Social media seems to present the opportunity to stay in better touch with so many more people. Yet is the contact from social media the type that we need to sustain real social interaction?
Back in the seventies when I still wrote letters, it was clearly an effort to compose an interesting letter and go to the trouble to get it in the mail.
Yet it was worthwhile at the time. Long distance phone calls were expensive, and computers for the home did not exist. It was even more fun getting a letter back from someone. The letters represented a great deal of thought.
Today you can connect on Facebook, AIM, GoogleTalk, Twitter, and plenty of other places. Making the contact is easy. The conversations are usually short and often done while multi-tasking. The contact might mean little more than some random electrons have passed in the night.
Today’s social interaction is so easy to initiate electronically that the actual value of the contact may well be very little. There is not a lot of effort involved in responding to many people. You sometimes see this in people who seemed to be compelled to comment on something even if the thought they leave is worthless. They are typically more interested in volume of comments than in quality.
While I am certain that you can build some strong ties with social media, I just have not seen it happen very often. Very few people that I have met online has matured and made it past casual friendship.
The contacts that you make online can be very tenuous unless there is a previous relationship behind them. As someone who uses online advertising a lot, I know well that many of the people who contact you online will never end up doing business with you. It is far too easy for them to slide into the woodwork.
Someone who walks into your office, shakes your hand, and exchanges contact information with you is far more likely to end up a client.
This does not mean we should all give up on social networking. We just need to appreciate it for its ability to be instantaneous and easy.
If it is desirable to move an online relationship to something greater, emails and phone calls are a good place to start. If you really want to surprise someone, send them something in the mail. Being a Realtor®, I often send people packages of maps and local magazines. They rarely forget getting the package.