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Are 140 characters a bonding moment?

Are 140 Characters Considered a Bonding Moment?

Have you ever noticed that when you are speaking with your colleagues that much of the conversation revolves around surface level things? Things such as the weather, project updates, weekend plans, and the recipe for the great veggie dip from the potluck lunch.

As improbable as it sounds, it seems like there are often more in-depth conversations going on within social media sites like facebook and Twitter than between colleagues in the workplace. There seems to be a shift in how we interact with each other that is taking place. This new form of conversation can reveal a more authentic side of people. Is it because it is easier to connect with others who you may not know? When I sit down and stare at my Twitter home page I am 140 characters away from connecting with hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world. This is appealing in many ways for us as we truly enjoy connecting with people. Technology has made connecting with individuals from anywhere in the world very easy to do. The dark side of this is that when we log off Twitter or facebook we can feel like we are missing something. Are we missing an opportunity to bond with someone?

The 4-drive theory shows us that the drive to bond is a fundamental human drive. People can recognize and understand it immediately when it is happening real time. As human beings we have a drive to connect with other people and the depth of those connections will vary based upon your relationships with them. We bond differently with different people, at different points in our lives and for different reasons. The common aspect is the desire to have a positive relationship with other another human being. We do this through sharing stories, exchange ideas, and listening to one another.

The question is this – how does technology impact our drive to bond? Can the drive to bond be satisfied 140 characters at a time? Do we need to have the happy-hour hang out scene after work in order for this drive to be filled, or can we bond effectively without ever meeting a person face-to-face? Is technology becoming just another avenue for us to bond or is it shifting the very nature of the bonding experience?

Based upon our limited experience, we feel that technology is shifting the very nature of our interactions. The ability to share thoughts and ideas with the world, changes how we communicate. That change can also impact how we connect with others. It provides opportunities for greater sharing and more revealing conversations. For many people, it is easier to tweet about a thought or idea than it would be to share that thought or idea coworkers. On this level, it can foster greater bonds. However, we’ve also realized that there is power to having face-to-face sharing. When Susan attended Blogwell, she met many tweeters on the bus and at the conference and because of the human aspect of meeting them in person, she was able to bond faster and with more trust. The real potential, as we see it, is in being able to meld these two forms and garner both the emotional aspects of face-to-face bonding with the deeper insight and discussion that often comes with the help of the electronic word.

We would welcome your thoughts and comments?

Blogwell: Top 3 Insights


A week ago today I attended the Blogwell Conference  in Minneapolis, MN.  It was a wonderful event packed full of great content but after the 4 hours my head was spinning!  I since have had time to process the event a little bit further and I have discovered three key insights:

  1. Try, Try Again, and Keep Trying
  2. Small Business Advantage
  3. Authentic Conversations

 Try, Try Again, and Keep Trying

The Blogwell Conference was geared towards larger corporations and the lessons they have learned thus far in implementing and embracing social media.  One of the presentations I attended was by McDonald’s.  The key insight I walked away with from their presentation was to try something and if it does not work revise and try again, and if that does not work, revise, and keep on trying. They were persistent in their social media efforts.  In an organization that is as large as McDonald’s, that includes a layer of franchises in the business model, this equates to an interesting dilemma on how to use social media.  The utilization of social media has taken on a tailored and customized approach, not only for their customers, but for the employees as well. The interaction with their customers is from the approach of, “Once we’ve created the relationships, it’s all about cultivating them so that eventually, hopefully, they will become key brand ambassadors for us,” said Heather Oldani.  They went out and did some research on what their employees would like in a web based community.  Station M was created with their input and, “the whole idea of which is to give the crew a place to come and engage with each other,” stated Steve Wilson.

Small Business Advantage

The surprise insight was that big business may have the overwhelming brand recognition and large consumer base but small businesses in general have the social media advantage.  The Lantern Group, Inc. is considered a small business and as we have been implementing various social media solutions it had never occurred to me the advantages we had with social media.  The layers of bureaucracy within large organizations can stifle or shut down any social media project.  The social media advocate within the large organization may spend more time selling the benefits of social media than actually getting started on the implementation and utilization of social media.  This is a key advantage for small businesses. As a small business there was a bit of investigating, selling and cost benefit analysis before we implemented any social media tools but this process took less than two months.  The surprising thing was that although there is a learning curve to social media tools, setting them up was fairly quick and user friendly.  But like Mc Donald’s we have tried things, revised, and tried again as we are continuously learning and growing about what works, what our customers want, and the best way to deliver the information.

Authentic Conversations

This reflective insight came from the last blog post I wrote on Monday, (Blogwell Unleashes Your Brain), where I discussed the authenticity of the conference attendees and how social media can bring out authentic conversations.  Some big and small businesses may struggle with social media because of their inability or fear of being authentic in their communication and actions.  Think about it, when is the last time any conversation on authenticity took place in the average cubicle dwellers workplace or for that matter in the local Chamber of Commerce meetings for small businesses?  The industrial age thinking of when you walk into your place of work you are no longer ‘you’ with your own voice, opinions, and perspectives you are now part of the organization and thus must think, act, and behave according to their rules. The industrial age mindset is still a part of many organizations and like any change this mindset will collide against those individuals within the organization that want to engage in authentic conversations.  There is hope, listening to the many presenters at the Blogwell Conference showed that there are engaged and visionary leaders in larger organizations who are trying to figure out social media. I believe it is not a coincidence that companies who have embraced innovation throughout their history are also embracing social media, i.e. General Mills.

Social Media will continue to evolve and change how we communicate with our customers and our employees. My hope is that one day all of the cubicle dwellers and the Chamber of Commerce attendees will become engaged in the incredible conversations and share their authentic voice.

Susan Stone


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