I was having a conversation with a new friend of mine, Paul Baltes, about Social Interneting and we stumbled upon this thought. It’s been something that I’ve been trying to understand fully for a while, not the concept, but the interpretation. I call it the “Rule of One-to-One-to-Many-to-One”. Let’s try to understand.
Facebook is a great example of this phenomenon. Someone puts an activity on Facebook inside of their personal stream which they only have access to share (“One-to-One”). That stream gets posted for everyone to see who is connected to them, or, based upon security rights, the world (“One-to-Many”). This hopefully evokes responses from others to comment on the original activity (“One-to-One”). Which is usually publically visible to everybody (“One-to-Many”), but is generally thought of as a response back to original poster (“One-to-One”). And the circle continues.
The problem I have is when the “One-to-One” is mistaken by the “One-to-Many” or even worse, the “One-to-Many” infers something in the “One-to-One”. Because the “posted” world that we exist is a very public exposure (even if you only have 3 friends you are still exposed to those 3 people) we need to consider how this type of communication is received. Or at least implied …
If I’m going to post some stream of conscious thought out of my head to myself (“One-to-One”) I should realize that it will be seen by the “Many”, at least the “Many” who are listening to or care about what I’m doing. And worse, I don’t know who the “Many” could be because I never know who is listening at any given moment. Because I live online I am no longer able to call it the meanderings of a delusional mind. The “Many” will interpret their own meanings of my thoughts and diagnose accordingly. Is this important to the world? It all depends on how heavy you weigh the idea of inference.
Take a great example of positivity: Comcast. When Frank Eliason started utilizing Twitter the company had a poor reputation in customer service. So Frank decided to go to the Twitter community and try to help out. Questions got answered. People got helped. Customer Service was handed out in droves. Why? Because Frank, in serving a particular community, stumbled upon this “One-to-Many-to-One” phenomenon. A customer posed a problem to the cyber-ether (“One-to-One”), Frank listened to people complaining (“One-to-Many”), responded to the problem (“One-to-One”), and publically made it known that a problem could be resolved (“One-to-Many”). Each of us then interpreted that action in our own minds as good or bad (“One-to-One”). For the most part, the response of his actions made Comcast look like they cared about their customer base. And people started realizing if they wanted quick customer service they could jump online and talk to Frank. A win-win-win situation.
This is one angle overlooked by many people when we post things in cyberspace. It’s not just us sending something, but there is an interpretation of that something, which can lead into an active posting dialog. That dialog can be seen by many, many people which makes them internalize meanings whether they want to or not.
So why was Paul Baltes and I talking about this nonsense of a topic? Because we were talking about Social Media and some of things I see as items some Social Media experts overlook. There is power in knowing your audience interprets ideas from your “One-to-One” posts. And this power is great to use in a central strategy for your business.
Or … at the very least … it can help keep the name calling down to a minimum. You never know when your mom is going to be listening. :)