Social media has one fundamental reason for becoming the online success platform that it has become. Trust.
When someone initiates a relationship through LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, they are accepting that person into a small, known trusted group.
If you send me a message via LinkedIn or Facebook, I will read it.
When you send me an email .. if it gets past the spam filter .. if it has an interesting subject line .. if I think the sender isn’t selling me something, I might get around to reading it.
Did I mention I always read the messages delivered via LinkedIn, Twitter Direct Message and Facebook?
Why is this?
Because we trust the people accepted into our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn groups. Not that we know all these people. But we have full control of who belongs in this group and we can remove them if this trust is abused. The sender is accountable to the messages sent. Not so with email.
In their article Dive into Social Media Now (http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/may2009/ca20090512_532970.htm), BusinessWeek’s G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón (http://www.businessweek.com/bios/G._Michael_Maddock.htm) suggest that one reason to participate in social media is based on the question “Are we getting what we want out of the conversation?” I would alter this question to “Are we having a conversation that I want?” If not or if you are social media spamming me, I can block future conversations. Can’t do this in email.
This approach is a transition. It requires shifting your priorities to include a new way of connecting with people. We all fight through the fire hose effect; too many disruptions bombarding us throughout the day. We protect our focus on the important tasks as marketers are trying to gain our limited mindshare.
Recently the CEO of a very large corporation approached me after I finished my presentation and challenged me on the idea that everyone needs to determine how to participate in social media solutions. His point was solid – how can he expect his organization to find the time visit Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn when they are already overwhelmed with the email message in their inbox?
My suggestion was to determine how much opportunity existed in these new communication channels and shift priorities accordingly. I suspect their organization will find that the transition to these tools are a requirement, given that some of their sales reps have already closed some very large deals through social media. If your customers are spending time on these platforms, so are your competitors. Can you afford NOT to be on these new tools?
So what’s the “For Now” part? Well if these tools start cannot protect the integrity created through the trust factor, they will lose their value. Just recently both Twitter and Facebook suffered some serious viruses that diminished the ability to confirm the sender. If in the future I cannot rely on the security and trust established by these tools, they quickly lose value. The value created by establishing a trusted source is huge. Lose this trust and social media will quickly become the ‘fad’ of 2009.
So for now, Social Media is the great connector. Lose the trust and the connection deteriorates.
~ Bonn Appetite