Social Media makes it amazingly practical to form new relationships anywhere in the world. They make it convenient to communicate globally, instantly, virtually for free. This is truly revolutionary!
Some, like Malcolm Gladwell, writing in The New Yorker, have belittled the importance of social media in the recent revolutions in the Middle East:
People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along…People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.
I agree that both the why and the how are important. However, I believe that social media served as an important catalyst for the synergy that empowered the protesters to act collectively, as well as the logistical advantage of an efficient communication network.
Marshall McLuhan is famous for saying, “The medium is the message.” Mark Federman, Former Chief Strategist for the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, explained in an essay that McLuhan tells us that a “message” is, “the change of scale or pace or pattern” that a new invention or innovation “introduces into human affairs.”
John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, addressed this issue in an American Express Open Forum article:
The most powerful weapon of oppression is not a gun; it’s the control of misinformation. Social networks have loosened the control of information in a way that is at least potentially more democratic and that’s a powerful thing.
Community around shared ideas We’ve always had community and networks, but they were built more on shared geography and class as opposed to globally shared ideas. Social networks and socially enabled behavior allow us to build community based on shared ideas and the power to connect with people in this manner is neither shallow nor fragile…
These tools allow people to find and make connections with people and causes that can ultimately grow deeper and richer than those drawn only from, say, a set of school district boundaries.
I heartily agree that the vastly increased pool of potential friends made accessible by social media allows us to sort and find relationships that are a better fit than we could find from a much smaller set determined by geographical proximity. Now our exciting challenge is to nurture and cultivate deep relationships with “the vital few among the trivial many,” as in “Pareto’s Law.”
Take it Offline – I agree with an article from Rinforsideweb.com called, “10 Social Media Tips For Business: “ Good social media relationships don’t stop online; they take it to the next level. If you come across a potential power partner or some other gold mine – extend the invitation to connect offline – even if that really means Skype.”
Sandra at Lighthouse Virtual Solutions says,
The strategy must be about building relationships with potential customers, and strengthening relationships with existing customers. Do not think of social media as an advertising and promotion vehicle, but rather a relationship builder. How do you build relationships in your personal life? Transfer this “skill set” to your professional social media activity.