Understanding the value mix of online media participation and face to face interaction is key to the success of the modern business and individual. There is a delicate balance needed between on-line efficiency and off-line effectiveness. New tools are created to make our work easier and to connect us to our stakeholders and communities (those-whom or that-which we need/desire in our lives). The ultimate challenge in today’s connected workplace and lifestyles is to find the perfect balance or mix. When not used effectively they achieve just the opposite of their intended purpose and priorities get re-arranged. Interacting with people whether face to face or online and sharing is how we learn and improve as individuals as well as organisations. In networks and face to face interactions we build the foundation for deeper connections and context for further interactions both online and off. In social media, we reinforce these relationships and are referred to others through authentic connections that further add value.

Three basic principles or “R”s should lead us to how and where we interact (REAL, RELEVANT and RESPECT). It is much harder to be someone you are not and it will catch up to you. Being authentic will earn trust, whereas getting caught being fake will ruin your reputation and those around you. Whether you are using social media to connect to your old friends, your remote colleagues, your employees or your clients or to meet or gain new ones, the quality of your interactions and their being in context to your audience and the arena are what count and resonate. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. In other words, constructive criticism is far more effective and it won’t come back to bite you later. These basic principles are core to face to face networking as well, and what creates the foundation for valued relationships.

Strategy needs to be considered on all levels. Participating in social media or face to face networks should not be limited to marketing. If used properly they impact product/service development, employee engagement and turnover, brand building, customer satisfaction and relations, business development and individual success. Ultimately there is a person with thoughts feeling and views of their own called a “user”. We feel engaged and become advocates when we learn about the things that impact us, we appreciate having our voice heard (and listened to), we appreciate respect and return it. We derive value from our interactions when the three R’s are observed. That value creates incentive for further interaction and referral.

Social media optimisation and social optimisation should go hand in hand when building lasting and strong relationships with our friends, our employees, our consumers, our investors and extended community of stakeholders in our lives and our businesses.

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