Can Social Media Build Real Life Relationships That Will Make You Happy?

Wonder how social media builds real life relationships?

Instead of lurking, participate on social media.

Even better, unlike school, you don’t need to raise your hand before you contribute.

At its core,
social media is about human conversations.

Even if you’re an introvert, you can do this!

Start with people you know and move to people you don’t know.

Don’t let divisive talk and FOMO hold you back.

Over time, people I connected with on social media have enriched my life.

My social media colleagues  have provided diverse insights and helped me  in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Even better, I’ve developed relationships that extended into real life and continue to add to my happiness.

5 Ways Social Media Builds Real Life Relationships

Social media builds real life relationships when you stop hiding behind your avatar. This allows you to discover other interests that you share with your social media connections.

As a result, you deepen your social media relationships when you become more than an avatar. 

Here are 5 ways social media builds real life relationships.

1. Requires being human.

Social media consists of conversations held in a human voice according to The Cluetrain ManifestoEven your business social media profiles are represented by real employees!

2. Offers a real time virtual water cooler.

As today’s always on and available platform, social media contains real life discussion in real time. Also, it helps you create and distribute communications. It encourages engagement for personal milestones and breaking news.

3. Is a great equalizer.

Anyone can participate on social media regardless of  age, sex,  location and/or life experience. Be inclusive on social media. Remember real people exist behind social media avatars.

4. Has a pay-it-forward mentality.

Contribute to  the greater community and help others first.

5. Provides community.

Use hashtags and groups to expand your network. For example, Content Marketing Institute’s Monina Wagner works to extend the Content Marketing World community beyond their conference and weekly Twitter Chat.

Social Media Build Real Life Relationships: #UsGuys Case Study

Back in late 2010, 140 character Twitter messages built the basis for real life relationships.

A diverse group of people who were testing how to use Twitter decided to keep their conversation going by using #UsGuys hashtag.

Instead of a weak collection of self-promoters or business partners, #UsGuys became a expansive, accepting social media tribe. Anyone could join the 24/7 conversation.

The only requirement:
Actively participate in a positive and generous way!

It connected people who worked alone in their home offices and others who worked in cubicles across time zones. Many members would stop by every morning to say “Hi” and chat.

As a trusting, supportive group, #UsGuys extended beyond Twitter into real life meetings in 2011 where members felt like old friends.

In August 2011, over twenty-five #UsGuys members got together in New York City for real life cocktails. Members came from as far away as New Hampshire, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to join the hug-filled photo-op gathering.

At these #UsGuy gatherings, I met colleagues like Peg Fitzpatrick, Ric Dragon, Brandie McCallum, Joseph Ruiz, Deb Weinstein and others.

The bottom line:
The #UsGuys group had trust and acceptance built up over months of Twitter exchanges.

The social media lesson for marketers:
Be human and participate on social media to build real life relationships that extend beyond the next sale.

social media builds real life relationships

#UsGuys connections remain active.

Social Media Builds Real Life Relationships: 3 Tactics

To get the most out of your social media relationships, follow these 3 tactics:

1. Take the social media interaction off of the platform

The key is to make the communication personal. While social media enables many-to-many communications, to develop a personal relationship you need a one-on-one conversation.  Use:

  • Messaging and/or chat (including Slack),
  • Email or text, and
  • Phone and video calls 

Actionable Social Media Tips

  • Send at least one personal message a day to connect with social media contacts. 
  • Comment on and share colleagues content. Everyone loves having their content shared and gets you noticed!

2. Meet in real life, where possible

Conferences and local meetings provide a great opportunity to connect with people that you know via social media. This ranks high in my reasons for attending key marketing conferences like MAICON19, Content Marketing World and MarketingProfsB2B.

Actionable Social Media Tips

  • Reach out to social media colleagues when you’re going to be in their city. This small effort reaps big rewards! For example in November we visited Bert Von Loon and Michiel Schoonhoven in Amsterdam.  Social Media Builds Real Life Relationships
  • Reach out to social media contacts  when they visit your hometown. My husband and I love rolling out the red carpet for our friends and colleagues! In April, we hosted a Marketing Salon to welcome Socially Sorted’s Donna Moritz to New York City. Marketing Salon April 2019


3. Share your real life relationships back on social media

After you engage with members of your social media community in real life, share your memories with your other colleagues and friends.

Post and share photos and videos on social media. I learned this when DIY Marketer’s Ivana Taylor visited me in NYC.Social media builds real life relationships


Or, even better, create an article or newsletter. For example, I always give colleagues who visit a shout out in the AMG Newsletter. In the May 13th AMG Newsletter, I spotlighted Pam Didner’s visit to NYC.

Social Media Builds Real Life Relationships

Pam Didner visits Heidi Cohen in NYC spotlighted in the AMG Newsletter.

BTW, I’d be thrilled if you signed up for the AMG Newsletter! Just click here.

While some may view this as FOMO, I don’t and here’s why:
I share my photographic memories to invite my social media community to join us, engage with us, and to expand our circle of relationships. 

Even better, these photos get my community engaged!

Actionable Social Media Tips

  • Share photos with people that you met in real life as a result of a social media connection! 
  • Get your social media connections to help you create content and then spotlight them!  For example Madalyn Sklar and Dennis Shiao did this. And these article resulted in active social media conversation!

    Reach out on social media one-to-one and engage!


Social Media Builds Real Life Relationships Conclusion

Social media platforms provide a powerful vehicle for developing engagement that become real life relationships.

So participate, be human, deepen these relationships by reaching out to individuals, and  spend time engaging in real life!

Don’t let social media’s negative voices hurt you or keep you from its positive benefits, namely social media engagement and community.

As people we need human contact and friendship. It helps us to stay healthy and thrive. 

So why not use every opportunity to expand your personal network.

Go on–It may just make you happier!

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 9, 2011. The inspiration for original iteration of this article grew out of my experiences with the members of the #UsGuys group on Twitter. Since members of my community feel the need for building real life connections continues, I decided to update it.

A Big Tip of my Hat to my #UsGuys friends. You have enhanced my social media  experience and many of you have become real life friends and colleagues.

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