This I am taking a late lunch because around noon I had a call with a member of my leadership about social media. It's interesting that we had the conversation today, because yesterday, I had two "ah-ha" moments at a family dinner.
This first was my father telling me he got his google homepage and google reader set up. My dad got interested in blogs when I starting writing about Panorama on a personal blog in 2005. In the past year, he's started one for his sailing trips and another for his condo association. He's lately been asking me questions about feeds, so I sent him information about how to read blogs on feed.
The second was my uncle, an engineer in his sixties, saying that he hates email and as soon as he retires, he is shutting off his computer forever.
I asked him the question- "How do you plan on interacting with your grandchildren?".
While I am not discounting the value of more traditional forms of interaction, like letter writing, stopping in for coffee and picking up the phone, I do think you are more likely to communicate with people you'd like to communicate with if you use the avenue easy for them. I think its unrealistic to expect a generation of text messaging myspacers to write you long snail mail letters.
My husband and I rarely have stamps or envelopes around the house, and our address book goes obsolete at a rapid pace, but we always have a laptop at arm's reach. I may be in the middle of something when you call, but if you send me an email or comment on my Facebook status, I am sure to see it before I go to bed.
My grandmother lives in an assisted living facility, and many of us don't get there as much as we should. I am not excusing myself for not calling, visiting or writing enough, but to be quite honest, she's got a lot of free time on her hands, while I am juggling a full time job and two kids. When I came to that realization, I made the personal commitment to stay in tune with how younger generations keep in touch so that when I have lots of time on my hands, they hear from me.
I doubt my grandmother could have anticipated what computers could do for us socially, if she had a computer in her suite where she lives, she could see pictures of my kids posted fresh a few times a week on Flickr, keep tabs on my travels and work projects on Twitter and this blog, keep up with family stories and short videos on our family blog, and interact with her friends and family around the world on Facebook. She could play online bridge or scrabble, watch TV, download podcasts.... Endless possibilities.
Just one example of how Facebook has really enhanced my personal interactions: A few months ago, some of my cousins showed up on Facebook. While I don't live that far away from them, and I see them occasionally, I never know what they are up to. I typically get my news about them from my mom who gets it from my aunt. Since adding them as my friends on Facebook, I've learned about job changes, moves, new puppies, vacations, and kids. I've been able to see pictures of their kids, ask questions about what they are up to, make plans to meet. I went from always feeling like I "needed to see them more" to being plugged into their lives whenever the urge strikes.
Our interactions have greatly increased- and this breeds more opportunity for face to face interaction. I could see "is going down the shore this weekend" as a status message, and send a quick note "Awesome! Me too! Let's do the Zoo!" The best part is that I feel like I am getting to know them better than I ever have- it is hard to sit down and really talk when you are helping serve up macaroni salad and chasing kids at the family Christmas party. I now know so much more about their hobbies, what they do for fun, where they hang out and what they do at work.
Your thoughts? How about from a business perspective? Have Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, etc. gotten you in touch with the right people?