Are you living in a village or a rather small town (rated at Western standards, excluding “villages” with 100.000 inhabitants)?
Is your neighbourhood a family-area where people greet each other when they meet on the street?
Does the TV-known Wisteria Lane in Fairview look and feel like where you live (maybe with fewer desperate housewives)?
Do you have close relations to most of your neighbours in your apartment building?
Do you spend weekends or vacations in your house or apartment out of the city?
Or did you at least grow up on the countryside?
You replied YES to one or more of the questions? Congratulations – you are a Social Media expert!
Social Media as it is called today, has actually existed for centuries, probably even longer. People are social by nature and they need to be in contact with others and share news, views, sorrows and joy. And they do it by meeting-up, talking, celebrating, asking questions, helping each other etc. The only thing that has changed over time, are the instruments we use. And they lead to a larger geographical reach and often to a much higher speed.
Let’s have a look at how people live in a village or a small town:
- Usually people know each other, at least by sight. And if you do not know someone, one of your friends, colleagues, family members etc. does. It is common that people talk about other people, especially if they are not present…
- When someone new moves into town, there is a natural distance in the beginning. The long-time residents watch the newcomers and try to find out stuff about them. As a newcomer, if you do not actively try to bond, it can be tough to find friends. In case you decide to stay separate, they will let you, yet they will find it weird and think you have something to hide. The best way to be accepted is to become friends with a few and show your support as well as interest. This will do and suddenly you are part of the crowd.
- If you want to know the latest gossip or whatever is going on in the village, you know where to turn to: Ask people who meet a lot of others each day such as the local shop owner, the letter man or the doctor. Go to places where you can listen to others talking like the hairdresser or the pub. Join clubs, associations or churches and attend regular meetings.
- Local newspapers exist to inform you about the things you can talk about at the hairdresser, the waiting room at the doctor’s or the pub. Make sure you read at least the headlines, screen the photos for familiar faces and, most importantly, read the death notices.
- If there are events, you need to go there and show face. This is particularly vital if you are a business owner or you fill a public position such as spokes person of the tennis club etc. Even funerals are events that need to be taken seriously in small communities. It is about seeing and being seen.
- Whatever you do – someone will watch you: Whether you come home late at night and hit a pillar with your car or your daughter has decided to get a tattoo – be sure someone will know and might talk about it.
- Possessions are shared with a simple system: if your lawnmower is broken, your neighbour will lend you his. Since he actually has used your drilling machine for the last 6 weeks, as he is refurbishing the garage, it is a perfect exchange.
- It is pretty normal, even expected, that people help and support each other for free. So, this neighbour of yours who is working in his garage every Saturday is glad if you join him to give him a hand. And your friend from across the street will be happy to pick-up your daughter from school every other day together with her own kids.
- If you are invited to a private party, you do bring along food, beverages or a gift. You might do this even if you hosted the same people a week before, since they did carry a cake when they came!
- You need to find a reliable mechanic, a new dentist, or a good travel agent? Chances are that your son’s best friend’s father owns a garage and will be happy to help you. Or you happen to sing with the wife of the dentist in the choir. Or the colleague of your husband just told him about this new agency that opened up in the next town. All you need to do is to ask and to listen.
- Whenever someone helps you out, you will make sure that you thank her and pay back the favour as soon as there is a chance. There is no need for a bookkeeping system, it just is a natural way which everyone applies and agrees to. Parents usually make sure that their children learn this in the early years. They know that they are never going to forget it.
After all, living in a relatively small community means being friendly, open and attentive. Treat people with respect and avoid situations in public that become too personal or awkward. It will cost you lots of time and hard work to clean up the mess.
Does this all sound familiar to you? Do you relate to this social way of living? Do you agree that Social Media is just as simple (or complicated) as living in a small town? What is your impression of people using Social Media? Do they know what they do? How do you use Social Media? Feel free to join the discussion and share your views in the comments. Thank you.
If you are intersted in the marketing-side of Social Media and how business owners in small towns have used it for a very long time, without ever joining Facebook or Twitter, this is your source.