Social media & Social enterprise. Friend or Foe?

There are two thoughts rolling around in my head. The first is that in order to engage people in your business, you need to tell a story and that the sharing of emotion is a core part of that. The second is that the more we use social media, the harder it will become to tell stories and share emotions. Like, share and smiley’s are good ways of sharing information but bad ways of articulating emotions.

What does like mean?

No doubt you’ve seen the pictures on Facebook and other social media of the dentist who killed Cecil the lion or perhaps this family who shot an elephant while he was dining. Let me ask you the question … do any of you like the picture, like the fact that they shot the elephant, like the fact thatCollaborative economy Belgium the elephant was eating grass or like anything about it? I suspect not. I suspect that the emotions which come to mind are anger, shame, disgust etc… Nevertheless, there are 1000s of likes for lots of things on Facebook that nobody actually likes.

There was a funny situation not that long ago where a friend of mine gave a “thumbs up” on Linkedin for a guy “celebrating” a work anniversary. It turns out that he had been fired and simply hadn’t updated his profile. It would never had occurred to my friend to congratulate him had she not been solicited to do so via LinkedIn.

If my son comes home from school and tells me he “likes” a girl in his class, I’ll probably ask him what he likes about her as “like” isn’t very descriptive for anything. I’m concerned that in an era where sharing with others is increasingly important, we are regressing in terms of how we express ourselves.

I want to see my kids smile, not just see smiley’s 🙂

Why expressing ourselves and telling stories are important

Since leaving the world of big business where I led a comfortable life for 16 years, I’ve started to meet more and more people who are launching businesses designed to help other people, not just themselves. Whereas in the past, entrepreneurs made lots of money and then decided to do something useful with it (think of the Bill Gates, Warren Buffett’s of the world), now, many entrepreneurs, including myself are trying to do something useful which will end up making us money. We are still at the beginning of this transition which is why I cannot give you the names of any multi-billion dollar social entrepreneurs. Perhaps there never will be any as making billions isn’t what drives them.

The point is that to engage people in their cause, they tell stories, share emotions and explain why they do what they do. This inspires others and is a major driver in the growth of crowdfunding for example. Check out this film for a good story and dose of inspiration:

Social media is a key tool in helping spread the word, reach more people, engage them etc… but the key word here is “tool”.

The social media generation

I grew up in a typical rural Irish environment where expression of emotion was very taboo. The flip side is that the Irish have always been great story tellers and this has been an avenue of expression for centuries. The dilema I have is to what extent will kids of the social media generation, differentiate between the tool and the expression of emotions which they enable us to share. I haven’t researched it and would have thought that the likes of twitter, Facebook and the social media giants are spending plenty of time thinking about it. Nevertheless, I wanted to share it in this blog and see what you think about it?



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