Monday, 7 September 2009

The changing face of quality communications

I've been thinking about evolving communication styles and preferences a lot recently. I have so many different ways to communicate with people now: face to face, phone, letter, text, IM, Skype, email, Twitter, Facebook... the list goes on. That's even before you add in other places I can share stuff whether that's here on my blog, photos on Flickr, KodakGallery, Posterous, videos on YouTube or Vimeo, or even just sound bites on AudioBoo (not that I've resorted to that yet).

I have some spaces that are deliberately open, me mini-casting to whoever cares to read or trip over my ramblings. I have some spaces that are closed networks with my musings only available to a limited number of dedicated or approved recipients.

I have some people that I only use a particularly communications method to stay in touch with. I have other people who I communicate with across a variety of platforms depending on context. Heavens, I even have some people I actually see or speak to, and others to whomI enjoy taking the time out to refill my fountain pen and actually write to! Such things seem old fashioned these days but at least you can express sentiment rather more easily in person or on the phone when a raise of the eyebrows or a hint of sarcasm can add depth to the words.

Sentiment is so often missed, or mis-construed in a world increasingly written-word centric. Mountains made out of molehills by the absence of a smiley. But is that a sarcastic smiley or just a happy smiley!? ;-)

What we are saying in all these different spaces is interesting too. Mundane mutterings. Self-promotion. Self-less sharing. There's a time and a place for all but frequently the lines are being blurred by time-pressure on our lives, and we start resorting to lowest common denominator behaviour. I can't be bothered to email x or y so I'll just stick out a broadcast post on my Facebook status. Fail. Facebook status posts are a useful tool in the repertoire but not a substitute for quality communication with your friends.

Years ago I was introduced to Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He introduced the notion of the emotional bank account. Some of your friends / colleagues / contacts make positive contributions and others definitely just keep on debit-ing. Friendship is a two way street, and there are times when inevitably you'll make debits but they need to be counter-balanced by credit from time to time too. Think about it. Credit in pennies from Facebook status updates broadcast to all. Credit in Pounds for genuine efforts made. Then relate that to your brand communications. Are you flooding your customers with overwhelming emails / texts / tweets? Are you providing them with interesting relevant and valuable information? Credit v debit is a fine balance, particularly in our relationships with brands where we are likely to be less tolerant than we are with our friends.

My friend Fran kindly sent me this link to an interesting article on Facebook Fatigue from the Wall Street Journal. Interesting stuff. It also reminded me of this video on Facebook etiquette that I found months ago. Tongue in cheek but it makes some good points.

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