The Social Contract: Do I have to be uh, Social?

Implied? Explicit? What does it mean to be Social?

That mileage may vary as will the Rules of Engagement, everything from your Twitter rules to how you LinkedIn, whether or not you mix the professional with the professional, if this is about work, play or any point in between.

Taking the long way around 

This post started in one place, and then took some twists, a couple turns and a few loooong breaks, detouring and rambling along here:

Not everyone is always talking to or more importantly, with us. Many of us buy-in to listen, with an option to speak or engage later. Is there an implied social contract with the lurkers, many of whom only follow because they believe that – should they ever choose to delurk and comment or DM – they’ll have a chance at being heard?

If one develops the reputation for being ‘oh that person is social, they WILL reply, respond, follow back’ – what happens when they suddenly don’t? I don’t know.

The rule of follow back. I ain’t no follow back girl and yet, I get surprised/annoyed when I discover someone with whom I’ve engaged regularly via Twitter and blogs is not following me. (I don’t bite. I shower on a regular basis. I use proper grammar, spelling and character-saving acronyms. I’m a catch – if you care about public relations, wine, travel, SEC sports. I don’t get it.) Anywaaay…

I also don’t understand anemic 0.23% follow-to-follower ratios, or Twitter recommending such users to me. Not saying we should open the floodgates to any yahoo on the street, but something that cracks whole digits can’t be that hard to manage. If I had 10K non-fake (I also block spammers, vanity metrics be damned) followers, I’d be honored to at least follow 1K of them back.

Reciprocity. Tough one, ala thanking Twitter followers. You can’t always respond to every comment or trackback, but I think it’s also rude to ‘ignore’ your supporters, your stakeholders. When that long-supportive lurker finally delurks and offers their two pennies, that’s worth just as much to me as the comments from the usual suspects.

The people subscribe, read, comment and/or share our blogs more than a few times, you know what – they have often have blogs too. (Crazy, right?!) Isn’t responding in kind once in a while basic, professional courtesy? If you reserve your comments and social shares only for your List clique or Tribe of usual suspects, doesn’t that just perpetuate the groupthink we’re supposed to be avoiding?

Again, IDK – I loathe the idea of comment clubs or tit-for-tat RTs, but there’s gotta be some middle ground, some balance – a little give along with some take.

Friends. I think as much about others’ lives and interests as I do their businesses, their blogs. Oh – ‘you’re another Disney fan, just love that’ is what I think when I see your tweet. Moving our engagement from Twitter to other networks, or vice versa; toss in a chatty phone call or two, some emails or DM chats – the relationship really does change. Share a meal, a drink in person – offline networking FTW.

Surprises me, how common it is for me to reference this email or that tweet because of the business friends I’ve made over the years. I’m all about the business, but love that I’ve made real connections and friends online.

It’s who we are.

Whether at a party or behind a keyboard, social is part of us. I don’t know what our social contract is, nor what it will be as we evolve as a social (media) society. But I’m thinking about it – so that’s a step in some direction anyway. FWIW.

Photo: Love that I finally discovered Bluntcard

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10 thoughts on “The Social Contract: Do I have to be uh, Social?

  1. Reciprocity is hard when it becomes a duty, rather than sincere. But dang, if I were to be involved with 17 tribes, I think I’d go crazy.

    Davina, you chose to stay out of Triberr, and I can’t say that’s a bad decision. There are plenty of other stuff to suck the time out of your day. And you have plenty of fans in any case.

    Wonderful read.
    Barrett Rossie recently posted..Marketing Your Startup Business: A Quick Guide

    1. Well that’s just it.. you have to decide if it’s ‘tribal obligation’ proforma or whatever you deem professional courtesy. There have been bloggers who’ve read and commented .. but it took a while before they wrote something on which I could comment intelligently. And I don’t always get to it, but I make an effort to notice: who’s commenting, who’s sharing, who’s linking. I’m not out here to ignore people, I’m genuinely trying to network, make connections and develop my biz.

      And even w/ my multitasking proclivities, WORD on the time suckage; always, always have to watch for that, focus and prioritize. FWIW.

  2. A very thorough and thought-provoking article Davina. It’s complicate isn’t it? You could literally write a post on each of these elements (and I probably have!!). I think all of these elements provide a lot of tension and misunderstanding on the web. For example, some new Twitter users are so enthusiastic to find me and connect with me that they regard me as their personal Twitter valet. The ask me questions every day, some of which simply cannot be answered in 140 characters — “Can you look at my business plan?”

    I have a hard time saying no because I do like to help people, but I do think you should take this post and develop it into an eBook or something — “The User’s Guide to the Social Web”

    FWIW : )
    Mark W Schaefer recently posted..Buttbook. A {growtoon}

    1. Heh.. we all get the very complicated ‘how do I run my business?’ questions and no, not like we’re gonna give out free biz plans on LinkedIn and Twitter.

      As for the User’s Guide.. it’s out there, post after post, if people bother to look I think people leap first, see Yahoo!News comments, see some of what passes on FB and think it’s the way. But it’s not really; so when this celeb starts tweeting in all caps, they learn it’s the wrong way. Think about blogging: will you allow keyword commenters, or require real names? how strick are your spam policies? So many things. Ok, maybe I could assemble a guide? 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, have yourself some great holidays.

  3. Hi Davina,

    The “social contract” question is indeed an interesting one. Perhaps, like any contract, it can be amended over time?

    With social, your mileage will always vary. I know that at different times I’m commenting on blogs more or less, or visible on Twitter more or less. Some of that is workflow, some of that is “life-flow.” I think people tend to get in trouble when they’re perceived as being open and building community — and then they switch gears, stop talking to most comers, and opt to hang in a closed circle of a self-defined a-list.

    By the way, looking forward to having drinks again in Atlanta in a couple of months.
    Daria Steigman recently posted..5 Lessons on Entrepreneurship from a Pop Artist

    1. It’s very fluid for sure, nothing hard and fast. But as part of the give and take, I just think that if ‘being responsive, active, open’ is part of your social makeup then you make it work. It’s part of mine, so I’ve opted to blog less often; which hopefully gives me the time I need to read, comment, respond, etc. And you’re right about the shift – I notice when it seems that circles and communities get closed.

      February is not far away, looking forward to it. Take care and Happy Holidays.

  4. I was just thinking about you yesterday and knew I needed a fix and a check in. Thanks for being the first to nudge me and bring me here!

    So, when I wrote the thanking Twitter followers, it was before I got into 17 tribes!!! All of that went out the darn window, and I’m back to scanning the stream for anyone who adds something a bit more thoughtful than an RT and I’ll do a bit of thanking.

    So, how’s biz? Got plans for 2013? I’m excited about the opportunities!
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..How Do You Listen?

    1. Well that’s part of it – recognizing the difference in autobot, feeds vs. genuine engagement. No big plans for next year, other than stepping up the works for bigger, better, more boffo client/career prospects. Best to you and yours! 🙂

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