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Social Media AKA the Trust Network

By: Guest | March 11, 2013 | 
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Julia Rosien

Today’s guest post is by Julia Rosien.

Being on Twitter is a little like knocking on the gates to the Emerald City. Oh, the wondrous opportunities waiting on the other side.

But it comes with a price.

Opening an account and tweeting is an invitation to the world that you’re available. You’re here to talk, get to know people, do business – whatever it is you want to do.

To get, you must give.

To play, you must pay.

Reciprocity Changes How We do Business

If your business is on social media and you’re seeing results (leads, sales, customer loyalty, etc.) you likely understand the whole system is built on reciprocity, a finely tuned pay-it-forward network.

While it’s still shocking to some, you understand building relationships, person-to-person, is the glue that makes the whole system work.

The Unwritten “Social Media Code of Ethics”

With each person who follows you, an invisible contract is written. For their valuable time and attention, you agree to be authentic and honest.

Although they’ll tolerate some marketing messages, you don’t have permission to fill up their stream with links to your products or services.

And it’s mutual.

You both sign the same contract, which gives you the right to unfollow when they misbehave.

Key point – it’s your choice. Following a brand or person on any social media channel doesn’t guarantee a follow. The choice is always yours. Stay and play or take your fun elsewhere.

Why the Trust Network Works

Let’s be real for a minute. Even though we all use social media differently, we’re all here for a reason. We have a story to tell and we want people to hear it. That story might be about a product or service but it might be about your joys and frustrations and financial struggles as a single mom. It might be your way of staying in touch with your grandchildren.

Like real life, social media is filled with a smorgasbord of personalities. From weird Uncle Harry who’s always three sheets to the wind (even at 7 a.m.) to that frenemy who says she likes you to your face but as soon as you’re not around, the air is blue with tales of your treachery.

Here’s where the magic lies, though.

When the importance of telling your story shifts to actually hearing other stories, you invite more sharing and naturally eliminate conflict. It’s called reciprocity and relationships become stronger because people believe you’re there for them, not using them. When you remain competitive about telling your story, emotions run high and no one wins.

But what happens when someone slips up and breaks that hard-earned trust? Is there a saving grace?

If These Walls Could Talk

My dad used to tell me the bigger person is the one walks away from a fight, and it’s no easier to do it on social media than it was when I was kid on the schoolyard.

But I can also tell you, turning away, keeping your back straight, and walking with purpose has the same effect now as it did back then.

Dad was right.

When emotions get out of hand, shift your perspective and shine the light on the other person and what s/he needs from you.

  • Offer up the olive branch and save the other person’s dignity. It costs far less than you think.
  • Pick up the phone and talk. That connection alone has saved many relationships for me.
  • State your position and move on if they’re not receptive to working with you to find a solution.

Some people feed off of conflict and are happiest when they’re stirring the pot. When you’ve exhausted all other channels – or if the conflict is just not worth the drama – move on. Unfollow the person and carry on with your other relationships.

When to Block a Follower

And if that person doesn’t take the hint that you don’t want to engage, block them. It won’t prevent them from doing their paranoid checks on your stream but it will slow down their access to you. It also won’t prevent them from reaching out to you – but your response is your choice.

There is no “one” right way to engage on Twitter – but there is a wrong way. I asked a few of my friends on Twitter if they’ve ever blocked someone. The answers were thoughtful, smart and, in my opinion, emotionally mature. Unlike some people I’ve blocked.

SpikeMobile – I’ve unfollowed people who are negative or complain a lot on Twitter. I don’t want their bad energy bringing me down. It felt so good!

KWTFR – I’ll tweet you, you’ll tweet me, together we’ll encourage reciprocity. I believe trust can be earned back, but it would be a journey and take effort from all parties.

Dhatfield – If someone gets blocked – there’s a reason. Each of us create our own online experience and blocking is one way to do it. We should never have to explain or apologize for blocking someone online that is not contributing in a positive way.

MitchPopilchak – I tried to unfollow, but that wasn’t enough, though it should have been. Personal circle. And I was grilled on it. I just did what some others wanted to do. Still standing firm. No regrets.

Karen_C_Wilson – I probably wouldn’t block someone I know unless we had a falling out. I have blocked non-bots though.

FlourishFlorals – Someone who tweeted racist remarks.

BrianJacklin – Absolutely! It’s my feed after all, right?

AMotherhoodBlog – I haven’t blocked anyone I know personally, but I’ve blocked mean people who’ve upset me on Twitter before.

What does your Twitter stream say about you or your company? What are your rules of engagement?

Julia Rosien is the founder and chief idea officer of SocialNorth, a social media strategy firm, as well as founder and owner of GoGirlfriend, a travel-based website for women. Julia serves on various boards of directors, co-founded Canada’s first 140 Conference and  is a much-requested speaker in a variety of industries. She’s been named one of the most influential women in social media and was a nominee for the Roger’s 2011 Women of the Year celebration in Waterloo Region. Friend her on Facebook or connect with her on LinkedIn.

