This questions is beginning to haunt me. I have only been active in social media for a few months. Yet I find myself reacting to old-school networking tactics. They just seem so obsolete now. Am I the only one?
When you have been active in social media for a couple of months it becomes easy to identify the newbies and the gifted communicators.
Is this the reason why I now find myself questioning other communication methods?
Or is this the reality of this new customer-centric environment we are in?
In order to make social media work for your business, you need to move conversations to real connections.
In international marketing, this often means phone calls for me. Face to face meetings do not happen often. So since Christmas, I have drastically increased the number of networking phone calls I make every week.
This is simply to correspond with the amount of social media networking I am doing.
Old-School Communication Versus New
My questions started last week, after one of my routine networking calls. I was struck by the “old-school” tactics my caller was using.
One of the obvious tell-tale signs was when this person asked if they could put my email address on their newsletter distribution list.
I remember hearing this as a suggested tactic to build newsletter lists several years ago. This was before:
- The spam laws came out, wasn’t it?
- Information overload became an issue for everyone
- The popularity of RSS and Google Reader
It seems like everyone now uses Google Reader. And just like I fought using Twitter for a very long time, I also fought adopting Google Reader up until very recently. So the old school networking tactics should not stand out like a sore thumb to me. But they do.
This caller was obviously highly skilled in these old marketing and networking tactics.
We have so many things in common that we really should have hit it off much more than we actually did. The problem was that with these old school tactics, this communication lacked authenticity.
But is it my fault? Has my own social media communication mind set overtaken all of my own communication expectations? Or…
Has Communication Changed?
This got me wondering just how much social media has changed my networking tactics. The old communication style just seemed to clash too much with the new one.
Last week I also had two great phone calls with people who are social media savvy. And in reality the generation gaps and different backgrounds would normally have limited the power of our connection.
But our phone conversations were extensions of our Twitter conversations. The connection was authentic right from the start and continued to be authentic through the transition to the live phone calls. These two phone connections proved to valuable resources for my business.
- Do social media communication skills also help you when networking over the phone?
- Or is it just the continuation of the initial authentic conversation?
- Is networking catching up with our customer-centric world?
International Connections On Social Media
Earlier today I caught a thread of a conversation on Twitter, where someone thought social media will improve cross-cultural communication. Now, I am looking forward to taking this conversation live, but time differences have not yet made that possible.
It is an interesting thought. In some cases, I do think social media tears down cross-cultural communication barriers. But there are still some cultural combinations that are mined with difficulty.
A common problem I have involves people from cultures with high context and low individualism scores on the Geert Hofstede cultural behavioral scales.
This usually involves a “hello” and no direct communication. There is never enough information for me to work on. I feel their sincerity in starting a conversation, but the conversation seems to be one-sided. One-sided from my end, even though they were the ones that initiated the contact.
It is very difficult to create an authentic conversation online with these cultural differences.
There is one overriding factor. Social media federates people. So if two people from very different cultures have acquired social media communication skills you would think that this would topple quite a few barriers.
Different Ways Of Using Social Media
There is one question you have to answer first.
- How do other cultures use social media?
It is easy to assume that social media communication skills are the same in different countries. But they cannot be. People use social media differently in different countries. They have different expectations. People approach social media with different mind sets.
Every time I put my nose into the French social media scene I am amazed at how different the climate is. And I must say that I rapidly close the door.
It is not a place I like to linger.
Social media is much, much nicer in English.
I guess the differences in atmospheres relate back to how North Americans smile much more than French people. And how smiles are not accepted on the same level here in France as they are in North America.
Opportunities To Connect
Apparently there are huge populations of social media users in the East. But would you find these social media scenes nice or would you want to rapidly shut the door? Or would two people be having conversations in parallel without connecting?
This brings us back to the question of whether social media improves cross-cultural communication and international networking.
If you have any thoughts or experience of social media in other cultures, please do take a moment to leave a comment and share them below.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: social media for business
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