This summer I have been doing a lot of social networking. I am at a research planning offsite with 100 of my colleagues this week, for example. Most of the real ideas and resolutions are happening during breaks. Folks make tea or synch email or pop into the open air, and as one person recognizes another, conversations form. Ideas that had seemed a bit too hard to explain and coordinate suddenly get fleshed out. The edges are explored, fault found, possibilities unimagined on ones own become apparent.
It has been the same all summer. I am staying in a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts while I support sales for a week in this region. Whose house? Well, I have an acquaintance who is an architect who had a job near my house in Connecticut and we got to talking about travel, kids, plans. When I said I’d be up in the Boston area, she tossed me the keys and said that she and her family are away for a bit – take our house.
I could give another half dozen examples of professional and personal contacts I have enriched over the past two months, all accelerated by the amazing addition of the five senses to the social interaction. This is not to say facebook and twitter and chatter and sms and my iPad aren’t wonderful. It is to say that digital social networking is an infinitely (well, not quite infinitely) inferior platform for deeper levels of social interaction.
Do I love getting the link to new pics? Hearing the progress of a sail? Restaurant advice? Client opinion on ways to improve a presentation? Yes, yes, and… yes. Yet your customer strategies still need to find effective ways to capture the interactions that your customers are having in the store, or on your website, or talking to the engineer or mechanic, or to the cable guy/gal. And those customer experiences, none of which are a part of what is thought of as social networking, and which cannot be monitored by social media monitoring, are at the heart of what makes your business a success or failure. It’s like what John Lennon sang on the Double Fantasy album (invoking Allen Saunders) in Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
Don’t get caught out on a social trip when your critical social interactions are not getting captured.