Building Technology or Building Communities? We should choose!

Over a year ago, I started working with a client on their Social Media strategy and implementation. While in the first training session, the statement was made, “Every major company/organization should have a Facebook Page, it is today’s website.” This statement has been making me think lately…especially while watching the noise level increase across the social media networks.

I jumped into the Social Media space to learn, connect, and build a community around ideas…specifically to find like minded individuals. I believe there are some communities still there especially with arena’s like #blogchat started by Mack Collier (@MackCollier). But technology is becoming the focus; create a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, YouTube Channel and use it for a “Push” mentality.

What do I mean by the “Push” mentality? Basically, one directional communication with a mass or targeted audience. I push my information to you without much social reciprocation.

It has given many businesses, entities, individuals a platform for thought leadership positioning themselves to push, push, push. Join me here, follow me there, agree with my thoughts, join my group…more technology, more groups, more thought leadership fighting for a smaller space of audiences.

It is my humble opinion that Twitter has created a discourse community that has converted how we use and access information in the social space…”Follow.” This positions everyone to be a leader, these leaders engaging in push mentality. One-directional informational flow that does not engage a communal mentality.  Now, I understand that this mentality has a tremendous impact in many advertising campaigns, but how many people want to have information always pushed on them…all the time. Less listening and more pushing. Just build another piece of media technology to push more information.

I do think we are seeing a paradigm shift especially with Facebook…the ability to increase privacy settings. Not just to protect ourselves from people looking at our information, but to filter out the push mentality. How many of you have taken the time to hide your status updates from friends/family and even hidden those who are pushing too much information on you? I know I have, hiding status updates so they do not come across my news feed. This is an effective way to hide people’s push mentality without letting them know we do like their updates. Easy way to save face and save space.

Facebook Pages are becoming yesterday’s website, post the information and hope they will come. Is it really necessary to have a website or Facebook Page to push your information, especially if you are not building the community effect that engages a conversation.

I guess it is ok if your whole goal is to build up SEO, but if that search does not lead to a conversation…what is the point? Just more noise in the world of the digital, social space. Another piece of technology and no community. Sometimes we have to step back and say, who do we want to connect with out there and how can we do this? Is it necessary to use a technology to connect if it is more purposeful to just go meet the person face-to-face.

I had a former student ask me, “I want to intern at one of the local (Greenville, SC) ad firms…do you know anyone at these groups?” I asked him which group is he interested…then he listed one or two. I asked him if he had contacted them and he responded saying he sent an email and received no response. He asked,”  what should I do next?” Hmm…it is more than just sending one email. It is more than just one chance with one piece of digital technology to illicit a conversation. It is more than just pushing ourselves on others. How about stepping away from what is comfortable, get away from behind the keyboard and find new ways to build a conversation and a community. To my former student, try calling and setting up an appointment, or offer to take someone out to lunch or even coffee. Then have a conversation.