Several weeks ago I received an email from a friend sharing why he had chosen to be so active in social media. He gave me permission to reproduce it here. I like reading his posts for the reasons he outlines below. They are winsome, occasionally challenging, often amusing and they accomplish very well exactly what he proposes here…they make him highly approachable. This part of social media I get.
Good morning Alan,
Please keep these thoughts confidential (or at least leave my name out of it). You’ll see why at the end.
I noted in your most recent Commentary posting that you were “trying to figure this Facebook thing out.” It is certainly an interesting phenomenon. I know a lot of people that have tried to utilize it for ”business.” I think they are missing the point.
Despite the fact that I virtually never mention my business, the funeral home, or death-related stuff, I have taken a number of first calls, imminent arrangements, and preneed inquiries through my personal Facebook account’s Inbox. My key take-away, at least at the moment, is that people see me as a real person, accessible, with an affinity for others. I can virtually guarantee if I started pumping the funeral business, making “come to XYZ” comments, or other self-promotional posts, that folks on Facebook would avoid me like the plague.
The salon is full of folks that like to discuss politics, philosophy, economics, (and occasionally, against all social rules – religion), as well as other topics of the day. My friends list is full of all kinds of people: bikers, bankers, lawyers, legislators, ditch-diggers and waitresses, single moms and grandfathers, musicians and computer geeks. I have business contacts, national church leaders from my denomination, former parishioners and old high school friends. It’s a mish-mash really, just like real life. But in each case, these folks have people they love, people that will die, and people that they will need to entrust their loved ones to.
In a small town, everyone knows the funeral director. He or she goes to to the parties, attends the social events, sheds a tear with folks, and makes mistakes, just like everyone else. Political signs for the ”wrong” party/candidate/cause sometimes appear in his or her yard, while at other times the entire community benefits from the generosity of spirit that a small-town funeral director provides. People get buried or cremated, one way or another, whether they have any money or not. And life goes on.
Facebook has allowed me to present that image to my “friends” list. I am a real person. Some of these folks I barely know, or have not even met in person.
I recently did a funeral for a guy’s dad that I have argued politics with for the last two years. He supports single-payer health care, while I oppose it. During and after the services for his father, this gentleman posted the nicest most glowing comments about our services on his page, and to our company page. His daughter posted a touching picture of her young son, standing alone at the casket in our chapel. It was a beautiful and meaningful moment that transcended Facebook and electronic communication. It was real.
That’s what I am looking for with social media. And I think others are too.