We are all guilty of it; choosing to connect [online] over engaging in actual conversation. Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Linked in connections; we all want more! As our social circles expand within the realms of the digital world, are we in danger of falling by the wayside when it comes to building real, solid relationships; personally and professionally?
The statistics are so staggering (over 900 million Facebook users, billions of tweets per week, and millions of Linked in connections), it often seems much easier, more convenient and inevitably cheaper than ever before to simply ‘go online’. In addition, people are increasingly accessing social media from multiple devices wherever they are; with mobile phones being the most popular. Far from concerning soleley the MR industry, the very nature of this conversation makes this a truly global matter. While it would be unwise and costly to ignore social media, it is arguably more wasteful to ignore the potential and value of establishing solid, face-to-face relationships.
Badoo recently reported that 39% of Americans spend more time socialising online than they do in person; with a further 20% preferring to communicate via text or over the Internet rather than talking face-to-face or on the phone. These figures probably don’t come as a shock to many of us, as so many are guilty of it. But the fact remains that focusing strictly on the digital world can hurt your career, your business and your social skills where they really count; in the real world.
In MR, the value and relevance of face-to-face as a methodology has long been debated. Here at Face Facts we still wholeheartedly believe in it, invest in it and offer it as a service. Indeed, we are pro face-to-face accross the board; The Research Mafia (our sister company) was established solely as a networking and events organisation so that we could encourage the industry to get together more! Working in an industry which is based on the sharing of information, it seems only natural that we should be a sociable bunch. However many of the industry events are undeniably expensive which often makes building relationships difficult unless you are willing to invest monetarily and with time; both finite and precious resources that we are reluctant to relinquish, especially on frequent occasion. But results show it is worth it. With organisations such as the Research Mafia popping up (recognising the need for considerably cheaper ticket values) events are, albeit slowly, becoming an affordable must!
At the moment marketing trends lean heavily towards social media; investing in, building upon and managing these endless platforms. With time and efforts directed away from face-to-face opportunities, we run the risk of forming less meaningful relationships that in the long run aren’t so worthwhile or ultimately as valuable. Building real relationships takes time, it isn’t instant, which is the fundamental appeal of these media platforms. Yes we can connect almost instantaneously with customers and like-minded industry bods; which in itself is of massive value as we join in conversations, receive feedback and interact on the same platform. However the time and money needed to invest in actual face-to-face relationships whilst taking longer, results in the ROI being greater and more fruitful in the long term. It isn’t a case of either or; it is important that we invest in both.
Like food and water, we cannot simply live on one alone. We need long term foundations to be established and reinforced through face-to-face encounters, only then can we fully utilise social media to nourish and maintain these relationships.
Obviously with research professionals and potential clients scattered all over the joint, the digital world makes it easier to maintain constant contact. But perhaps more emphasis should be placed on ensuring that social media management compliments, rather than replaces, the time old tradition of meeting and greeting. The world is a lonely enough place as it is, and the digital revolution allows us to communicate with unprecedented ease, but it is important not to forget the basics. That age old saying; “it’s not what you know but who you know”, is all too true and it’s important that it isn’t forgotten. It is not the case of one or the other; social media vs face-to-face isn’t a decision you should have to make! Instead you need to effectively and efficiently utilise both; in a complimentary fashion, a dynamic duo born to build truly valuable relationships and maximise on that all-important ROI.
Are you a secret texter-preferring a quick text sesh over picking up the phone?
Is there any value left in face-to-face? Or is digital the way forward?
Go on share your thoughts…but will it be via one of our many social media platforms or have you taken heed of our message, in which case why not pop into Face Facts Towers for a cuppa and a nice chat?