Social media in 2013: a crutch or a strategy?
The rise of twitter has brought about opportunities never before available to the masses: the ability to attack others without consequence. “Celebrities get bombarded with hundreds of insults a day,” Jimmy Kimmel tells us. To prove it, he has released a series of ‘mean tweet examples’ read by the stars who received them. A few of my favorites:
- “Selena Gomez is on the radio now. Is there a volume lower than mute?”
- “I saw Larry King at dinner, but it might have been just a run of the mill goblin.”
- “Dear God, give us Tupac back, and we’ll give you Justin Bieber.”
Celebrity hecklers aren’t the only cowards who lurch across the bowels of twitter. Social media is filled with businesses that fit the same bill, and it’s time to be honest about whether yours is one of them.
Here’s what I mean… I recently got married. Anyone who doesn’t understand just how much better off I am because of this decision clearly forgets one key aspect unique to being single: dating.
Dating sucks. More precisely, asking someone out sucks. I spent years trying to figure out ways I could get a girl to date me without actually having to include this step in the process. Get her number from a mutual friend? Check. Group hangout? Check. Facebook poke? Check. Have my friend ask her friend? Check (7th grade).
Yet, despite all of my attempts to circumvent it, no strategy matched the results of the few times I swallowed my pride, looked her in the eye, and said, “I would like to take you to dinner. Can I have your number?”
The challenge of social media today
Asking someone out in person requires courage. It requires overcoming fears of rejection, of the unknown, and of being exposed. We’d never choose it if we could be convinced the results could be attained any other way. But they can’t.
The superiority of in person communication isn’t limited to dating. It’s true in virtually every scenario. The reason is because of the way we receive messages. We are emotional beings who, despite our best efforts, determine how we respond to people largely on the basis of how we feel about them.
When we communicate feelings and emotions, only 7% comes from the words we use. 38% comes from the tone of our voice. A whopping 55% is revealed through our body language – from our facial expressions and eye contact to the way we stand and the amount of space we use.
And with each percentage point, there’s an increase in the opportunity for rejection – which we still worry about just as much as we did in middle school.
Enter social media. It is a place where you can gain all the influence, relationships, sales, and clout without an ounce of the butterflies that would accompany it IRL (in real life). So we flock there. We learn strategies. We send out messages. We friend people. We reference. We connect. We reply.
Top 5 ways to tell if Twitter is your crutch
All the while, we keep our head down to ensure we don’t make eye contact with an actual human. How do you know if you are guilty? Let me give you five scenarios:
- You dodge a phone call so you can email them.
- You are tweeting when you could be meeting.
- You save the hard conversations for email.
- You will approach a prospect on twitter, but won’t in real life.
- You keep your eyes on your phone instead of introducing yourself to the person next to you (on the plane, in the restaurant, at the bar).
Using technology to communicate has made us far more efficient. We can reach more people, gain more insight, and receive better feedback than ever before. But it also allows us to hide – from real people that surround us, that might buy from us, that might introduce us to others, and that might just like us. Perhaps its time to spend less energy learning effective social media strategy, and more learning how to create rapport, build trust, and engage real live human beings.