Social Media or Face-to-Face Communication?
A warm handshake, engaging conversation and getting to know customers and prospects on an individual level can play an important role in forming stronger, more meaningful and profitable business relationships.
We all seem to live and breathe social media. Take that away for just two days, and we’re likely to suffer some serious withdrawal symptoms – ok, so perhaps that’s an exaggeration. If you were to meet someone on the street and asked for his contact information, the likely response would probably be: Are you on Facebook? Are you on LinkedIn? And don’t be surprised if you get directed to some other social networking site that you’ve never even heard of. That’s right, technology is evolving by the minute as we speak!
This is all well and good but we have to ask – in today’s tech-savvy world, are we losing our sense of human voice and touch? Is social media killing the art of personal communication, and how is it affecting our everyday business?
Face-to-face discussions are the foundation of human communication; once established, it allows us to build trust, clearly articulate our ideas and minimize misunderstanding. However, for many of us, face-to-face communication seems to be a dying art – replaced by text messaging, e-mails, and social media. Human communication and interactions are shaped by available technologies.
Is technology helping or hindering our ability to spread messages? Perhaps, it isn’t doing either. A more plausible answer is that it is essentially transforming traditional methods and revolutionizing the way we communicate with one another. In the communications arena, specifically public relations, media, advertising and marketing, we have to stay relevant, informed, and up-to-date on the newest communication channels and incorporate them into our range of capability offerings.
To build meaningful connections between people, we need to let technology enhance our communication, rather than dictate it. As new communication technological advancements become available, our temptation is also to spend less time on face-to-face interactions at the risk of losing the critical context of our message. Of course, e-mails and social media can dramatically impact the speed and volume of messages, but therein also lies the danger in allowing the subtle aspects of dialogue and personality to fall by the wayside.
Online interactions allow us to manipulate the way others perceive us. The words we type tend to characterize or define us, which in reality, can be very different to that of having an actual conversation with a peer.
Face-to-face communication, on the other hand, has several advantages over other forms of communication. For example, we are better able to control the situation we’re in when speaking to the person in front of you. We’re able to present points one-by-one – and in the process, make sure that each point is clearly communicated and understood before moving on to the next point. This can greatly increase both the speed and accuracy of communication.
Face-to-face communication is also more precise than non-verbal cues. No matter how clear we think we are being, different gestures have different interpretations between different cultures and even between two people of the same culture, which can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding. This direct verbal communication is also an effective way to explain intangible concepts, as problem areas can be readily addressed and explained.
More importantly, face-to-face contact helps to build trust. After all, businesses are built on relationships. As the relationship grows and develops, so does the business. Often, written communication cannot fully capture the true tone and meaning intended by the sender. A punctuation mark wrongly placed can easily change the meaning of a sentence.
Social media has many merits and demerits, but it can never replace face-to-face human interaction.
A savvy marketer or entrepreneur knows that he needs to use social marketing tools as part of a balanced portfolio of communication, and use them in different ways, depending on their benefits and the audience. Meeting people though will remain a vital part of doing business as it provides the opportunity to communicate information directly and articulate sentiments that would not be appropriately captured in an email or a tweet. It is also an effective way to discover common interests and beliefs that will strengthen your working relationship.
This entry was posted on 27 February 2012 by Corporate Media Services. It was filed under Client Management, Crisis Management, Marketing, Media Interviews, Public Relations, Social Media and was tagged with business face, face discussions, profitable business relationships, social networking site.