Denmark-based super communicator Allan Jenkins‘ comment on my post below, “Speaks, Tweets, and Leaves” brings clarity to the exploding phenomena of Facebook and Twitter. It’s all about connections.
Facebook now has more than 200 million active users. More 100 million users log onto Facebook every day. Twitter now has 17 million monthly visitors, up from just over 1 million a year ago. The power of these connections and the sense of belonging they provide is being noticed by many, including traditional media types like Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz. Kurtz said today, “old-style news outlets would kill for that sense of belonging.”
Allan Jenkins explains it this way: “Living on an isolated island, which I adore, I rarely see other communicators. Several times a month, when I am up in Copenhagen, but I am not going to an office of communicators…so my ‘office,’ if you will, of communication colleagues, is Twitter (and, for those communicators whom I know well, FB). Many are not IABC members, either, so I get outside that echo chamber. Most of their tweets are links to articles, white papers, discussions. Yes, some of the posts are trivial, but so is a lot of water cooler conversation… it builds the network. I couldn’t live, professionally, without it.”
Hearing Allan’s feelings of isolation really resonated with me. I, too, feel isolated. Between semesters at Towson, I am in Virginia working out of my home office. Facebook, and as I learn to use it more effectively, Twitter, help me connect with people I can’t be with in person. My valued friends and colleagues reside the world over, making social media connections all the more necessary and valuable.
As I blogged about before, one of my goals for attending IABC’s World Conference in San Francisco last week was to enjoy face-to-face communication with many friends and colleagues. One was Allan, whom I have gotten to know better via social media. As Allan says about his conference experience, “This is my chance to talk with friends and colleagues — but I don’t forget that social media has made them colleagues and, often, better friends.”
This is true for me as well. Sure, it may be a trifle banal to hear what someone ate for lunch, but there is a simple joy in the sharing. For example, one of my former students, now a successful PR agency account rep, tweeted today that she felt really bad. I was able to send a quick direct message to her via TweetDeck, to which she quickly responded. It was all short and sweet, but a satisfying connection nonetheless.
Another example concerns my friend communication consultant Sue Horner from Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Sue and I became friends via social media, first blogging, then Facebook. But we did not actually meet F2F until last week in San Francisco. We went for coffee and had a delightful conversation. I felt like I had known her for a lifetime.
As with Allan and Sue, distant connections are maintained effectively via social media. Then, when we do meet F2F, it seems as if we are in a continuum of friendship that is not affected by time and space. I find that quite satisfying.