In this article, we will be exploring the effect that social media has on friendships and business relationships. Social media behaviors are entrenched in the daily lives of those who participate in any social networks. There is no doubt that these interactions have an effect, or even a big impact, on relationships.
This will be a multi-part series on this topic where we will seek to answer some of the following questions:
- How do you differentiate between business and personal use in social media?
- Where do you (or should you) draw the line between what is personal and what is professional?
- Does participation in social media expand friendships or just add acquaintances?
- For businesses, can you really connect better with consumers through social media?
- Do social connections to a business remain more loyal customers and even brand advocates?
- Does social media hurt some types of businesses? Do all businesses benefit from social media or should some avoid it?
- What do you consider social media interactions? Sure, all of the many social channels fall into this category but some might also include blogging and email. Which channels do you include in your definition of social media?
We would love to hear your feedback, personal stories, and answers to these questions. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Based on your comments and feedback, we will continue to build this article series on social media relationships, highlighting the exploration of the difference between personal and professional connections and how the two blend in social media settings.
Before we can explore each of these questions, we will first seek to establish some definitions for some common social media terms. This will allow us to establish how common definitions have changed through the years of social media interactions and examine how social media does affect all types of relationships on the scale from family and close friends all the way through to business associates or customers/clients.
Here are some definitions to consider:
Friendship: Friendship is a tough one to actually define in black and white because it likely means something different to each person. Wikipedia defines it as "a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people." Of course, there are different levels or forms of friendship and each person likely has their own definition or classification including close friends, best friends, old friends, work friends, etc.
Fans: In terms of social media, fan is a term mostly used in Facebook; and it has even become a verb in terms of "fanning" a page, which is the act of "liking or following" a page. Techopedia explains that "a Facebook fan is a user who likes a particular Facebook page." As you probably know, when you "like" a Facebook brand or businesses page, you will receive updates from that page in your Facebook timeline. In 2010, Facebook changed the terminology from fan to "liking a page." Facebook explained that their change in terminology is a way to offer "a more light-weight and standard way to connect with people, things, and topics in which you are interested."
Followers: Follower has become a more general term and is used across most social channels. Users can follow a business or brand page on any social network. Many of the points above that apply to fans apply to followers as well. When you follow a business's or brand's social media channel, you will receive their updates in your stream on that particular social platform.
Business Connections: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a connection as "two or more things joined together." Therefore, it can be inferred that the definition of a business connection is two or more people joined together for the purpose of discussing or connecting about business.
Influencers: Dictionary.com defines an influencer as someone who has "the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or producing effects on the actions, behaviors, opinions, etc., of others." Social media influencers can help expand the reach of a message because they compel others and command their attention more than the average person. You might say that influencers have a lot of respect from their audience so others on social media might pay more attention to an influencer's social media posts.
In the upcoming series, we will not only take a look at your input about social media relationships but also explore best practices for using social media for friends, acquaintances and business connections.
Social media is a wonderful breeding ground for friendships and other human connections. As you start to connect with people and interact with them online, you will begin to see that it is easier than you think to establish connections. When it comes to relationships through social media, the rules are more relaxed and connections are made in ways that you may not have thought possible before.
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