Communities have been the watch word of the new media revolution, but what does that really mean? it means we are returning to relationships. Everyone thinks it’s a revolution, when in reality it’s a return to old-fashioned values. Relationships and values in the sense of the baker, the butcher and general store owners down on Main Street. People want to know their vendors, they want to interact with them, and most importantly, they want to be heard! Instead, the small town feel is now a global phenomenon – creating millions of global micro-communities.
It is true that we are looking to the businesses we interact with to be more .. interactive. We, as consumers want to be able to reach out to these companies with our complaints and our compliments. The irony of technology bringing us together and forging old-fashioned relationships is not lost on this author. What also is not lost is the importance of these relationships. In the social media world, we are coming more and more to understand that without the quality of relationships, we are floundering. It is our responsibility as practitioners of this art to find ethical, realistic, authentic ways to build those relationships. To find ways to help our clients build those relationships. To show them the importance of open, honest, transparent communication that are the bricks and mortar in the foundations of those relationships.
Tonight I asked posed a question to my followers on Twitter – “Everyone who values the conversations & relationships they have developed on Twitter more than the numbers Please Raise Your Hands!” The response has been overwhelming! Followers far and wide “threw up their hands” in support of the importance of conversations and relationships over the value of the number of followers. I followed up asking these respondents what the biggest benefit they have found from being on Twitter. Some of the responses include –
The common thread is quite evidently the conversations and the relationships that develop from those conversations. Whether we are using the tools, like Twitter, for business or personal reasons the importance of the relationships is prevalent. People want connections. We want to return to the feelings of chatting on the porch with our neighbors. Shopping at the corner store. The feeling of knowing that when we reach out someone will be there. It is a magical time that technology and social media have allowed us, as people, consumers and businesses to make those connections. What now becomes important is that we do the work necessary to maintain them. Just as any good relationship between two people requires work and give and take on both sides, so do these relationships we develop online. They require that we engage one another. That sometimes we be the givers and sometimes we be the takers. That we truly listen and answer more than we talk or broadcast. It requires us to make a commitment of time and energy. And it requires that we, as social media practitioners be prepared to assist our clients with not only seeing this reality, but learning to live it. As I tell my clients (and everyone else) social media is not something you Do, it is something you Live. Quite simply, you do not “do” relationships and conversations, you “live” them. So my challenge to all of you is go Live it. Let your actions speak louder than the words you type. Let your interactions and the relationships that develop from them be the model for your clients and friends to emulate. Go start the conversations. Return to the relationships.