In March 2013 I wrote an entry entitled Communication Breakdown in which I addressed problems with communicating intentions and improving listening skills. Today I want to tackle another aspect of our communication breakdown, that of rapid fire communication.
Did you know that hihowareyou is not all one word? I find myself increasingly irritated at how many people ramble that phrase at me, whether on the phone or person, all the while not really listening or even caring about my answer. Hi How Are You has become a staple greeting for so many people that it has lost its meaning.
Many of my friends know that I almost never answer that question when they call me and lead with it. I in turn never ask them that question when I call. I prefer more specific questions – ones that hopefully indicate I truly care about what I’m inquiring over. “How are you feeling today,” or “what’s new in your world?”
Raise your hand if you have answered How Are You with a “good” even when you’re not. Now I ask you, what is the point of this greeting if the result is meaningless and the answer isn’t true. I also cringe every time someone on the phone says “good, thanks” when not only haven’t I responded to their howareya query, but specifically have NOT asked them how they are in return. They simply answer out of robotic routine moving obliviously into the reason for their call.
The bottom line here is that we are not truly communicating (speaking with intent and listening). Another problem in current communication skills is the intrusion of technology. I continually marvel (disappointedly) at how many couples, families, teenagers sit oblivious to each other, engaged almost exclusively with their phones. Questions are asked and answered with little eye contact. Meals are conducted with televisions on, car rides have the radios blaring, everyone lost in their own private worlds.
Despite the evidence that texting, Instagraming and Facebook check-ins is keeping us in touch with our friends and family in a more consistent manner than ever before, this lack of personal one-on-one communication is decreasing our ability to conduct meaningful or intimate connections.
Society has decided that it’s less intrusive, and therefore more considerate to text someone rather than call them. I disagree. A quick I’m on my way text is fine, but entire conversations or negotiating complicated plans – what’s wrong with actually talking? We’ve also turned phrases that were formerly used as proper social greeting manners into throw-away comments –like hihowyadoin, and straight-forward conversations seem to be more dialogues of double-talk these days.
So what does this teach our current and future generations? I fear more for what it does not teach. The ability to conduct oneself articulately and tactfully. To get your feelings or desires across quickly, succinctly and compassionately. More importantly, that a person can be comfortable with personal and meaningful interactions with family, friends, and co-workers alike.
Likely many of you, especially those in generations below mine (I’m a baby-boomer afer all) disagree with my assessment of current communication and that’s okay. But before you scoff, see how many times you or those around you say hihowareyou and more importantly, how much you or they even listen to or acknowledge the response. If you find my perspective to hold a little more weight, then perhaps you will find room for improvement in your communication skills. Then pay it forward and perhaps our communication breakdowns will lessen.
One of the first things I address when coaching a Business Development client is about growing their business through the use of Social Networking. Business off all sizes have embraced the use of Social Networking as a marketing tool. These entities are not just purchasing Facebook ads and the like, but creating business pages wherein customers and clients can interact with the business. It’s quick, it’s relatively easy (once you understand how they work), and its free PR and advertising.
Now you may already appreciate the need for social network marketing, but many small business owners tend to assign either too much or too little attention to this fast rising facet of small business marketing. If you spend too much time on it, you will likely lose two to three hours a day of your valuable time setting up and updating the myriad of pages necessary to achieve full search engine optimization and the free marketing that comes from multiple site accounts. Spend too little time and you will miss out on the aforementioned benefits.
Once you’ve established your business’s social sites, an often ignored step is to track your audience. After a few months, you will learn which sites gain you the most attention (and subsequently more business), which types of postings generate the most buzz, etc. Then you can customize your marketing plan to prioritize the times, styles, and quantities of your postings to these sites.
Which leads us to the third issue: who will conduct your business’s social networking. If you are a small start-up business or sole-practitioner, then it will undoubtedly fall upon your shoulders to be the Social Networking Coordinator. The problem is that as previously stated, this can be very time-consuming, especially if you are not very adept at utilizing these sites. Conversely, you likely do not have a budget to hire someone to be that coordinator. This is when planning is key. With a well-defined marketing plan, you can designate which sites are most effective to your business, and schedule a small chunk of weekly time (although daily is preferred) to conduct your posts and updates.
Whether you are an old-school business owner less interested or adept at utilizing the social networks, or an aggressive new-age entrepreneur, let me give you a quick crash course on understanding the differences between each of these famous networks. Understanding the demographics that swim within each site will better help any business owner know where and what to post to gain maximum marketing effect.
Although FB has lately experienced a downturn in attendance from younger demographics (12-21), this is still the best place to promote your home-grown business to the demographic that holds the purse strings – adults/parents. Sales, promotions, or eye-catching posts placed during early mornings (as they get to work) and post-dinner (after the kids are fed) will likely gain you the most attention. But FB fans from the ages of 21-55 have FB linked to their smart phones or playing the background of the desktops and can keep an eye on activity all throughout the day, which you should capitalize on.
Twitter is fast paced and more geared towards people talking rather than listening. If your followers are following more than 100 hundred accounts, unless you tweet constantly, your tweets will likely be missed. (The “news feed” flows by very fast when hundreds of twitterers are all twittering at once!) But one key here is that you can link your Twitter and FB pages together so that any Tweet from you is automatically repeated on FB. Now you have achieved instant double marketing.
The primary demographic on this site is women, ages 20-60. Their main focuses: fitness, food, fashion, crafts, travel, and family. If your business is suited to this audience, you should be all over this site. Once again, the beauty of cross-linking is that you can have this site link to twitter and FB. Post once, it can automatically be on 3 sites. Having “boards” (boards and pins within those boards are the basic platform here) that cover not only what your service/product is, but arenas that relate will gain you many followers quickly. (E.g., your product is salsa, so having boards about cooking, recipes, organic foods, parties, would increase your view rate.)
Definitely the preferred site for the younger demographic and not a great self-advertising platform, but depending upon your products’ age focus, this site could definitely give you a leg up on the competition if you approach it youthfully enough. It’s really a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, blending photos with quick commentary.
This is the site if you want to do a little of this and a little of that. You can have blog-length entries, you can post a picture with a small caption, you can leave a twitter length statement, or you can update the world on your world. The primary audience for Tumbler is on the younger side, but again, it’s all about your business and who it suits. Like FB, friends tend to chat back and forth, but like Twitter and Instagram it’s quick and well supported by smart phones.
LinkedIn helps you create essential contact and reciprocal relationships with businesses, suppliers, and clients. You can give and receive recommendations, all of which help legitimize your business/services, and post updates on your business’s achievements and growth. Once again, this site offers links to Twitter, and if you have twitter liked to FB, then there’s another 3-for-1 posting.
There are a many more sites all of which may or may not have something to offer your business, only you can ascertain that by perusing those sites (i.e., Digg, Flicker, Blogger, YouTube, WordPress, etc.). But I’ve listed the cream of the crop in my estimation as far as business promotion is concerned. Hopefully this helps you better understand this new world of internet self-promotion. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to set up a Business Development or Social Network Marketing consultation.