Tuesday, September 21, 2010

#LetsBlogOff - Plugged In or Shut Out?

The latest in the #letsblogoff series- 
Do social sites like Facebook connect the world or isolate people?

Since you already have Facebook open on another of your tabs, look me up. 

Wait a minute, you can't. Why? Not on Facebook. So I'm seriously in the minority considering that 500 million people are active users(and according to Facebook, 50% of that are online at least once a day).

Do I have any right commenting on Facebook then, as an obvious hold-out? Sure I do. That's my right as the Head Typist on this blog and most know that I have a comment on just about everything. I'm not going to get in to why I don't have Facebook, other than to say that it has absolutely no appeal to me personally. When I deleted my Myspace page a couple years ago, my personal online social life ended.

Until of course, Twitter came along. (Follow me HERE)

Everyone uses social media for something different from the next user. The marvels of Twitter and linking it with Cupboards has been somewhat a whirlwind of social successes. When I step back and look at the last 16 months(our active Twitter life), I recognize that without it my daily life would be different. There are pros and cons to everything we do in life, and my visual nature wants me to write down a list(so I did). My list has lots of pros(not going to go in to all of them):
  • Social media has allowed me to meet fellow designers and industry professionals from around the world that I may have met otherwise but would rarely have the opportunity to seriously engage in a meaningful exchange
Think about it... In each industry you have trade shows and conventions and the like. What's the average interaction like in that environment? Shake hands, exchange niceties and business cards, try to keep from standing in the middle of the aisle and disrupting the flow of scurrying convention-goers. Sheesh. Those same meetings now go something like this: Connect on Twitter, talk/email/chat on phone about things you might/might not share with strangers(for weeks/months/years), plan to meet at convention but text each other at the airport and embrace like long lost cousins. (You think it's crazy... well maybe it is crazy, but its reality nowadays)

Are the people that I have connected with on social media my friends? I certainly think so, and if someone close by tweeted me and invited me to the ice cream parlor or coffee shop for a visit, I doubt it'd be a hesitation. 
  • Social media has reinvented customer service policies. 
The next time you're on Twitter, do some fun searches... like "customer service fail" or "bad service" and marvel at what comes up. If you haven't, you'll be shocked at how honest(fairly or otherwise) that people are. Businesses have to do better or risk the barrage of not just negative comments, but nasty ones. Gone are the days of quietly mentioning to the manager that there was a fly in your soup.

There are only a few cons that I could come up with as far as my social media use goes... I get less time to look at ebay, the world knows I eat WAY too much ice cream and until the rest of rural South businesses catch up I am occasionally told that I'm just "wasting time."

The cons aren't so bad... I spend less money when I'm not on ebay, I like ice cream and I've rarely given a whole lot of credence to negative people.

The big question is whether or not the social media in my life inhibits my personal life and interaction. I can confidently say that it has done the polar opposite. We have a small business in a small town. As much as I would love to say that Cupboards has the same amount of foot traffic as Wal-Mart, it doesn't. There are some days that I just don't see a whole lot of people, and after having your head stuck in a series of folders for a few hours it's nice to be able to take a few minutes and laugh at a blog post or chat with a friend on Twitter(or Facebook, if that's your deal).

Am I interested in every time someone has a snack or runs to the bathroom? No, and I try to leave those same details out of the Cupboards twitter stream. The balance between a business social media presence and a personal one is a careful dance though, and I believe that without some personal touches even the biggest most corporate social media accounts get stale. Therefore, my tweeps(twitter followers) occasionally get the dose of football-cheering, motorcycle-riding, sunrise-enjoying, dog-walking, recipe-sharing personal stuff that I do on a daily basis.

Exactly 6% of the people in my cell-phone contacts list are folks I follow on Twitter. If social media inhibits personal interaction, it isn't showing up in the numbers.

Maybe I'm the exception, but without social media my daily interaction with people would take a major hit- not because I ignore those around me in real life, there just aren't that many people around. Social media has been really good to Cupboards, and me personally. It'd be sad to give it up.

Now... I'm gonna go tweet this so my friends can read it!


  1. I don't trust people who never tweet about their dog-walking habits :-)

    Twitter is the perfect chatting back and forth thing. I like your trade show description. With twitter, meetings at the actual show get set up beforehand and there is less anxiety about making the sale.. the in-person interaction is much more relaxed. Good stuff.

  2. Nick, you've given me a whole new outlook....and, I'm wishing I could express it on my blog without looking lame, but have decided that an update to the update post is necessary. You are 100% correct that Twitter allows our days to be livlier...allows that little break that we all know we need. There have been days that I'm struggling big time on my end and someone sends me some off the wall funny and the day just absolutely turns around. Great outlook and great lesson for me.

    P.S. I love the comic strips!

