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Understanding Social Media: Just a Conversation


As with traditional conversations, social media relationships influence our decisions like choosing a doctor.

I struggle with understanding social media and I bet you do, too. I’d like to share this true story with you as a means to help you understand the power of social media. As it turns out, social media is nothing more than having a conversation.

Last week I flew to Miami to lecture. On the plane I met Matt B: He is, by trade, an audio technician, 28 years old, graduated from the University of Denver, works for a band named STS9, works for a second band, flies 200 days a year, used to have a roommate who kept four dogs, played two years of junior-level ice hockey, grew up in Boston and is presently living his passion(s). He loves music and traveling the world.

Matt and I shared the last row of the plane. He wore dark sunglasses with bright green temples. He had on knit hat and he was reading a book (an Italian dictionary, but we never got into that). I didn’t think we’d have much in common and it would be a long plane ride.

As it turns out, we struck up a conversation.

I learned he played junior hockey and walked on to the UD team. I have three kids that play travel hockey. And I understand the determination, hard work, and passion it takes to get good at this sport. I was impressed that this kid was passionate and a hard worker. I was so impressed that I later decided to look up his band. His passion and intensity was also evident when he described his job and love for STS9’s music. I bought a CD.

All from a conversation.

And that’s just one example of the power of social media. As with traditional conversations, social media relationships influence our decisions. And just as I bought a CD, our conversation could have just as easily been about choosing a doctor.

My conversation occurred on an airplane. It could have also happened at a cocktail party. But this easily could have occurred online via Facebook, Twitter, or another social platform, too. We all like to communicate. I am a heavy extrovert and have no problems striking up a conversation with anyone. I am not inhibited.

But it is not so easy for others to start a conversation. Most people, even doctors, are typical introverts. Introverts find “physical” face-to-face dialogue difficult to initiate.

Social media has exploded because it facilitates conversations. It has removed the stress and usual constraints and distractions of physical communication. Everyone can now engage. We can do it on our own time, in our own way and within our own comfort zone.

Was my conversation with Matt trivia? No. Think about the last time you met someone interesting to you. You had a conversation and went home and told your spouse something like “I met a patient today….”

Learn more about Randall Wong and our other contributing bloggers here.


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