The End of Social Media

December 22, 2009 at 11:35 am 5 comments

Don’t let the title of this post deceive you: in no way is social media ending, it’s just getting started! But social media is simply the means to a very important end: face-to-face communication.

Social media is a great way to facilitate conversation online, but it needs to go beyond that if you want to fully establish your personal brand. 140 character is just not enough to make meaningful connections with people.

Last week, I attended The Interactive Association of West Michigan (#aimwest) event, “Egg Nog Networking” and Grand Rapids Social Diary Retro Christmas Party (@GRSocialDiary), both in Grand Rapids, Mich. Aimwest was my first mass-tweetup where I met almost 10 people that I regularly talk to on twitter. It was exciting having people come up to me and saying “Are you Mikinzie? I recognize you from your avatar photo!” I stayed an hour or two longer than I had planned, even though I knew I had an hour drive ahead of me. I made real-life connections with @SuperDu and @Stellafly – both big on the Grand Rapids PR and social scene and both great people with amazingly big hearts – among several others.

Two days later, I drove the hour drive to back to Grand Rapids for the Grand Rapids Social Diary Retro Christmas party, where I reconnected with several people I had met a few days prior and chatted the night away with a few new people, such as Grand Valley State University PR Senior @PattyBaragar and Marketing and Sales Manager at Amway Hotel @SmileRy (see below, first and second from the left). And I had a few free professional photos taken of me to boot! Needless to say, it was a fun and light-hearted networking event.

After countless new advancements in technology, face-to-face communication still proves to be the most effective method of communicating with people and creating meaningful relationships. Sometimes it may be impossible to personally meet some of the people you communicate with through social media, such as when you are time zones away. However, my advice is to take advantage of EVERY opportunity you have to meet the people with which you tweet.

I didn’t feel like making the hour drive to Grand Rapids and back at night in the snow (if anyone has talked to me at length or read my tweets, they know my phobia of driving). And after a few stressful weeks of finishing papers, projects and exams for school, the last thing I felt like doing was getting dressed up and engaging in small talk when I finally had a chance to relax. Quite frankly, I felt like sitting on the couch in my sweatpants and watching movies all night. But I dragged my bum off the couch and made the trip. At the end of the night, I was so glad that I had.

There are several ways to meet-up with people near your geographical location:

1. Conferences or Group Events

Any group that you belong to or are interested in probably has some sort of event; go to it! Some events will require payment, but you can usually find a few “freebies” or free networking events held at restaurants, pubs, bookstores, etc throughout the year. A few Michigan events that I plan on making the drive for this year are West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, Aimwest and Grand Rapids Social Diary. In Chicago, I’m hoping to be able to make it to (or afford) at least one Ragan Communications Conference within the year.

2. Organize a Tweetup

Nothing going on around your location? Create your own event! Talk to a few people you regularly chat with on twitter and collectively organize your own tweetup or do it yourself. Invite anywhere from five people to a hundred! Make sure the location is easily accessible, affordable and not too distracting, ie a restaurant or a laid-back bar.

3. “Lunch” Dates

Schedule one-on-one coffee or lunch dates with people you know from twitter. Make sure that you have chatted with this person and know they are who they say they are by connecting with them on several different forms of social media and researching their online presence (Google is a good place to start). You want to make sure that he or she can be fully trusted before you meet them. Make sure it is a public place and let others know where you are going and what time you’re expected to be back. Safety first!

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Micah Vandegrift  |  December 22, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Great post. The title really got my attention!
    I am excited to join my fellow Tallahassee Tweeters at the 2nd (hopefully of many) Official Tally Tweetup in late Jan. It will be my first time meeting anyone from my social media feeds!
    Enjoying your posts!

    Micah V.

    Reply
  • 2. jasmollica  |  December 22, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Mikinzie,
    You hit it out of the park here. Conferences are great and if you are in school, check with a department chair or dean to see if they can help with the cost (within reason). And bring a resume or five with you. Perfect time to “work the lobby.” As a student you are a free-agent, so sell yourself to a prospective employer.

    Meeting up for coffee or lunch with people you talk to on Twitter is something I have been doing lately. I am scheduling a get-together for the new year with two Twitfriends (new word). It’ll be a chance to pick their brains and hopefully establish concrete relationships for future projects.
    I’d also recommend swapping resumes, if this is a student. The more eyes the better..

    Terrific post! 🙂
    Jason

    Reply
  • 3. derekdevries  |  December 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    We’re only beginning to see the start of what mobile phones and social networking apps can do in terms of lowering the barriers for socialization in meatspace.

    When Foursquare finally gets off its ass and rolls out coverage for the major cities in the rest of the US – it’s going to be a powerful tool for facilitating face-to-face interaction. So is Google Goggles:

    http://www.foursquare.com/
    http://www.google.com/mobile/goggles/

    PS I think you mean “geographic” – not “geological” :-]

    Reply
  • 4. mikinzie  |  December 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Derek- I hadn’t had my coffee yet when I finished the post this morning. Thanks for the heads up.

    Reply
  • 5. Jenna  |  December 22, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I agree, one of the real powers of social media is the ability to connect people online so they can connect offline. I have met so many great people through tweetups and other events. It is great putting a face to the avatar, as well as meeting someone in person, and then continuing the relationships online.

    Some other events to check out:
    http://www.socialmediaclub.com – They have local chapters all over the world that organize regular events focused on of course, social media. It’s a great place to network and learn from your local online friends. Check out the site to find a chapter near you.

    http://barcamp.org/ – lilke a Tweetup, go ahead and organize your own! These “unconference” events are put on by the people, for the people. Everyone is encouraged to present and contribute, making it a worthwhile experience for everyone.

    Great post!

    Reply

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