Automated processes and the rest of the world.

Posted: January 3, 2009 in social media
Tags: , ,

I’ve found myself participating in conversations lately around the role of automation in social networks.  As everyday users of these technologies, we each seem to have our opinions about how much robotic behaviour we will tolerate.  Today, I took my head out of the sand for a moment while over on Facebook and took a look at an event invitation I had received for a friend’s going away party this evening.  I was trying to find out who was going to be there as well, but the vast majority of the invited guests haven’t even replied yet.  This may be a one off situation for other people, but I’ve seen it happen with a handful of events that my friends (and myself included) have organized via Facebook.  Today, I stopped and looked at this more often than not occurrence and I ask:  Why won’t people respond?

I have a few (very basic) theories in the works on this:

1.  I’m the only one in my offline social circle that’s really taken a hold of these tools (which is entirely possible) and it just doesn’t cross my friends’ minds to check out their Facebook pages for upcoming events (if that’s the case I have some serious work to do to bring them all around).

2.  It’s their silent protest to the impersonal, mass invite they’ve just received via Facebook.

3.  They just don’t care.

I would like to think that it’s the first option.  But there’s a little voice in my head telling me there may be  truth in the other two as well.  Especially in the second one.

I know the advantage for the organizer.  The ease at sending out those invitations with a couple of clicks of my mouse button and I get to sit back and wait for those responses to come rolling in.  Except that my friends don’t have an auto responder to accept my invite.  Tit for tat, no?

Online and offline, relationships are the most valuable tool you can possess.  Your relationships will take you places you didn’t know you could go.  But people can tell when the effort behind the relationship is half-assed.  This is something I was guilty of in 2008.  I thought these social networks were a great way to easily keep up with everyone (my parents even joined Facebook to try and keep track of me).  While this is true for the day to day and for people I would not normally keep track of, the relationships I value most have suffered because this is pretty much the only effort they gotten from me.  The event invitations I sent out on Facebook could have also at the very least been followed up with a phone call.  Seriously, these people are supposed to be important to me??

Honestly, I’m thankful for the conversations online like this that are making me think about where social media and social networking fit in my life for business and for personal use.  Either way, robots can’t convey a sense of value to our friends, customers, whomever we are interacting with.  The human follow up is required in most instances.  If you’re just half-assing it, why shouldn’t they?

  1. Two things – and they are contradictory – and support, well, all of your theories:

    1) Most people are not tech-savvy. That’s most people – as in 95%. I often include myself in this group because too much of this drives me insane, but the fact is that tech savvy folks simply cannot even fathom what most people are like. Further, they tend to think “if I only show them how cool this all is, they will follow.” Nope.

    2) Most people are slow, lazy or inconsiderate when it comes to online stuff. Things they’d never do in person seem to dominate online activities like responding to email. In a study in 2007 called “Infomania: Why we can’t afford to ignore it any longer,” just one of the tons of footnotes says, “31. PalmOne (2004) conducted a survey of large corporations in Europe where 61 percent of respondents say business decisions are delayed due to lack of e–mail response.”

    Here’s a link to that study – pages and pages –

    If you look at most blogs, most interactive sites, most party invitations – the lack of response dominates serious response.

    Here’s a suggestion – people have way too much good stuff, challenging stuff and heartbreaking stuff going on in their lives to spend as much time with their computers as corporations, web sites and many of us want them to.

    And, maybe that’s a good thing.

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