Why do we need social media role models?

I wanted to briefly return to the issue of social media role models after the events following Corvida's very public 24 hours away from Twitter and FriendFeed. Once you get immersed in social media and social networking it becomes incredibly addictive and Corvida jokingly refers to Twitter as 'crack' and FriendFeed as 'weed'. She asks if perhaps we are putting too much peer pressure on our readers/friends/colleagues to get involved - go on, just try it!

A comment was left asking why it should be up to us to promote responsible use amongst others, that we are just shifting the blame on to the early adopters who get them involved, just like someone might blame a drug dealer for their own downfall after becoming an addict. Yes, everyone has their own opinion and can make their own choices but as Scoble says the early adopters "are the ones who drive [the change in] society".

I am all for the adoption of social media on a much wider scale than we have at present - being more connected means we can touch a wider audience and really break down the barriers to communication - but we shouldn't push it to the degree that other things suffer.

Social media is a fantastic way to make connections but it should not be forgotten that we are social animals and the best way to interact, wherever possible, is in person where we can build on our online relationships.

We may be driving the change in society but what road do we want to take it down?

Your take

Do we have a responsibility to others even though they can make their own choices?

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This is how business should be using social media.

As I mentioned, social media should not be about the hard sell but about outreach: creating a means for customers to interact with you in as simple a way as possible. A typical example happened to me earlier.

I have been thinking about the possiblility of an audio or video element to the blog for a while and felt that Utterz may be the way to go to see if either format worked for me. I duly created an account then called the UK Utterz phone number to record a test that would get automatically posted over to the blog.

I recorded a short piece of audio but on playing it back found that it was virtually incomprehensible - it sounded as though it had been re-sampled, shrinking the length and raising the pitch - a chipmunk with a stutter. Needless to say I deleted the item.

I imagined that it would have been a temporary glitch but, just in case Utterz was having an issue, I posted a message on Twitter asking if anyone had been experiencing problems.

A couple of hours later I received a reply from @chrishanaka who works in a customer service capacity at Utterz asking that I contact him so he could look into the problem. I mailed him the details and then received a response advising me that an engineer had dug the recording out of the trash and was looking at what could have happened.

How's that for service?

Without even having to approach Utterz directly they have been actively monitoring their brand online and have a presence in place to deal with this type of issue. Any company that deals with the public should be heading towards this type of model and converting a negative experience into a positive one.

For every business taking such a proactive approach there will be the competition struggling to build their reputation because they do not take this type of action. Some companies have to a degree been doing this for years by having 'unofficial' representatives hanging around forums that relate to their products but offering customer support using social media as an official channel is exactly the way things should be moving.

Thank you Chris and thank you Utterz.

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog