The Human Contract You Sign When You Use Social Media

Isra Garcia
Isra Garcia Digital transformation marketer and new media analyst, IG - Empowering People, Business and Communities

Posted on April 5th 2014

The Human Contract You Sign When You Use Social Media

We undoubtedly live in a hyper-connected world. We can tweet, talk on Skype, send messages over Whatsapp, chat on Facebook, “like” what our circle of friends is doing, upload a video to YouTube, pin images on Pinterest, upload a picture of the sunset from our smartphone, check our email inbox in case some life-changing event has taken place somewhere and, last but not least, work… all at the same time. That is, if our multitasking mode hasn’t seized up yet!

Hyper-accessible

We’re currently accessible to more or less anyone in the world. It isn’t that hard to contact the Head of HR at Virgin or the Publications Director at Alienta, for instance. It has become really simple to connect with potential suppliers or clients. However, we shouldn’t forget that being accessible to everyone doesn’t always mean answering back. Being helpful doesn’t mean always helping out. Similarly, not failing doesn’t mean always getting it right. Not having a contract doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Not signing one doesn’t mean not accepting it.

Empathy is Connectivity

However, when we connect, we forget about what’s going on with the other party: how the other person we’re connecting with is feeling, what’s going on in their surroundings, what their pace is, what they could be doing at a given moment, how they feel, whether they’ve had a great day or a terrible one, whether they could be in trouble or going through a rough patch. At the end of the day we’re only people. I feel terrified by people who don’t even try to understand the person they’re in contact with.

Understanding Connectivity

The issue here is respect, empathy, taking into consideration and appreciating the other person. You can keep admiration, anxiety and ego to yourself, thanks. The issue here is not invading the other person’s “social life” every time an idea comes into our head but, rather, aiming to understand where and how people interact in each social web platform in order to understand when and how, in what way to interact with them and what tone to use. I’m sure your time is very valuable to you; so is the other person’s to them.

Think about and try to understand how the other party you’re trying to connect with relates to others, thinks, interacts, creates conversations, helps, entertains themselves, has fun and works. Then half the battle will be won!

The Unwritten Contract

Before invading or taking over any connection, understand that a human contract exists between both parties:

  • Being able to connect doesn’t entitle you to connecting whenever you feel like it.
  • We’re all protected by a circle of connection, resonance and alignment. Before contacting you should earn the right to belong to that circle.
  • We don’t use Whatsapp to send doctoral theses or emails turned into messages. Perhaps don’t even use this service professionally, why would you even think you could connect with us using Whatsapp? And how did you even get hold of our phone number anyway?!
  • Facebook messages perhaps aren’t the best place to talk about work or settle any doubts, more so if your profile doesn’t include a professional site I can contact you at. There may be a reason why you didn’t see a Facebook icon when you visited our website or blog!
  • You can contact us without needing us to follow you on Twitter. If you want to get in contact, visit the website or blog. If two clicks is too much work for you, let us know and we can send you an email with a contact address.
  • LinkedIn is a professional social network. Therefore, it’s an excellent place to make contacts, connections, to ask questions, get answers, take part in debates, consult or recommend. I wonder why we so often forget about this.
  • If you decide to connect for whatever reason (help, consultation, projects), even if your intention is for the other party to do so altruistically, be serious, professional and fast; don’t beat about the bush and get to the point exactly.
  • Leave your waffling behind, state your intentions clearly, what do you need help with? If you don’t know, we sure as hell don’t!
  • Don’t try to take us for a ride, telling us stories that end up by you wanting us to recommend your product, visit your blog or extract useful information from us. That’s OK, many try to do just that but try being upfront about it. You’ll save us time and we’ll welcome your honesty and clarity in what your intentions are.
  • We want you to be as truthful as you expect us to be.
  • We answer your tweets and DMs, we RT, mention and support your initiatives and if we sometimes don’t, we hope you can forgive us.
  • Talking about someone, about their business, recommending them, promoting them, using our influence to empower them, even donating. All of this is possible without following you on Twitter. What a revolutionary idea, don’t you think?!
  • Remember that email communication tends to evaporate. So be sure to know what you can communicate by email, what requires a phone call and what requires direct contact.
  • If we meet up through Skype and Google +, be specific and to the point, don’t beat about the bush. That’s the way to get further sessions in the future.

Keep your part of the contract

The word “connect” is simply fascinating. However, its meaning is still largely unknown by many. You need to understand the human contract you signed up to when you started using the social web, every time you connect and interact. This isn’t a piece of paper or a PDF file you store in your tablet; it’s a contract of principles, coherence, ethics and ideals. Whenever you don’t keep your part of the contract, we’ll ignore you.

Photo credit: Kirilo.

Isra Garcia

Isra Garcia

Digital transformation marketer and new media analyst, IG - Empowering People, Business and Communities

Marketer, digital transformation and new media advisor, speaker, blogger, educator and an agent of change.

Social Media Today's Best thinker member. Isra is the creator and author of the paradigm that has revolutionised the social media: Human Media and also founder of Stand OUT Program, Engage Worldwide and Principal at IG.

