Social Media: Personal or Impersonal?

This is a guest post from Christina Khoury, a founding member of the PR Breakfast Club. For more information on Christina, check out her bio below.

Social media is what you make of it.  This goes for both companies and individuals.  As an individual who loves building relationships through social media, it infuriates me when people say Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and any other social media tool makes us impersonal.

I founded a blog with eight other amazing PR professionals.  These people are my closest friends.  We’ve attended baby showers, birthdays, and are attending Keith Trivitt’s wedding this May!  People travel hundreds to thousands of miles to meet their online friends “in real life.”  Hell, I flew to Minneapolis to meet some amazing people and also trekked up to Boston simply to meet virtual Vistaprint buddies, Mr. Esposito and Mr. Keith.  A colleague met her current boyfriend via a tweet-up almost two years ago.  He moved from Chicago to NY and they happily live together.

Yet, social media is still impersonal?

Social media allows companies to be personal too.  You have direct access to learn what your consumers are thinking, how they feel about product X, and what they want from you to become a better company.  By being active in social media, companies can show gratitude and retain a loyal fan base.  Here are two examples, one personal and one best practice (in my opinion):

  • I was out with 3 girlfriends at Dos Caminos, a delicious Mexican restaurant in New York City.  Of course, we checked in via Foursquare using the company’s Twitter handle (@DosCaminos).  We were all happily surprised when @DosCaminos tweeted us back to thank of us for choosing them and asking us where we were sitting so that they could send over complimentary signature drinks.  Thank you and free drinks?  We were all sold on their customer service. We tweeted about them and talked about the next day at our company as best practice.
  • I work in the travel industry and love how the Four Seasons uses social media.  Recently, Thomas Marzano shared his experience with the Four Seasons in Palo Alto.  He simply tweeted using the hotel’s handle about it’s spa and the hotel responded to see if it could make reservations for him.  Upon entering his room, he found a handwritten note saying “hope you have a fantastic/ “tweet worthy” visit and to tweet or call requests.  Later in his trip he tweeted about the beautiful bathroom and the hotel sent up a bottle of bath salt to fully enjoy the bathtub experience. Of course, with a handwritten note.

Only we can make our interaction on social media personal.  We should be encouraging our clients to take these online connections and take them up a notch with a more human touch.  Simple recognition via a handwritten note goes a long way.

How have you made interacting on social media more personal?  How do you encourage clients to take the connections with their customers online to that personal level?

About Christina Khoury

Christina KhouryChristina Khoury, travel publicist at Quinn & Co., is a lover of all things travel, social media & music. Her most memorable travel experience was riding a camel at sunrise in the Sahara Desert. Christina is also co-founded, an industry blog that covers an array of topics from social media to public relations with a big dose of humor.

6 Responses to Social Media: Personal or Impersonal?
  1. kottavio
    April 1, 2011 | 1:44 pm

    Great post Steenz. You get what you give. If you constantly tweet at people rather than engage, you won’t get much out of this realm. I’ve met some of my best friends via Twitter!

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  3. ChrisEhrlich
    April 8, 2011 | 10:52 am

    Hi Christina,

    Love the two examples of moving online interactions with customers offline.

    Think that using social platforms to evolve relationships online or offline is, as you describe in the opening, the real beauty of social media.

    Think that brands with social media channels devoid of the essential social component will find equally disengaged audiences on the other end. Social-less online environments are essentially static support or push-marketing mediums.

    And think that brands, including B2Bs, that integrate social media outreach across the organization — a la guest services at the Four Seasons — will, by standard measures, enjoy fruitful relationships with their audiences!

    -Chris Ehrlich

  4. jeffespo
    April 9, 2011 | 6:06 am

    @ChrisEhrlich Thanks Chris. Businesses in general need to have a firms strategy. The spray and pray approach is going to see continual diminished returns and as you noted companies building relationships will prosper. It goes for both B2B, B2C, online and offline companies.

  5. ThomasMarzano
    April 9, 2011 | 10:32 pm

    Hi Christina!

    Great post and thanks for referencing my article on Four Seasons! 🙂



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