46 comments
JuliaRosien
JuliaRosien

@Appinions Thanks so much for sharing - hope you're enjoying your journey in the *trust network*

jdrobertson
jdrobertson

Twitter! Never been there! Never done that! Don't want the T-shirt! I have time constraints preventing me from going beyond my Facebook page. I ocassionally find a site that interests me so I devote what little discretionary time I have interfering with the poor soul who owns it. My day is made if I can capture the interest of Spin Sucks' Ms. Dietrich. But I must give thought to my observations and I can't do that if I'm up to my neck in other media outlets.  So I pick and choose and Twitter ain't on my list of good guys.

syed_farhan_1
syed_farhan_1

Social Media AKA the Trust Network RT %s When it's time to block a follower on %s by %s %s8NT

Karen_C_Wilson
Karen_C_Wilson

I love the advice you're giving here (and that you quoted me :). I'd actually say that by offering that olive branch, it maintains the other side's dignity and bolsters your own. I've "walked away" from a number of discussions online and in person before they degraded into that level. I wish I could say I've got a knack for taking the high road, but it took me a while to build the confidence in myself that I didn't need to convince the other side to my way of thinking. Having a respectful discourse where ideas are shared and debated is one of the facets of social media that I enjoy the most. If I felt the need for everyone to agree with me all the time, I'd miss out on a lot of ideas that are worth considering. 

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Julia this is great, I keep thinking about writing something like this but you summed up what I would have said so now there's no need =)

 

One thing that I also think about a lot ---> Even people that are I respect/admire fall into the mirror trap, how many followers can I get, etc... and if you're engaged and ethical you should always feel empowered to let go of that sort of person as soon as you feel it's unhealthy for you. If they're listening it's a good reminder for them too.

 

And your point about being authentic and honest.....a 93 foot tall high five to that!........I'm totally fine with people disagreeing with me or thinking I'm weird, but honesty and ethics are not negotiable.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

Did you happen to see the post @dannybrown wrote last week about how some of the social media early adopters have forgotten that trust is what it's all about? Not the same post, by any means, but similar messages. 

 

I say to people all the time, "If you hate spam and marketing messages, why do you get behind your desk and send the very offenders you hate from your company account?" When people think about it from that perspective, they begin to realize it's easier to switch their messaging than they first thought.

allenmireles
allenmireles

I don't block easily or often but there are times when it only makes sense. Blocking a troll, that's sometimes the only answer. Blocking a pornbot (and I saw a new one the other day that left me with my mouth hanging open in shock) can be a good move. Great post and I agree with the points you make. Also agree with your Dad's advice. Nice to meet you here, @JuliaRosien.

The_AmusingMuse
The_AmusingMuse

I've unfollowed the Emotional Vampires and I've blocked a couple people who have gotten out of hand with their creepy comments.  It's my sandbox and I'll boot out whomever I want.

JohnMTrader
JohnMTrader

@SpinSucks YP - are you dreaming of a phat X-mas gift in that profile pic or did you just see Brad Pitt in person? :)

JuliaRosien
JuliaRosien

 @Karen_C_Wilson Morning Karen! Thank you for joining in the original discussion and for commenting again here. This is why social media works for most of us - the ability to share and discuss with an open mind. And sometimes agree to disagree.

JuliaRosien
JuliaRosien

 @JoeCardillo Thanks so much, Joe - what a beautiful compliment.

 

Long before social media, I worked in a prison for women. I wrote a lot about my experiences there and eventually tried to sell some of my essays. More than one publication told me that I'd never publish my stories unless I disclosed the women's real names. I was a struggling freelancer and I'm not going to lie - the lure was huge.

 

But I kept the names to myself. There is no price on integrity. Ever. Ten years after my "prison term" I finally spoke to an audience in NYC about my experiences. It was worth the wait. And it was good training ground for social media - hold onto what's important to you - that's always a good choice.

JuliaRosien
JuliaRosien

 @ginidietrich  @dannybrown Gini, I haven't read Danny's post but you can bet I'm going to now. I agree, some people have forgotten what this is all about and why it works - we're all guilty of that too once in a while. But if you never circle back to why you started in the first place, the road to social media decay is a slippery slope... Thank you again for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your community!

JuliaRosien
JuliaRosien

 @allenmireles Hi Allen, I agree - I have a very long fuse on social media and will always choose to walk away from conflict. But, there have been a few people who have tested just how long that fuse is - people that I know in real life. At the end of the day, my social media stream is like my living room. I invite friends and colleagues in - bullies are not welcome.

JuliaRosien
JuliaRosien

 @The_AmusingMuse I like the way you think. If someone pees in your sandbox, you have every right to restrict access. After all, who wants that kind of drama in their life? Not me!

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

 @JuliaRosien  @JoeCardillo YW, and I absolutely agree, no one ever said we wouldn't be *tempted* to do the wrong thing, it's how we respond and process it that gives us the opportunity to be better at our jobs, better humans, and of course, better at social media.

 

Also illustrated by your story is that the little things matter....if we choose to let the little things slide it becomes that much harder to have integrity on the big things.

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