His blog on Social Media, Marketing, disruption, lifestyle, new perspectives, productivity and change is visited by more than 110,000 people every month. Only 31, Isra has taken part as a TEDx speaker on two occasions and has participated in more than 270 industry events as speaker. At 27, he started his own agency, and has worked as consultant and analyst on new forms of online communication and marketing for other agencies and brands such as EMI Music (Spain – Portugal), BlackBerry (UK – Ireland), MTV (UK), Pioneer (UK) and blur Group (UK – USA), Amnesia Ibiza (Spain) and Music On (Spain – Italy). He has been the promoter of MONK (UK – Italy – Sao Paulo), the first Human Media Marketing agency, where he worked as Human Media Evangelist and Advisor, and is now involved as head of digital media at Bridges for Music (South Africa – India – Brazil), an international NGO that fosters and encourages change and talent. Isra has also been in charge of Marco Carola’s personal brand as one of the most influential artists in the electronic music scene worldwide. His fast-moving career has always been related to Web 2.0.  Isra´s early work as a consultant, in charge of teams and Social Media strategies for Social Media & Community. These are just a few of the highlights of his career. Undoubtedly, Isra adds a visionary and human-technological way to understand this new environment that the Internet has provoked.

Leaving aside companies, roles and projects, Isra has always been characterized by a thrilling passion for the human side of communication.

Isra writes for international publications such as Social Media Today, SmartBrief and contributed with FastCompany and is a guest lecturer at EOI, Fundesem Business School, Nottingham Business School, University of Leeds and University of Manchester. He is co-founder and organiser of Adictos Social Media and "Internet Changes Everything."

Isra is a 31-year-old visionary and pioneer who has revolutionized the New Media environment with his concept of Human Media based on human business interactions through the Social Web . Isra pioneered how the the new use of online media leverages the Social Web through human relationships, Human Business Interactions, connectivity, feelings, resonance and of course people. Specialized studies in Spain, UK and USA represent the base for his international career. Isra was recently on TEDx where he introduced his vision about Human Media and its impact on brands, businesses, people and the Web.

In only two and-a-half years, Isra has completed two Ironman races and, since last september, he is one of the only 89 athletes in the world that has completed the three-day ultra endurance event, "Ultraman" (10k swim + 420k bike + 84,3k run). He always pushes the intellectual and physical work far beyond his limits.

You can find Isra at TEDx events, presenting his perspective on Human Media, the future of social media, change, revolution and disruption. Also, in his Spanish blog http://isragarcia.es and international site http://isragarcia.com.

“Writing about oneself is infinitely more difficult than writing about anyone else. You’ll find that the story you thought you were telling people isn’t the story that people perceived.” Isra García.

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Comments

Amanda Antosh
Posted on April 5th 2014 at 9:35PM

"Before contacting you should earn the right to belong to that circle."

As a social media advocate, I would have to disagree here. I encourage active reach out by brands to become a part of larger conversations that pertain to their industry. If "earn the right" means engaging in topics and conversations relevant to a brand's industry, then yes, it would only make sense that they participate in these discussions as they are a part of the conversation.

Yes, brands and businesses are now hyper-accessible--and isn't that a good thing? It's a chance for businesses to connect directly with consumers, to provide customer service in real time, to form meaningful relationships, to be "social." If a brand wants to post an idea, an update, a piece of news, etc. "whenever it pops into their head," I don't see a problem with that. It is not being "disrespectful" of people's time, it's being an authentic, active resource for the people who follow the brand. If someone does not want to receive these updates, they can simply unfollow the brand on Twitter, unlike them on Facebook, and so on. Otherwise, people are following brands for a reason, and expect updates in real time--whenever that time may be.

Sure, there are times when brands should be sensitive of what content they push out, like during times of tragedy, but otherwise brands can't predict how one customer feels on any given day at any given time, and should carry on their content posting schedule as usual. 

"We answer your tweets and DMs, we RT, mention and support your initiatives and if we sometimes don’t, we hope you can forgive us."

Brands do not expect you to engage with every piece of content they push out--it's okay, really. 

Nor do brands carry out sensitive or private discussions via Facebook messaging (or they shouldn't), but that doesn't mean they shouldn't utilize this service as an opportunity to connect. It exists as a channel for engagement, so it's okay that brands use it. Should a conversation need to be taken offline, or in another forum, then brands can direct you.

Brands do not expect you to engage with every piece of content they push out--it's okay, really.

Nor do brands carry out sensitive or private discussions via Facebook messaging (or at least they shouldn't), but that doesn't mean they shouldn't utilize this service as an opportunity to connect. It exists as a channel for engagement, and therefore should be used as one. Should a conversation need to be taken offline or in another forum, then brands can direct you.

"Talking about someone, about their business, recommending them, promoting them, using our influence to empower them, even donating. All of this is possible without following you on Twitter. What a revolutionary idea, don’t you think?!"

Have you just had an awful experience with brands/people pressuring you to follow them? From your tone, you seem to be personally offended. Brands understand that for the most part "likes" and "follows" aren't the ultimate goal of connecting--it's the conversations and formation of relationships that matter.

You seem to be very passionate about your opinions, perhaps if you provided some actual examples you could make a better case, otherwise this seems like a personal rant...

 

 

Isra Garcia
Posted on April 10th 2014 at 7:44PM

Hey Amanda. I think it's great that you disagree with me. It means something is creating friction and, fortunately, friction changes how things are perceived. 

I think you're pretty right with your assumptions. But I do think both approached this post form a different perspective, you're talking about brands and businesses and I'm plainly talking about people. And this makes a huge difference on the whole context.

Anyway, long time I had no awful experience with brands nor people. All works great here. Follows if used correctly have a long lasting positive effect. Unfortunately, we have overvalued this kind of practices.

"Brands understand that for the most part "likes" and "follows" aren't the ultimate goal of connecting--it's the conversations and formation of relationships that matter."

I couldn't be more in agreement with you.

The core of this is at the middle (more or less) of the post. Empathy, ethics, connectiveness, choice and attention, some of the biggest human assets we have to create human interactions (on the Internet and out of it)

This reflects what happens when you work with different organisations, advice board members, connect with people from different cultures, backgrounds, countries for different purposes. Nothing applies 100%, but this is a common pattern we have identified over the years.