Saturday, 7 July 2012
Social media can be applied to all kinds of activities, including staying in touch with relatives, getting advice, and playing games. One type of application that is growing is the development of in-person relationships resulting from connections originally built exclusively on social media platforms. Building connections in person is incredibly important despite the rise of social media, according to Ed Keller and Brad Fay, co-authors of The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace.
Keller and Fay’s research uncovered that in the United States, 75% of conversations occur in person, with less than 10% occurring via social media. Their data also showed that, on average, in-person conversations are thought to be more credible, and often skew more positive than those conducted using social media.
Of course, it’s not always easy to manage the transition of a social media acquaintance into an in-person friendship. Here are a few tools that can help make that happen.
Lanyrd, a social conference directory, is a great way of finding out where your social media connections will be so that you can arrange to meet up. The site allows you to sign in with Twitter and then see Lanyrd’s list of suggested events you may be interested in. To help you build connections with your Twitter friends, there’s a “from contacts” tab that lets you see all of the events your contacts have said they’ll attend. A glance at this list will show you which events will be more conducive to making more in-person connections.
Next to each conference or event, Lanyrd offers two main buttons: “Attend,” to signify you’ll be in attendance, and “track,” to bookmark an event and keep tabs on it.
While it’s not too uncommon for a Twitter user to follow thousands of other users, social media practitioners tend to be more selective on LinkedIn and Facebook. Inviting a Twitter acquaintance to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook is often seen as a move towards a more formal relationship.
“I often ask fellow #LikeableChat participants to [join me on LinkedIn] after we chat. It solidifies the connection,” says Valerie Pritchard, a research coordinator and writer at social media marketing firm, Likeable.
For many, LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool for building and maintaining professional relationships, providing access to plenty of information about someone, such as shared alma maters, mutual connections, and similarities in work histories, leading to opportunities for bonding.
Banjo is one of the fastest growing mobile platforms used to maintain and develop in-person connections. In April, the service announced it had slightly more than 500,000 monthly active users, with total membership hitting 900,000.
Banjo can find your connections across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and it alerts you when your contacts are within a geographic interval of your choosing. This makes it incredibly easy to arrange spur-of-the-moment meetings with online acquaintances.
Banjo is also great if you’re planning a visit to a place where you don’t have many friends. You simply tell Banjo where you plan to be, and it will load a map indicating where your online friends (and other Banjo users) are in the vicinity.
Similar to Banjo, Sonar is a mobile app that lets you check in to physical locations and know when your social media contacts are at the same venue or nearby. One key feature of Sonar is letting you know when your friends’ friends are nearby as well, revealing connections you might not have otherwise made. With Sonar, it’s not uncommon to check in to a busy venue such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and find someone with four Facebook friends, two LinkedIn connections, and dozens of Twitter followers in common.
Sonar usage is particularly heavy in fields such as digital marketing and among communities such as parenting bloggers, in which people usually form strong connections online before ever meeting in real life. During conferences where these communities come together in person, Sonar is very useful in making sure users don’t miss the people they really want to meet.
Of course, going to a meetup is a great way to meet some of your online friends in real life. You can do this by setting up an account on Meetup.com, and linking it to your Facebook account so you can see where your friends will be. You can flesh out your profile with specific interests, which lets Meetup improve the meetups that it suggests to you, or you can simply search by keyword. Meetups are organized for all sorts of interests from politics to botany.
Of course, Meetup.com isn’t the only way to strengthen relationships made online. Google Groups is a very useful choice when it comes to organizing a tight-knit community and planning in-person meetings.
What’s your favorite way to turn your social media connections into actual in-person friends? Have your say in the comments below.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, IsaacLKoval