You Can’t Touch a Tweet!

Posted on April 18, 2008
Filed Under CSO, Musings, Offline social, Strategy | Leave a Comment

Online social interaction requires the real world, but can (or do) social media marketers blend the offline and online together in a useful way?  Rarely. 

My own online social interaction has always had a strong connection to the physical (real) world.  My instant messaging was always with people I had met physically, until it wasn’t.  My email messages were always exchanged with people I had met physically, until (quickly) they weren’t. 

And now, years later, there is a growing churning sea of connection with people I will never meet.  And organizations whose offices or stores I won’t get to visit. Online social has exploded, and offline social can expect to continue to reap the benefits of connections that start online.  Tomorrow I’m attending an event that I learned of through online social networking, because people I had met in the real world were also going.  But, curiously, I met those people because of an event organized via a different online social networking site. 

That type of synergy is perfect, in a way, to illustrate what will hopefully be more than just this short snippet today.  For me, online social works only because it has positively affected my real world.  The same way that I enjoyed going to sites that focused on my interests, such as filmmaking, I now belong to groups with people local to me who want to get together to share those interests.  

But, that’s for a person.  Organizations are different.  They seem to like to aloof, online available via toll-free numbers, email, and occasionally online chat (but only via their chat).  

Should online social campaigns just be virtual?  Having benefited from the friendships that come from online social groups that meet in the real world, and vice versa, I can say “no, bring them into the real world.”  Brands and organizations looking to to use social media may be slow to understand that while everyone won’t be able to connect in the physical world, it can be invaluable to try.  Mostly they should abandon the thought that a social campaign can be all done at arms-keyboard length. 

Recently I spoke with a new media executive from a major league sports team, and this person was specifically interested in making online social work in close connection with offline acitivities & events.  Right on.  It takes more effort and surely can’t be 100 percent automated, but it also will build lasting involvement.  A sports team understand fans, but other businesses are coming around to an understanding of fans, conversations, and participation. 

This is likely part one of a multi-part series, as I have yet to organize the rest of what I’d prepared – a list of positive ideas and bad ideas for getting the offline and online worlds to mix.  I’d write more now but there is an offline event starting shortly… one where I’m looking to meet some people who are at this point only virtual people I’ve found via activities such as Twitter tweets and online message exchanges.

[for now I’m here on twitter]

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