social media and reciprocity

>> Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There's a healthy breakfast / lunch chain I have been to a few times and whose food I like. They have a Twitter account that I started following to get the inside scoop on promotions. It seemed like a good trade: I publicly become a fan of the place and read all their tweets, I get a few deals. It did not turn out that way. My chief complaints: they posted the same damn message several times a day (thanks, I saw it the first time) and the deals were not great (usually something like $0.50 off something I would not buy anyway). They had a daily free lunch giveaway for one follower, which kept me around for a few weeks, but I finally decided I'd rather spend $8 than keep reading all those tweets. Unfollowed. I was so annoyed by their spamming that I actually don't even go there for lunch anymore.

Most of us have at least one facebook friend (usually just an acquaintance) who constantly sends invites to events we are not interested in. I'm happy to add just about anyone as a friend, but at some point those excessive invites will cause you to become unfriended. It's so obviously making use of contacts without any real relationship there and it's such a waste of my time.

So now I have some thoughts on the use of social media.

I can see why social media seems like a great deal because it looks like free advertising. And perhaps people are expected to participate simply because there is no 'cost' to participation. But people do value their time and loyalty, and there is no shortage of competition for both. If they don't feel that they are getting something in return, then why would you expect them to participate? This doesn't mean you have to give away free stuff all the time. People value other things, like information or good laugh. And they certainly value relationships. In this sense, social media isn't anything new. And beyond a simple give-and-take relationship, I do believe it's possible to connect with people even through the impersonal internet. Reply and comment functions exist for that reason. People always know when they are being paid attention. If people feel connected in some way (whether you are a band, news outlet, corporation, etc.) they are more likely to stick around. The most successful users have ways of letting their clients / fans / customers actively contribute or participate and feel heard. You aren't going to accomplish that by doing nothing but self-promoting.

Creating value for people will never become unimportant. From my limited understanding of the field, that's just basic economics. And there's no such thing as a free lunch.


Ramk Chardri May 15, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

Why are you still doing your job when you should clearly be working in new media?

I expect a clear and well argued response for the whole world to see.

b June 7, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

Well-argued response:

It's all about the benjamins, baby.

For real, though, I would love to but I am a big chicken (for now).

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