  3. Hey, you said Twitter allowed you to meet other people in your profession. But you left out your twerps (okay, tweeps to you) who are NOT in your industry. But wouldn't that make me even more special because I am a future customer! Since I feel I know you, don't you think I'll contact you first when I need to remodel my kitchen? But those cupboards had better be full of lavender ice cream!

  4. Indeed! How great it was to walk the show floor with another kitchen designer (Nick!) & trade questions & case studies about what we do every day. As a largely singular business owner (me), it was thoroughly refreshing. & I can say without a doubt that it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for twitter.

  5. Nick,

    This is an excellent commentary. I totally agree with all you've said here. My own experience with Twitter is that it opens doors for me to many folks that I want to be connected with, and whom I otherwise would probably have no chance to meet (both tweeps and "twerps", as Alexandra points out! :-)

    So I would say that certain social networking media, like Twitter, opens doors, and certainly doesn't isolate folks. Not at all. It's a new dimension, not a detriment, to human social interaction, one that detractors are sadly missing out on.

    And regarding Facebook -- sure, I'm on Facebook, too. But I find that unlike Twitter, most of my Facebook friends are people I already knew, pre-Facebook. I'm there because most of my friends are there, but I find Facebook kind of staid and stogy, quite frankly.


  6. I have a feeling there are a few of us - exceptions to the supposed rule, that is - as I find myself in the same boat. I'm a bit isolated here in Laredo, TX with few people in my age bracket, social circles, etc that have an interest in meaningful conversation, writing, design, similar films, or even reading for that matter.

    In recent conversations, more than a handful of people have told me they've read a total of less than 4 books on their own time. Four!! Ridiculous, right? I mean, for sweet baby Jesus Christ's sake, I was just talking to my little sister on the phone - a 7th grader, mind you - and we discussed the novels we've been perusing and looking forward to as well as favorite authors. If I have more in common with a twelve year old than I do with my own neighbors, I'd say my connections via social media are considerably more valuable to me, intellectually, than a good deal of the more local ones. Don't even get me started on the lack of art galleries or decent architecture around here.

    To borrow your words and add a few of my own: "there just aren't that many people around" to have a worthwhile conversation with.

  7. Nick, you hit it perfectly, that is why we love twitter. FB is another thing altogether, far less open. well said. and yes, I want to post but frankly the day is getting away from me... might just be a learning day rather than a contributing. Cindy @urbanverse

  8. Thanks for all the GREAT comments guys!

    Rufus- dog-walking part was just for you... and Dolly/Quincy, of course.

    Amy- My favorite part of these #letsblogoff posts is the learning I do from everyone else. Very rewarding!

    Alexandra- I would be lost without all of my twerps! And yes, my cupboards are full of ice cream... well, the ingredients to make ice cream at least.

    Becky- We are proof of the fun!

    John- Thanks for the input. It's nice when people agree!

    Cham- Laredo has to be bigger than where I'm at! But you're right, it's awfully cool to be able to cherry-pick those that you want to be close to.

    Cindy- Glad you agree and I DID miss your post today! I'll be looking for you next time.

  9. saving the best for last:) Great post and could not agree more. And, who does not need more friends anyway?? And, I have used my twitterverse many times to get really good, solid and QUICK info to questions...and that, my friend, is really kind of cool!

  10. I might be a day late and I don't have much to add. . . at times for me I will say I get a little addicted to it(the twitter) or . . . abandon the balance you speak of . . . doing more personal less professional (who am I kidding!) - the personal side is absolutely important as you mention -- and I was thinking just today how my pupils must dilate when friendly faces like yourself pop into the stream. it is a great break in the day, you know, that snickers bar when you are sitting at a desk all day long staring at the same old crap. g'day Nick

  11. I hear ya, Nick. I'm not on Facebook either (connecting with people through that feels weird to me) but Twitter feels different - geography be damned! Great post. ; )

  12. "I believe that without some personal touches even the biggest most corporate social media accounts get stale." --- I ABSOLUTELY and 100% agree with this! I have tried to convince many businesses of this fact, and have used many examples of businesses doing an EXCELLENT job of adding a personal touch by doing so, like you're doing.

    I am amazed at how my retail choices are swayed by who I've been interacting with on Twitter. It really makes a difference, and the more that they interact back with me, ESPECIALLY on a personal level, the more loyalty and love I feel for their business.

    So if I ever need new Cupboards, I guess I'll be driving to Sylacauga. :)

    Great post, and great points. I totally agree that my Social Media life has GREATLY enhanced my IRL Social life. In fact, it helps me make IRL friends quicker. When we meet a new couple at Church or somewhere else, I facebook friend them and point them to my blog, and they immediately feel like they know me, which greatly speeds up the process of becoming friends. It's efficient!!


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