If you have ever walked, then you must have experienced this awkward moment. You are walking and for some reason you find yourself beside someone you don’t know, walking with the same pace as you. Something happens; you become self conscious, you feel almost obligated to talk to them or do something, anything, just to make it stop. Either of two things then happens, just about at the same time. You decide to pick your pace up and the other person decides to slow down so that you can create some distance or vice versa. This usually goes off smoothly unless it is one of those days and you both speed up or slow down at the same time, extending this awkward moment for a little bit longer. You both want to get away from each other and you both know it. The only other option would be to talk.
The reason this moment is usually so awkward is because you don’t know each other yet you have found yourselves in very close proximities that require some form of action. Like most situations, you always have two options, engage or run. Here, you can engage and talk to the other person as you walk. This completely kills the awkwardness. You can exchange niceties and talk about nothing until the point you have to part ways. Chances are that you will meet again and by that time you will familiar with each other and therefore be more at ease and talk freely. A couple of other meetings will probably see friendships develop…
However, when you choose door number two and decide to run, you will find yourself always running. You may choose to walk slower or faster, whichever of the two creates some distance between the two of you. You may do this so that you can continue walking in serenity because you hate people, or you hate talking to strangers, or you are shy and cannot initiate a conversation, or maybe you just need some piece of mind so you don’t want to talk to anybody. Whatever the case, you do what you have to do to create the distance and then walk alone. It is understandable, sometimes. I avoid conversations with strangers I meet on the road most of the time.
But at the end of the day, it is always a choice between walking away or staying and talking – especially in social media.
As a business that has started using social media, the two options of walk or talk also apply, but the former is to your detriment as a brand. Here is how it works…
When you establish a social media presence as a business, you have an obligation to the community that forms around you. Social Media is the road to be on right now but it makes no sense to walk on this crowded road without talking to anybody. If we have the road in common, it is in your interest to initiate a conversation with me. We cannot walk side by side on this road without talking, otherwise, what the hell are you doing here as a brand? And because it is in your best interest to talk to me, you initiate the conversion. Talk and give me a reason to join in. And in-case I am the one initiating the conversion, it is in your best interest to engage me. Social Media is not the place for people who walk alone. It is not the place for brands that are too self-absorbed to talk with you. It is not the place for brands that feel too important to talk with you and therefore talk at you. No! That’s that other road, the old media one. This is new media, where we have a democracy, and freedom of speech. And we are brutally honest too.
In social media, you cannot establish a presence and then keep quiet. That is just weird and it is this awkward silence that will make us want to create some distance from you, you weirdo. We unfollow you, unlike you, unfriend you, and unsubscribe from your posts. If you are here and are not talking with us, you are not adding any value to us. So we do what we need to do to get away from you. In social media, you walk and you talk. You establish a presence and you participate. You don’t hit and run. That’s not how it works.
There are many reasons Liverpool is my all-time favourite football team and one of them is our song, “You will never walk alone.” As a business, why should you? And frankly, you can’t afford it. So get talking. Join the conversation. Ever heard that Markets are Conversations?