When Social Media Turns Unsocial—And What We Can Do

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Is the term ‘Social Media’ the ultimate oxymoron? Have we become victims of Orwellian doublespeak by delving into the depths of social media addiction, in doing so becoming ironic social hermits, all hidden away behind iPads and Smartphones with no interest in the outside reality.

I am reminded of the scene in Ocean’s Eleven where Basher (played by Don Cheadle) is watching the demolition of a building on TV oblivious to the fact it’s taking place in the real world right outside his window.

Online I have been guilty of the same crime; I have found myself admiring pictures of landscapes and other equally beautiful images, whilst the amazing views right on my doorstep go unnoticed…and I live on the coast in Devon! Maybe they don’t look as good without an Instagram filter to enhance them??!!

Social media has permeated every facet of our lives. No one just enjoys a concert any more, they have to film it. Likewise no one eats a meal without instagramming it first. It seems we can’t even make a decision without tweeting about it.

But still I love social media, and as a result I have lately found myself pondering these things through the lense of office life.

Allow me to explain:

I am the Head of Marketing & BD for Flint Hosts, and we provide Managed Cloud Hosting for businesses of all sizes. I have been in this role for around 26 months, having come from a background in Business Conferences…and you could not find two more diverse products.

I can hear your collective yawns from here, so I’ll cut a long story short: In making the transition between the two roles, I found that, while a show can be introduced and sold very quickly, hosting goes to the heart of a businesses infrastructure and so decisions are (rightly so) made a lot more cautiously.

This means that, from a marketing perspective, you need to let people know that you’re there when they’re looking for hosting. So social media has become an integral part of our marketing strategy. You may well be reading this article simply because you saw it via social media.

And isn’t the world of social media a wonderful place to be. On Facebook I’m a James Bond like character. I’m debonaire, I’m witty, attractive, popular (I have so many friends). I’m windswept, interesting, father of the year and husband of the millennium.

On LinkedIn though I’m all business. The consummate professional with business connections that span the globe. Still witty and popular, but kept within the confines of appropriate business behaviour.

No one cares who I am on Twitter, as long as I’ve followed them back!

And social media has been important for our Branding. People know about Flint Hosts because we have spent time getting our name out there and building up a following.

But here’s the killer question: when it comes to business, do you buy from social media, or do you buy from real people.

For social media to be its most effective, it needs to be a bridge. It brings people to you but you need to be waiting on the other side to greet them in person. There will never be a social media substitute for palm to palm and face to face.

Social media is also a black hole. You can find yourself more and more immersed in a virtual world until it seems the real you has vanished. The TV show Red Dwarf has an episode called ‘Better Than Life’. In the episode the team become ensnared in a game called Better Than Life (BTL). In the game every desire is fulfilled. You are completely immersed in abject bliss. But in the real world you’re wasting away. A zombie-like wraith unable to feed or clothe yourself.

We need to unplug every now and then and connect with the real world. Pick up the phone and talk to clients, or even (and now we’re getting scary) make some cold calls!

Let’s not allow social media to make us anti-social. It’s important for business, but, as they say. It should form part of a balanced diet.

I wonder how many likes this will get…?

Social Media Week

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