Saturday, 9 February 2013

Can you get too involved...?

I write a lot about engaging on social media and getting to know the people that follow you. It has huge benefits if you're a business and is also enjoyable, which is a real bonus. A recent event has made me think about whether it's possible to get too emotionally involved.

Let me explain...

I run a Twitter feed for a company that produces the most beautiful products. (I may be a little biased!) It's really a pleasure to engage with their followers. They're a warm, funny and caring bunch. I've grown very fond of them over the last year or so. Yes, there's been a demonstrable business benefit for my client but that doesn't preclude the fact that I've been thoroughly enjoying representing them.

Something happened to one of the followers a week or so ago. It was the most awful, gut wrenching and dreadful tragedy. (No, I'm not going to feed the ghoulish and explain. The person concerned already has enough to cope with.) Acting on behalf of the client I sent an appropriate message. The other followers of this person rose to the occasion magnificently and are continuing their support.

What caught me unaware was how personally invested in the account I had become. Not just for the business aspect, but that I have become genuinely attached to the people I was talking to. I found myself lying awake in the small hours of the morning wondering what else I could have done. I'll also admit to crying over the situation the person is dealing with.

Once the initial emotional reaction passed I started to think about whether my reaction was appropriate or, indeed, warranted. After all, I was communicating with this person online as a representative of another company. Should I have tried to keep more emotional "distance"?

My conclusion is that the enjoyment (and the business benefits) of engaging with people, whether as myself or as another company, comes with getting to know them as people. That's the key word here I think - they're people, not remote avatars. As with any relationship, the ride is not always smooth and the bumps that come with it are part of the package.

I suspect I get more emotionally invested than some other consultants in my client's businesses and in their social media. I get great results and I have an enjoyable time doing it. The balance to that is when one of the people I talk to hits an almighty rock on their journey. I can't "not feel"for their pain.

So, am I too involved? What do you think?