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Social Spackle December 9, 2009

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
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It’s been a social media week for some reason, with many opportunities to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of all this new stuff with lots of folks.  Despite the attention that social media gets, and the adoption of the tools by some demographic groups, there is still a long way to go for some people to start using this stuff.

There’s a common refrain that permeates a lot of these discussions: “It might be useful for others, but I just don’t think it’s for me. Who cares what I’m doing or thinking?” I have a simple answer for that: “I do.”  And lots of other people as well.

The concept of social media is not new.  Years and years ago, social media went by different names.  We used to call it “talking,” or “writing a letter,” or “making a social call.” As technology advanced, it became “sending a telegram” and “making a phone call.” Now we call it “updating my status” or “sending a tweet.” Technology changes, but the goal remains the same.

The point is to keep in touch with people you care about, and for them to keep in touch with you.  These simple interactions with others build a rich fabric that connects you and keeps you close. While some people belittle the trivial information that often gets shared, it is that information, in fact, that makes the whole exercise worthwhile.

In today’s world, we rarely cross paths with people and engage them in person.  When we do, we often spend time catching up: “Where have you been? What have you been doing?” We do it because we care, and the more we know about a person, the more we can connect and share.

Social media lets you share those little bits about yourself all the time.  Interested people can absorb them and keep up with you.  I call this information “social spackle.”  It is the stuff that fills in the cracks in our relationships and keep them strong. When you do finally meet someone, you are already up to speed on their life; you can have a richer and more valuable moment together.

Consider a simple example: an acquaintance tweets as he goes on a trip to visit his daughter and see his grandchildren.  Trivial data, he thinks; who would care about that?  But those who know him are glad to know it, and file it all away.  When we next meet, we have excited questions: How was your trip?  How are those grandkids? That little bit of social spackle strengthened our bond and made for a nicer moment.

Reluctant to try social media?  Don’t do it for you.  Do it for those who care about you.  Find ways to spread some social spackle and see what happens.  You will be surprised at the change in the richness and quality of your relationships, both with people you’ve known and the people you will meet.  What do you have to lose?

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1. Marc Sirkin - December 9, 2009

Still selling folks on trying social media I see… for me that boat has sailed. Anyone who can’t see how valuable social media is both professional and personally isn’t paying attention.

2. Bill Petro - December 9, 2009

My research indicates that people are afraid of the technology, or more to the point, feeling stupid that they don’t understand the technology. Others think it is a “replacement” for other social interaction. I gently suggest that it’s an augmentation. As telegraph -> telephone, and letters -> email, the new technology augments, speeds, and expands reach.

3. Susan Mazza - December 9, 2009

I love the idea of “social spackle”. And I think you point here to the more personal aspect of social media use. Since I use social media platforms like twitter as a business tool primarily this has me thinking about it more for my personal life and also about the constant challenge of integrating the two.

4. Mark Eggleston - December 10, 2009

Well put. Many people I speak with recoil from social media as if it will somehow replace more tradional forms of communication. Much as the phone replaced letter writing a few decades ago. The fact is, that’s only true if they want it to be. I spend a lot of time reminding them that they can still send email, still make phone calls, still write letters, still talk face to face, even send a telegram if they want. This is just another means to connect. Try it. Maybe you’ll like it.

5. Robert Martin - December 17, 2009

“Social Spackle” has a defined place in business. It would be difficult at best to keep up with all of the birthdays of people you know, not including the people you have not connected with in years. I count it a blessing to have social media’s help in reminding me to wish a potential or current client “Happy Birthday!” That “touch” has meaning to business contacts in such a demanding market environment.

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