Title: Social media is more about the connections than the information and likes.

Author and Professor Deborah Tannen recently explained to Judy Woodruff on PBS that everyday talk and shares on social media isn’t about information we need to know. It’s about staying connected to the people we care about.

I think of social media as an extension of the how-was-your-day conversations that let you know someone cares about you, so you feel less alone in the world.

What someone is having for dinner, what beach they’re on with their family or a selfie with a friend, and the likes and comments that may follow aren’t necessarily important.

It’s the connections that ensue that are important.

Per Tannen,

Social media haven’t transformed human relations. They have intensified them. While that means ramping up some of the stresses and frailties of friendships, it also gives us new, more immediate, more creative ways to stay connected to the people we care about, who care about us.

I’d take it a step further. Social media give us the opportunity to meet, know, and care about those whom we’d never have met otherwise.

A week ago I talked with a lawyer friend across the country whom I met and got to know through social media. We talked about his wife’s serious illness. I felt good to be there for him. He told me it felt like talking to a brother.

Lawyers are often told by marketers to look at social media as a means of distribution — as a way to get more eyeballs on blog posts or other content authored by a lawyer. That’s totally missing the mark.

“Content” is a the currency of building relationships. Without words at a networking event and without content on social media, there’s no vehicle for us to communicate and engage.

But the words and how many people hear or see them are not the end goal. The end goal is relationships. Relationships with people you’d like to get to know and with whom you would like to know and trust you.

When I see Scott Mozarsky, the President of Bloomberg Law, share on Facebook things such as pictures of he and his son in Ranger’s Jerseys at a NHL playoff game, it’s the not the game nor the jerseys that interest me, it’s the connection and relationship I feel.

A relationship that results in Scott and I getting together at this week’s American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting in Austin.

When I see, Despina Kartson, the Global Director, Business Development and Communications, at Jones Day, on Facebook dropping her daughter at graduate school or Despina working with the disadvantaged in New York City, the information itself is not what is most important.

What’s important is getting to know Despina better, what she values in life and the enjoyment she receives in being with family and helping others.

I have talked to lawyers who say, “So what. Who cares what others do personally. Why would people share such items share on Facebook? Why would anyone care to look?”

But like Scott has shared with me more than once, “Business development isn’t all that hard, it’s about relationships with people.”

Social media, including Facebook, is just another way that Despina, Scott and I build relationships founded on knowing each other and trust, based in part by sharing personal events on social media — and in part by sharing professional items on social media.

Don’t be like the woman who complained to Tannen, “I don’t care what somebody had for dinner, all this stuff out there that nobody needs to know.”

It’ll be your loss, personally and professionally.

  • Well said Kevin. Social media and digital are all about relationships. It’s not complicated.

    • Social media really is not that complicated, Mitch. Unfortunately, our profession sees it as complicated and something that needs to be studied ad infinitum before deciding whether to use it.