Last Friday’s New York Time article by Clive Thompson titled Brave New World of Digital Intimacy should be required reading for anyone using or planning on using social media for Internet marketing or online PR.
So often people misuse Facebook and Twitter and other social media tools because they fundamentally do not understand how they work. They may understand the technology but they don’t stop to examine how people use them, why they use them, and why these tools hold such great appeal.
Thompson’s article nails the appeal and it comes in the form of the central feature around which these tools revolve: The News Feed.
The News Feed is the status update you get on Facebook that tells you everything your friends are doing and Twitter is essentially the same thing in microblog form.
Thompson gets to the meat of the matter:
Social scientists have a name for this sort
of incessant online contact. They call it â€œambient awareness.â€ It is,
they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up
on his mood through the little things he does â€” body language, sighs,
stray comments â€” out of the corner of your eye.
It is that ambient awareness that is so appealing. While individual updates telling you a friend is cleaning the house or listening to a song by The Ting Tings are the very definition of the mundane, it is these updates in the aggregate that compile an intimate picture of your friend’s life.
Anyone who follows my Facebook feed or Twitter account will quickly learn that I love playing football, and am a devoted fan of the Vikings and the Twins; they’ll learn my political leanings, what I do for a living and where my expertise lies.
So people learn bits and pieces about me and I learn about them and we may chat a bit and a connection is made, a relationship develops, and a foundation of trust is laid. They listen to me and I to them and if I tell them of a client’s new product or service because it’s probably relevant to them in some way and they trust the messenger.
But it does not work if the sole purpose of you using these tools is to promote. It does not work if you’re not genuine. It doesn’t work if you’re not a human being.
These tools work because we’re social animals and want to connect with others on a personal level. Back in July, Ed Kohler offered the wonderfully simple advice for online marketing: Be human.
[…] windows into people’s lives. We are driven by a need to connect with others. Be willing to show some personality. Be open to sharing personal information. Be open to talking about things unrelated to the brand. […]