Communication is Not One Sided

Let me set the scene for you: a young man is getting ready to leave home for his first year in college, and his grandparents have sent him a check for $500 to help him purchase things to get started in this new phase of his life.

FATHER:  “Take the check to the bank today and cash it so we have the cash to purchase your stuff. Cool?”

SON:  “Sure thing, pops.”

Thirty minutes later, the father is beavering away at work when his phone rings: it’s his son.

FATHER:  “What’s up?”

SON:  “I went to the bank to deposit the check like you told me to do, but the ATM will only give me $300.”

FATHER:  (Half laughing, half perturbed)  “That’s why I told you to CASH the check at the bank.”

SON:  “But that’s exactly what I did, dad.”

FATHER:  “No, you didn’t.  When you CASH a check, you go INSIDE the bank and interact with a live person called a teller.  There, they’ll give you the FULL amount of the check.  An ATM will limit you to $300 regardless of the amount you deposit.”

Both were speaking English, but they certainly didn’t understand one another.  This calls to mind a quote that has been attributed to both Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw: “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”  Or, for those of us who prefer to be less literary and more pop culture, there’s the line from the Pink Floyd song that goes, “Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

For those of us who use social media as a means to generate business, this simple example could well be a cautionary tale.  In other words, are we REALLY communicating with those people we hope to attract and encourage to do business with us?  Remember, for communication to take place, it has to allow people to respond.

Whether you’re a real estate agent or a mortgage lender, more than your handle (@gr8realest8 or @urfavlender) has to let people know what you do –and people need to know how they can reach you. Day after day, I come across Instagram accounts that have one of those nifty handles and a short headline that reads “I’ll help you buy a house” (or something equally trite), but there’s no substance.  These feeds only contain photos of all the gluten-free food they eat, videos of them doing 739 pushups, and images of the puppy they just adopted/rescued.  They feature nothing that would/should compel someone to entrust themselves to the account owner for purchasing a home.  I see just as many feeds where the account owner posts a bajillionphotos of houses for sale, houses they just sold, and them with their clients at the title company –all good –but nowhere in their collection of photos or anyplace else in their feed is a phone number that someone could use to CALL THEM.  News flash: there are a lot of people who like to talk to another human being.

In order to have an effective social media presence, you don’t need cutting-edge technology or professional-grade photography. You simply need to let people know what you do, why they should call you, and how they can reach you.  You just need to encourage human interaction – that’s why it’s called SOCIAL media. Because he chose not to communicate with a human being, the young man who deposited his check at the ATM robbed himself of 40% of his good fortune.  How much are you robbing yourself with ineffective social media?

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