Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

How to Get Over Social Media Fears

Valeria Maltoni has a nice little post today on helping people get started with social media, focusing on the irrational fear – primarily apprehension about the complexity.

Part of the challenge with social media is that it provides a new place to receive messages, when one may already be overwhelmed by one’s current load. I was talking with a friend today, encouraging a richer approach to social media as a way of staying connected on a number of channels to a wider range of prospective customers, collaborators and references. His response was to show me his cluttered Outlook Inbox, and his concern about adding more messages to his already overwrought attention.

Clearly attention is the key issue: how to focus, prioritize and act on a wide range of message-delivered stimuli. Within his Inbox were impersonal messages to mailing lists to which he was subscribed, as well as jokes from friends. The cycle time and attention required for many messages should not have the same priority as other more time-critical messages.

It seems to me that tuning into social media channels is not about further dividing one’s attention, but doing a better job at parsing and prioritizing message, in terms of consumption and response: how quickly do you need to know about items, and how quickly do you need to respond?

My experience is that social media does not replace email, which is generally a slower communication cycle time, and more likely to replace phone conversations, or newspaper/radio/TV news.

Back to Valeria: she talked about an IT person who wanted to introduce social media into his company, and found a useful path forward.

He went to the service people, who are used to one on one conversations, and got them familiarized with the tools. Once they started getting oriented in social networks, they did what they do best — help customers with questions and issues, reaching out to them proactively, and making friends. Then they started talking to the rest of the organization about what they did, and how they did it.

I suspect that the service people at this company replaced telephone time with social media time, which has the advantage of allowing more people to benefit from the exchange than just the one customer, and even allows people to prioritize and sequence activities better.

via Conversation Agent: How to get Over Your Fears of Social Media.


Written by tstaley

September 17, 2010 at 9:14 am

Posted in Social Web

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