Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Social Media weakening your Social Muscles?

It occurred to me recently that the world is getting too reliant on "social" media as an alternative to real life "social" interaction. So I posted a question regarding the effectiveness of each and here are a few of the more interesting responses I received:
Jeffrey L. Wolf • @trialjeffrey  Although online can reach more people, real social inteaction "seals the deal." However, online networking followed by a personal phone conversation is my favorite for combining the two. Networking, like friendship, needs interaction or it goes stale.
 Marvin Glassman • Glassman Public Relations I like networking at events, but I reach people more online. Ideally, the fist interaction are done at events and then followups can be done online. Having the first live meeting with someone that can be a potential client is crucial for growth in my business.
This led me to a second question. I am big on the concept of "touches in a day" If we were to gauge the power of a touch ranging from posting on here, joining an online conversation, sending an email/direct message, making a phone call and finally in person interaction I woundered what the equivalent touches would be.

To get my answer i contacted two of the Major Players in Legal Marketing. Here is what they had to say:

Tom Matte • @TomEMatte If I had to break it down in percentages I would say that 50% is online and 50% face to face. For me personally the value of most events has gone up considerably because of social media. I usually know many of the attendess through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog. I spend less time introducing myself. After an event it is also much easier to stay in touch with new contacts. Although, I would never want to be in a positon to have to choose which is "better" if used together I have found they are exponentially more powerful. 
 Mike O'Horo • @salescoach Marketing communication is about the right combination of impact, reach and frequency -- within the confines of finite money and time to devote to it. 
I would rank the channels in descending order of impact:
1:1 in person
1:1 Face-to-face, real-time virtual via electronic channel
1:1 telephone conversation
1:1 email
1:many public speaking
1:many live webinar
1:many live interview
0:many recorded interview, webinar archive, video
0:many editorial placement or mention
0:many article, ebook, blog post, online comment, newsletter
0:many holiday card

There's an inverse relationship between impact and available frequency. Reach seems independent of this ranking or inverse relationship. Who knows what will strike a chord and get forwarded all over the world?

And then Justin Miller of Law Biz Help came up with the most interesting question of all. "Does the virtual world of networking impact one's ability (think skill set) to network face-to-face?":

Justin Miller •  Interestingly, I was just having a conversation about this very topic over a breakfast networking event. The young lady (upper 20's) across the table said she preferred an 80/20 mix - 80% of her time was spent networking "at her computer" vs. 20% face-to-face. She explained that her professional network was primarily online and she preferred to go where they were. Preferring to channel-select base on her demographic. Seems to make sense.
But the kicker was her in-person skills were a bit awkward. I overheard several follow-up conversations at the end of the breakfast about how strange she was in one-on-one conversations. 
Tina Gregory • @BPMTina  Intriguing that I think about it, as with anything else, if one does not practice a skill, as you mention, face-to-face, human contact, it would make sense that it would deteriorate. Face-to-face networking, introductions and contact have a much higher "exposure risk" than virtual; one has to make eye contact, speak intelligently (i.e. with no "please excuse spelling/grammar mistakes I am using my iPhone" disclaimers) and most importantly, actively listen. That latter skill is one that was in short supply before the promise of social and virtual networking. I find both virtual and in-person networking very rewarding personally and professionally, but I think you raise an excellent point here, Justin - effective networking probably requires both.

Is Social Media weakening our ability to interact in the real world? Do you choose between Social Media vs Social Interaction because one is more effective or because one is more comfortable for you? Where do you spend the majority of your time and why?