While talking about the Social Media Press release yesterday I mused about the need for real-time communications to be included in the system.
Actually the call is for a much broader inclusion of person to person or person to group communication in Internet services – direct discussion between people using a site and between users and the posters of content. Talk.
One of the things all sites do is to attract people who share a common interest. From time immemorial this has formed the basis for personal discussion and connection. It is how we meet other people – through a shared activity.
The internet has introduced a new type of shared activity that mimics its predecessors –while removing the requirement for temporal or spatial connection. In doing so it has both enriched some aspects of our social lives while leaving others unsatisfied.
It is hard not to believe the rise of services like Twitter and newsfeeds on social networks from FaceBook to Linkedin, which send out a stream of deeply human but typically mundane activities, is not a reaction to an unmet desire to connect around the ordinary activities that consume most of our lives.
For myself I cannot stand in line at a store, or contemplate some types of purchase without engaging in discussion with those around me. And it’s not just me who relishes in chance encounters. On the radio this morning a store owner was recounting how his store grew out of his interest to share his knowledge with customers. One of the things he regretted with the Internet store that remains was his business was reduced to availability and price.
It doesn’t need to be like this – the ability to personally connect either with individual users or connect users with each other is both easy and cheap. More importantly it provides a means to develop the rich personal connection between people that real time voice allows.
One easy way to start is to consider adding conferencing as a regular activity related to your site. Check out Iotum’s free conference service as an example of one service to speak to multiple site users simultaneously. Use it to educate, understand, or to explore a specific topics and tangents. It reintroduces the personal onto your site.
Want more continuous connection? Add click to call buttons – but if you’re a small organization consider integrating with find-me applications so you’re not tethered to a desk. This is a great way to add value – especially if the goods, service or cause the site is dedicated to are based on something unique where sharing insights and discussion enriches everyone.
In time I love to see infrastructure that would notify me that other users were on the same page I was – and if they were open to a spontaneous discussion. Of course in this scenario Web shopping can again become the shared activity around which people meet which it is for many in the physical world.
In the end adding voice to an Internet site re-introduces temporal connection to the relationships they build – making them more concrete and meaningful.