Are social media first impressions accurate?

28 Oct

When does a real first impression happen if you meet someone through social media? When they friend or follow you? Or when you finally meet them?

Here’s why I ask: I was sitting down with a co-worker this week doing a review when I was alerted to the fact that someone was waiting to speak with me at reception.

I checked my calendar: no appointments.

I wasn’t familiar with the name so I excused myself from the meeting and went to see what was going on. The person waiting for me introduced himself as someone who follows me on Twitter. I recognized his name and asked him if we had an appointment that I’d perhaps forgotten to take note of. He told me we didn’t, but he was in the area and just had to drop by. He started chatting about social media but I excused myself to get back to my meeting.

This person made a good first impression by his social media participation, but the first face-to-face was poorly judged.

Being connected on Twitter is great, but don’t usual business protocols and courtesies still exist in this new social media world? I appreciate spontaneous gestures, but would you drop by a busy manager’s office unannounced and think this was a good way to introduce yourself?

“Never mind all that formality…we follow each other!” And there’s the rub. As with online dating, there’s often a chasm between perception and reality, especially when it comes to the depth of your connection.

(While I’m in the area, I also don’t recommend this spontaneous approach when applying for a job, getting your portfolio in front of me, selling your product or service, or asking for career advice. I’ve had one of each to deal with this month. Without so much as a piece of chocolate cake.)

That’s my WTF for today.

(Like the art at the top? It’s by El Rey and he has some more amazing stuff here.)


17 Responses to “Are social media first impressions accurate?”

  1. :]ack October 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Phew, I’m glad I left you that bag of crackerjacks ;]

  2. Janis La Couvée October 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Wow! I’m thinking really hard for examples outside the social media world – is Victoria such a relaxed city that people would find this acceptable, or is it simply due to the nature of our social media community?

    In real life I do know business people who welcome the “pop-by” but they are few and far between.

  3. Jody Beck October 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Speaking of cake, isn’t it/wasn’t it your birthday this week?

  4. margriet aasman October 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    I guess living in a smallish city makes me more flexible and accepting of the ‘drop-in’ looking for my attention. I think I might have committed the very same faux-pas when outside and not realized I was offending someone. Oh no! Perhaps this person was paying you a compliment, and in his eagerness stepped out of bounds.

  5. dougbrowncreative October 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    > I wanted to talk to you about those Jack. There was no prize inside the box. Best of luck. But for anyone else in Canada or the US looking for a fantastic copywriter, I can recommend Jack to you. Check him out here:

    > Janis the pop-by really only works for me when it’s my buds and it isn’t crazy busy. I like your point about this visit being due to the nature of the SM community here. That resonates with me.

    > It’s still not too late Jody. Murchies is halfway between us.

    > It’s good insight Margriet and I took it as friendly gesture and nothing else. It’s just that I’m aware many friendly gestures also come with an ulterior motive. 🙂

  6. andmerson October 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Now that you told people you want cake.. you are never going to get any! I was once an m&m for halloween and didn’t get one bag amongst the candy.

    It’s two different worlds and in my eyes and you need to build a relationship in both. Interaction in one world can surely help strengthen the bond in the other but it can’t replace it all together- You may be friends over cable but in the real world you are still strangers- act accordingly.

  7. dougbrowncreative October 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Andrea, I will hire you if you bring me cake. What? I already hired you? Frack.

    The rest of your comment I agree with, but grudgingly because you aren’t getting me any cake. Ever apparently. Ok, you’re fired.

  8. Steve October 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    “but don’t usual business protocols and courtesies still exist in this new social media world?”

    LOL your kidding right?

  9. dougbrowncreative October 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    I get the feeling from the comments here and others I’ve heard today Steve that they do exist, and people like that they do. After all, what’s it been since social media took off. Two years tops?

  10. Amy October 28, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    *cancels trip to Canada

    Seriously, I can’t believe that person did this. That seems very presumptuous to me. I mean, at least he could have tweeted that he would be in the area and would like to stop by. I would be kinda freaked out if someone I only knew through twitter showed up at my place of business. The two worlds are not equal.

    • dougbrowncreative October 28, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

      Yikes, I hope he doesn’t read the post and hunt me down in some alley. On the other hand – and trying to look at every angle here – Victoria, like Athens, is not a big place. Informality is more acceptable than in say, Atlanta or Vancouver. For which we are grateful. But our towns still have alleys…

  11. Eden October 29, 2010 at 3:32 am #

    “We follow each other!” is maybe a little less awkward if you’re meeting at an event… But even so, it’s a pretty cringe-worthy.

  12. politricky October 29, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    yeah, inspiring post. a good social media first impression doesn’t mean a good face to face impression

    • dougbrowncreative October 29, 2010 at 6:43 am #

      I know the rules are changing Politricky, and it’s understandable that some of the informality of social media would find its way out into the offline world. I guess at some stage you have to ask yourself if that’s always a good idea. Thanks for commenting on our blog.

  13. Renée Guidolin November 12, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I’m glad I read this entry. Since I arrived here a month ago I’ve been unsure of how to break into the job market. As a recent graduate, I’ve been told that I have to make the people I want to work for see my face. I feel “funny” about that, figuring that hey, if someone needs my services or wants to know me in general that there are other ways to make it happen a bit more naturally and with authenticity. Coming from Toronto and Montréal, my previous experience has been that I’m absolutely expected to be that aggressive. I’ve attempted that approach since I moved to Victoria, and somehow it just doesn’t feel right, for all the reasons Doug blogged about. I think Politricky summed it up succinctly as well.

  14. dougbrowncreative November 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    Every market has its unique quirks, but I think the idea of making an appointment before you show up is consistent to most Renee. It respects whether the person even wants to meet you in the first place. If every person who emailed me or called for an appointment simply showed up, I would end up hiding under my desk. Or wearing a fake nose and moustache like Mel Gibson.

  15. designingrenee November 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Absolutely. Common sense and courtesy prevails in most situations, one would think. The tricky thing about meeting people online through social media is that it can give a false sense of camaraderie. Since it’s all relatively new, there’s got to be a known etiquette for exactly the situation your blog post describes.

    Some people believe that simply showing up is gutsy and shows moxie. Others feel it’s intrusive. I’d rather have a gentle touch and be invited, and make myself known and approachable via less annoying methods.

    Mel Gibson wears a fake nose and moustache? Has it gotten that bad for him?


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