Business is about relationships, we all know that. And thankfully the online world of social media helps you build, extend and maintain relationships in more ways than you imagined possible just a few years ago. There really is no excuse nowadays for not being able to have good relationships with your customers or suppliers.
Sometimes, though, a relationship can be too “busy”. Years ago I remember working in an office where one of our suppliers was forever on the phone, “bumping into us” down the pub, popping into the office – eventually we could not wait to get rid of him. He was an annoyance because he was seemingly always there.
The world of social media means that it is now possible for each of us to be just as annoying. There you are on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Pinterest, on anything else you care to mention, no matter when your customer logs in. You can easily be an omnipresence.
Nowadays we can conduct our relationship building in multiple channels. The problem is we don’t seem to be aware of when we reach the “tipping point” from being able to remind our customers of our existence and our interest in them to being an annoyance.
New research from the University of Oxford suggests that this is a real possibility. In a study of 24,000 couples it found that some relationships were affected negatively by the widespread use of several social media channels. Dr Bernie Hogan who conducted the study said: “there may be a cut-off point after which the increasing complexity of maintaining so many separate communications threads starts to undermine relationship ties”.
Importantly, the study also found that having a wide array of relationship channels did not actually enhance relationships either. In other words, social media doesn’t make our relationships any better – in spite of what we may think. The research evidence suggests it merely allows us to ensure our messages get through.
So, what does this mean for your business relationships? It suggests that you can stop worrying about being “present” in as many social media as possible; you don’t have to try too hard. It suggests that you should also consider carefully how you use each medium so that you do not become an annoyance. In other words, social media is something which needs careful planning and management if you are to strike the right balance between visibility and not being annoying.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+