How Deep Is Social Media Love?

Today's post is by Rob Jones, blogger and social media marketer at BuildDirect.  In reaction to author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell's assertion that social networks are 'a mile-wide, but an inch deep', and ultimately disposable, Rob's post is about the robust nature of social media, if the approach is right ...

Respected author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell recently stated to a Vancouver  audience that social media is not a platform for social change, nor is it a revolutionary means of generating lasting networks. This is because, according to him, social networks are easy to build and therefore easy to dismantle, too.  To punctuate his statements, Gladwell asserted that just because one has 3000 friends on Facebook, it doesn't mean that one has 3000 friends.

This last point is curious.  I mean, of course 3000 Facebook friends don't equal 3000 actual friends.   Maybe it was just meant to be a punchline for his speech.  But, I think  that the act of making a statement like that as some kind of revelation to an audience points to a flaw in thinking about what social networks and social media as a tool actually are.

The fact is social networks are not easy to build, if they're done right.  I think that there are ways and means to build up numbers, without too much effort.  Auto-follows, auto DMS, follow-churning, impersonally tweeting RSS feeds, and plain old following/friending everyone in sight just for the sake of it, are all (unfortunately) common practices.  But, that's where Gladwell and I agree; numbers do not equal connections. It takes time to foster connections.  It takes honesty.  It takes work.

Here's another place where Gladwell and I agree; solid, hard-won trust is where it's at.  But, his dismissal of social media to me on this score is extremely perplexing.  Because it is solid, hard-won connections that the savvy social media enthusiast, marketer, proponent, whatever, is after, and what so many actually achieve.  Just as traditional networking is a long-view strategy, so is social media networking and networks.

The means of making connections,whether via Twitter or by Rolodex , is entirely secondary if the intent isn't right. The communication abilities, intentions, goals are still down to those people who hold them.  It's still down to one person talking to another, expecting some kind of interaction on equal ground.  Without that, it doesn't matter which means that person chooses to attempt to build up a network.  It will fail, whether you're a President, or a mommy blogger.

To the person who's in it for the long-term, looking to create dialogue as opposed to bolstering an ego, or broadcasting a controlled, non-interactive and impersonal message, then this is the key to a robust network.  I believe that's the kind of network that will have the deep roots that Gladwell is talking about.  And when it is coming from a place of honesty and authenticity, and from someone who intentionally offers useful content and cooperation, any hint of anonymity is banished.

And that's when "friends" can become friends - or at least allies working toward the common good in business, politics, quality of life, and all-around success however that is determined by the people involved.

Read more about Malcolm Gladwell's 'Devil's Advocate' position on social media on Kirk LePointe's mediamanager.com.  LePointe of course is a local voice in Vancouver, and on a national scale too when it comes to the relationships between traditional and emerging  media.

For more information right from the source, visit Malcolm Gladwell's blog.

Rob is based in Vancouver, and blogs an awful lot.  You can follow Rob at @BuildDirect, and read the BuildDirect blog, and the BuildDirect Green Blog


Today I Witnessed Grace

Today's post is very somber. You've been warned upfront. However it holds an important message.

This morning I attended a funeral for a very special young man. Chris Friesen was the son of my good friend Randy Friesen, Marketing Director of BCIT. I didn't know Chris, but I feel I do now and I really believe the world is worse off without him.

Chris was 17 years old; an amazingly dedicated, hardworking, disciplined student and athlete. He was the captain of his lacrosse team, leader, friend, brother and son. He had a tremendous amount of passion and was working towards a very clear goal of embracing the college life. He had the most beautiful contagious smile and a good heart. There were over 1500 people in attendance this morning to pay tribute, celebrate his life, and grieve together.

His dad Randy, mom Ingrid and brother Max showed amazing grace throughout the service. There were video montages and his Aunt Cathy (Randy's sister) played beautiful music in tribute. When Randy spoke with Max and Ingrid at his side, he offered their gratitude for the support and love they have experienced this week. Their entire focus has been on celebrating all the good memories and cherishing the time they had with Chris.  It was incredibly moving, emotional and inspirational.

The Friesen family offered this:

"Chris’ amazing energy and passion were combined with his desire to be perfect and when he could not achieve perfection, he would be mad at himself.  The good thing about that is it drove him to always be better.  On March 25th, Chris was not planning to leave us, but rather was mad at himself about a minor incident with the family car.  We don’t know all his thoughts at that moment, but he made a decision he could not reverse.  He was cared for in the loving arms of his Mother and Father followed by the tremendous efforts of the rescue personnel and hospital staff for which we will be eternally thankful.
Chris, we will use your passion to fuel us. 
Chris, we will use your pursuit of perfection to feed us.
Chris, we will never forget you.  Never.
The family urges everyone, but young people especially, to understand that all problems have solutions.  There is never a problem too big.  If you can’t talk to your parents, please talk to your friends, teachers, relatives and God is also there 24-7!  Simply take a moment before any action.  You are all loved.  Chris loved all of you."

No person should ever feel that any problem is too big. Reach out. There is ALWAYS someone to talk to and nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Please talk to your kids and share this message.

You can hear and view the full story at christianfriesen.com

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(This post is a week old because I wanted to give the family an opportunity to read it before I posted it.  The service was last Thursday, April 1, 2010)