as motivated.

Before someone says that these are a reflection of the younger generation, the anecdotes represent both the Boomers and the Millennials.  There is a cross generational struggle with how to best harness all forms of social media while at the same time building trusting and meaningful relationships with business partners and customers.

Yesterday, I listened to Brian Solis speak about Social Media Optimization courtesy of the nice people at Hubspot.  It, like his other webinar I shared with you before (here and here), was excellent.  One of the concepts was about Social Objects (blog, tweet, YouTube video, etc.) and how we have to increase these objects' findability using appropriate keywords, hashtags, etc., with the goal of incremental leads and maybe revenue.  He also has a new spin for CEO: Chief Editorial Officer.

Quite good and he was, as before, spot on.  What gives me pause is Jim's quote and what I call "stickiness" (or what makes customers want to stay with me instead of heartlessly leaving me for another).  Beyond great content which increases my Social Objects' findability, what am I bringing to the table?  Am I earning trust via delivered value?  Have I taken pains to learn about my customers, understand what they need even if they can't articulate it and deliver solutions that mean something to them?

Connecting with others via social media is no different than connecting with customers.  How we choose to interact with new connections has to be more than a Twitter follower or connection hunting on LinkedIn.  Are we earning their trust while delivering value?  Do we introduce them to others that may help grow their business, do we send referrals or do we recommend them to others?  The only way we can do any of these activities is to interact with them personally, online and offline.  In other words, we need to engage.

Thanks for continuing the conversation both here and on LinkedIn.  Shoot me an email if you'd like, too!


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

1 comment:

  1. Parissa:

    Your blog has kicked in my networking juices this morning. Thank you. I am beginning to struggle with forging online relationships thanks to all the fertilizer I have experienced. As a result, I am beginning to develop a better filtering system which also involves spending less time trying to connect with people and more time engaging with the meaningful relationships I have established. Your blog this morning validated that I will be pairing back in the amount of time I invest on LinkedIn.