I had a powerful reminder of that last week which I'd like to share with you.
A couple of months ago, I blogged about my experience at a conference which many readers of my literary blog attended. My conclusion was that the human interaction was very helpful in assessing the effectiveness of my blog and served as an incredibly powerful motivator to keep up the work.
Even at work, while I find emails can spark an idea or conversation, I relish the opportunity to sit down in a conference room and bounce ideas around. It's this kind of process that helps me better understand others and develop strategies that can most effectively address their needs. When done right, it's exhilarating.
I've just caught up on my clogged up feedreader, and I uncovered Kathy Sierra's entry on Creating Passionate Users called Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video... which expounds on the very same subject. She writes that "face-to-face still matters," and concludes with my point from January:
The most underrated benefit of the face-to-face effect of conferences is INSPIRATION.
In addition to powerful inspiration and ideation, face-to-face social media meetups serve an equally important role: they solidify relationships. Turning digital relationships into real-life human relationships deepens the connection we feel with each other. Last week, I had the unique opportunity to test this theory. I had four Tweetups - that is, four meetings with people as arranged through Twitter. Three of them were with people I had only corresponded with on this much-hyped technology.
After each get-together (one phone call, two lunches, one after-work drink), I walked away from the conversation energized, inspired and reassured that there are others out there who are thinking about social media. It made me realize that through the hard work I've been doing on my blog, it pays off by being able to be part of a powerful social network and connect with people on a deeper level.
One of our clients is trying hard to build a "relationship marketing engine." They're concerned with customized content for each individual that enters the sales process. While they're largely ignoring social media, to their credit, they're concentrating a lot of effort on tradeshows and user conferences as a way to build those relationships. Where it will really pay off is with the more intimate settings, where the connection can really be made.
We're all overextended, overcommitted and crazy busy these days. But if we remember to put the social back in social media, we'll have a much richer experience.