The Secrets of Social Media Relationships Are the Secrets of All Relationships

We noticed a certain article, “The 3 Deadliest Social Media Sins You Can Commit,” and it meant more than we thought at first. Let us share what the “deadliest sins” are, and then we’ll make our point.

This unholy troika really is composed of the worst possible approaches in social media practice. (Think of the company you least enjoy interacting with.) Not surprisingly, the first sin is silence. Silence is to be there, but not to be there. It’s when a customer reaches out in social media, perhaps with a complaint, or a plea for help, or a kind word, and it’s met with…silence.

1. Failing to respond in social media

One third of customers never get a response in social media. They get silence. Think about the different way you feel about a business when you get a quick personal response compared to when you get no response at all. The former feels like there’s sunshine and hope for humankind. The latter feels like January in Siberia. The human connection is the most powerful tool business can ever use. Neurology says our brains are wired for social connection. Sometimes we don’t even pick up the tool, much less use it well.

2. Responding in social media to blame the innocent

The second deadliest sin of social media is blame. We know customers want answers and don’t have time for scapegoating. The correct response to a problem must always have the same tone as the word “Yes.” The words, “It’s their fault,” surely provoke some neurological ripping of synapses in the brain of any customer. Blame is betrayal in the customer relationship, where the business’s lack of empathy and caring is exposed.

Deflecting blame seems so appropriate at the time. But it’s truly a disaster. The customer thinks, “You so misunderstood my feelings that you allowed yourself to put your interests ahead of mine. I don’t even know who you are.”

3. Neglecting social media relationships

The third sin is neglect. It seems to us that neglect is just a form of stinginess. It’s stinginess with our time, which is really the most valuable commodity anyone ever has. When we neglect our customers in social media, they sense our stinginess and feel less important, like less of a friend. Being a friend is sort of what social media is all about. Maybe the modern world isn’t such a crazy place after all. In any case, we must not be stingy with our friends. In the end, we will be known by how we choose to allocate our time.

The larger point is this: the deadliest sins of social media are the deadliest sins of all relationships. Silence, blame, and neglect break apart trust in all relationships, whether with customers, employees, employers, spouses, children, the mail carrier, the schoolteacher, or the person you sit next to on the plane.

It’s because human connections work so much better with conversation, servanthood, and consistent contact—the opposites of silence, blame, and neglect. It seems to be a law of the universe, doesn’t it?

These are actually the core principles of social media communication. To master them in practice is at least to understand what makes relationships work. To practice them is a challenge not just for social media, but for life.


Karl Witkowski [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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