The Culture Clash of Social Media. Why some just won’t buy in.

“How many design jobs have you directly generated with your Blog/Twitter/Facebook so far?”

With many of my business peers and contacts following my blog experiment, it’s a popular question these days. The answer is:

None, it isn’t for sales. It’s to build credibility and relationships, while generating and/or solidifying leads.

Sure there may be the odd request for a quote, but this media is about connecting with other people, peers, professionals, and knowing what’s going in my world. I can’t lie, building my business is what I have in mind, but acquiring those new contracts is reached from a different direction and approach.

Direct selling in this medium is viewed as tacky, forward and intrusive. It is a sure fire way to lose readership, followers, and friends very easily. Social Media is anti-sales. It’s about dissemination of information and building business on connections and existing relationships, in essence referral marketing.

I hadn’t realized how large of a mind shift this concept is in business until this week.

The majority of business people out there are Baby Boomer and GenXers. Both of these generations are rooted in the idea of sales and sales generation. Cold calling, advertising, and closing the sale. The GenY idea of texting to connect and giving away information for free without expectation of direct return, is a very foreign concept.

This new culture is very different from generations past. It’s evolved from the ability to access information in seconds on demand and I believe it’s also evolved from the basic human need for connection.

We once knew the teller at the bank and the cashier at the store, our friends lived down the street and we worked in an office with a number of coworkers we knew well. It was personal. Things have changed with the ATM drive through and multinational chains, urban sprawl and remote office access. The computer and web seem to be the common link we all share, so it makes sense that the journey to reconnecting has evolved online.

With every drastic swing of a pendulum, there is a counter swing.

Social media allows a person to have a voice in this large world. I don’t like the service I got with an airline, I Twitt about it so someone else can be warned and maybe I get a faster resolution from the carrier. My son graduated high school with honours and the marketing guy sends me congratulations. I remember that the next time I have a meeting with him to talk business. I find a great resource online and blog about it attaching a link to the site. People view me as a good source to become informed, my credibility goes up as a professional in my field.

It’s a new language, and the learning curve to social media literacy can be quite daunting. But the reality is, it has changed the face of business and how it communicates. For those who’ve asked me the above question, the pause I recieve after I give the answer tells me the business culture still has a way to go before it fully understands this impact.

A Good Article for small businesses: Duct Tape Marketing’s, Hitting the Social Media Sweet Spot

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