Social media relationships: don’t play the “140 game” only

Chris Hall who blogs at Here’s a post by Chris Hall, who blogs on Cowbell and is one of the administrators of the Social Marketing Forum (see  his profile here). 

It’s about social media relationships and ‘real relationships’, a topic I covered recently

It’s about you, the social media user, but it also holds a message to businesses that want to engage their customers through social media. 

Take it away, Chris…

It’s a thought that’s been whirring around my mind for a while now as I’ve been watching the social media channels fill up with 140 character messages, status updates, wall posts, blog comments and image uploads, and I’ve started to realize that too many people don’t seem to mind that they’re playing their lives out on computer screens or through their smart-phones.

I appreciate that the very fact you’re reading this demonstrates that we’re both playing a part in the same side show but hopefully by the end of this you’ll take the thought away that all your energy and raison d’être should be channeled into forming close relationships and holding direct communications with all who you feel worthy of your time.

It was a year ago when I first registered for Twitter. Like you, I didn’t know anybody. I watched, listened and began to engage in conversation. After a while, I realized that I was often communicating with the same people, sometimes in replies and other in direct messages. They were my new online friends, and I had made it. I was in! Or was I?

Twitter is not the basis of a relationship, it’s the start

The question I’m asking is are replies and DM’s in 140 characters the basis of a proper relationship? I think, and hope, not! I’m not advocating that we don’t converse across the social media landscape but that once the communication channels are open, and we have mutually agreed (personally and professionally) that we want to carry on our dialogue that we occasionally (as occasionally as possible) use the old fashioned way of picking up the telephone or arranging to meet and talk.

There is no doubt that through social communication I now have some of the best relationships I’ve ever had in my near 40 years. There are many I meet with, some, I call, a few, I email and plenty, I ‘140′ with. I have some I call my best friends and others who I share business interests with (a few are both). This level of relationship cannot be formed in soundbites or snippets of communication.

I NEED to talk to people. Others NEED to talk to me. You’ll be amazed with what happens when we do this. When you see people smile, get angry, passionate, excited, interested or just good old listening then you feel part of them and part of what you’re both trying to achieve.

If we all (the social media early adopters) start to facilitate this change across our wider networks then the whole experience will be a better one for all. This includes businesses too. If we use Twitter as the example organizations want to engage with their communities. What better process is there than connecting in the stream; talking and engaging with them and then moving towards direct contact in the form of face-to-face or at least telephone. My guess is that things might just happen if they do.

There is nothing wrong with those who enjoy the flood of activity across all social networks. Many may get exactly what they want but there is a tidal wave of opinion forming that is taking us back to the beginning – a more ‘touchy feely’ approach if you like.

By all means get in there to engage and chat but please don’t play the 140 game only. It really is good to talk.

NOTE: The following is an addition from one of the comments on this article. It came from Jo Porritt (@brandguardian), who you find in the Social Marketing Forum here. It’s so incisive and to the point that I felt it had to be added.

make it 140 calls
make it 140 meets
make it 140 plans for actions
make it 140 of us coming together to facilitate the change
make it 140 brave ideas
make it 140 reasons to say yes not no

140 is all good, dont just leave it at the characters though
nuff said, Chris my friend

…now is the time!

What are your thoughts?

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