Is social media making you a lazy communicator?

By Srinivas Rao, Contributing {grow} Columnist

We live in a world where people are in a real hurry.  Getting things done as efficiently and quickly as possible has become a calling card for humanity and it’s bleeding into our social interactions. This isn’t necessarily a good thing.  We’ve reduced our communication to the shortest possible route from point A to B.  It isn’t exactly a smart intimacy strategy for social media.  The technology that has enabled us to connect with people in a way we never could before has made us lazy communicators, maybe even lazy marketers.

Let’s look at the hierarchy of social communications — and their impact on REAL connection …


Social sharing is the lowest hanging fruit in building relationships because it’s so easy. With the push of a button you can share someone’s content. So it’s no surprise that somebody with 100,000 followers considers a tweet or social share a blip on their radar. When was the last time tweeting the blog post of somebody famous actually resulted in a real connection with that person?

“Thanks for the RT” is something every one of us has typed when somebody shares our content (myself included).  But consider this. That’s not starting a conversation. That’s ending it.  How many conversations do you end every single week?


In the hierarchy of value, comments outweigh social sharing. A well-constructed comment takes time and effort.  Let’s look at this outside the online world for a moment. How close are you to the friend who you talk to once a year for 5 minutes at a Christmas party? That takes no more effort than bumping into them, so you don’t really form a bond. When you comment on somebody’s blog regularly, it’s like going out of your way to meet with a good friend on a regular basis. You’re giving a gift!


One of my best friends doesn’t use social media. I started to feel like our friendship had suffered and that he didn’t value my friendship anymore.  We hadn’t spoken in months. One day I sent him an email and I got a response a few hours later.   Comments might be  easier to accomplish than sending somebody email because this requires initiating the communication.

Phone Calls

How often do you pick up the phone and talk to somebody? In his book Double Double, author Cameron Herold said that one of the best ways to get mainstream media attention for your blog or business is to pick up the phone and call a journalist because they are so used to receiving emails these days.  Digital communication has made us lazy and we often overlook what WORKS!

In-Person Visits

This is the pinnacle of putting effort into your relationships. One of my friends who is not a very well known blogger made it a point to use his frequent flier miles to visit every blogger he had talked to on Skype in person. He’s the kind of friend from the blogosphere I’d invite to my wedding.  He’s not that active on social media these days, but he invests effort in the relationships he’s built. If you met five bloggers you know in person you’d get more value than having 500,000 visit your blog in one day.

There is undoubtedly a hierarchy of value in social communication. If we intend to really get the most out of our social media efforts, I think we need to get back to putting real effort into our relationships, or at least some measure of balance in the way we communicate.  Have you become lazy when it comes to building relationships online? Does this make sense to you?

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did and his the host-co founder of BlogcastFM.  You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife


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  • Amy

    I’m so bad about “Thanks for the RT!” tweets. Thanks for the reminder that it’s the perfect time to continue the conversation instead of ending it.

  • Hey Amy,

    It’s funny because that occurred to me literally as I was typing it. In fact I think the best way to thank people is to say thanks and then ask them a question? That’s the start of a conversation 🙂

  • Srinivas,
    Comments on a blog are amazing.  There are certain blog communities like The Sales Lion where the comments are often more engaging than the post because you get so many intelligent people discussing their experiences…

    Great post buddy,

    Ryan H.

  • Srini, Geez. You’re everywhere. It’s hard to keep up to you. I feel like the “turtle” in the fable (but not true to the story ’cause I don’t necessarily think of you are the hare – just in context). Great post!

    My take on this is if you are giving your attention to something then you need to focus and share to the best of your ability. And with that ability try your best to offer some value. I agree with lazy communication bred from the “low hanging fruit” syndrome which is why I have difficutly understanding platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Maybe I’m just old.

    Blogs and even Google+ allow you to show interest and offer insight  through media (writing, photos, video, etc) even with commenting. Reaching out and developing REAL relationships is really where it’s at. I would love to fly around NA visiting some bloggers but alas it’s not in the cards right now BUT I am connecting with some local folks soon. So, yeah, keepin’ it real is huge to me too. After all, that’s really all there is.

    Later ‘gater.

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  • I absolutely love this post, and I’ve definitely made a concerted effort to try to comment more (see — I’m doing it now!) and to have more conversations with people rather than just the easy-to-do RT — that goes for personal and brand interactions.  And yes, we in the social world are very guilty of giving a quick “Thanks for the RT” tweet rather than having a conversation. I think we are lazy, but hopefully this wonderful post will change that. THANKS and great to connect! 

  • That is so true about phone calls – my 4 dearest oldest friends from childhood are not on social media and it’s more of an effort to keep in touch. One does not even have email. I cannot imagine that. Sometimes a phone call can make you feel more connected. I have met a blogger/friend on Twitter and we met in person – it makes it more special and we occasionally speak on the phone too. Strange to think how far we have come and yet more isolated in some was.

  • HEy Ryan, 

    The Sales Lion and Spin Sucks are two communities that the comments probably drive much of the content that gets created. It’s engagement at its best. Maybe we’ll have to get Marcus and Gini on a live chat or a dual interview to talk about this and how they’ve achieved it.  

  • Ralph

    That’s a big part of the reason why I actually slowed down content devleopment on the Skool of Life. I want to focus more on the book and only publish really good stuff there.   As far as visiting bloggers, I dont think you have to do that. I just think hitting the like button which some people don’t even do is lazy.  You are of course one of my most regular readers and commenters  and I always love what you bring to the conversations. Connecting with local folks is the perfect way to start. The other is just talking to people on skype. Hit me up sometime. Would love to learn more about your story. 

  • Great to connect with you too Nancy. The idea that “thanks for the RT”, ends a conversation occurred to me as I was writing the post and thought that would be like having somebody walk up to me and say “you look amazing” saying thanks and walking away. If a beautiful girl walked up to me and said that, I think it would be smart to continue the conversation 🙂

  • Lisa,

    No question about it. Makes me realize I did one thing wrong with this post. I should have included my skype handle.  Feel free to give me a shout anytime


  • I’ve said it before Srini and I’ll say it again – the best way to use social media is for the initial connection. The next and very important step is to take the communication out of social media.

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  • That sounds like a fantastic idea! I appreciate the time…

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  • Jenniefish

    Wow, you have encouraged me to make my first ever comment on a post! I’m just trying to learn about social media and devouring all the information I can. I was getting all excited when I actually got a ‘thanks for the RT’!! But now I realise I am really only on the first rung of the ladder! Great information, thanks for sharing!

  • I would love to go out and meet some of my online blogging friends. I think that’s going to be one of my goals to accomplish by the end of the year.

  • Same here –  most of my friends from further back (ie friends not in my industry – publishing has taken to social pretty quickly) are not very active on social and that can make it hard to keep up.

  • Thought provoking post Srini – thanks for writing it! I agree with some other commenters that social is often just the beginning of the conversation, or should be.  I am surprised though that when I thank someone for the RT or send a DM on Twitter, how infrequently people respond.  I think people could engage more on social platforms than they do as well as going old style with emails and calls.  And yes, love those blog comments – they make my day!!

  •  So true! “how far we have come and yet more isolated in some ways”

  • Robert, 
    I think we lose site of that. In fact I think I need to make a point to chat with people who take an interest in my work on Skype as quickly as possible.  

  • Glad you have joined the conversation. It’s much more interesting that way isn’t it. It’s funn how often we say “thanks for the RT” not realizing that we have killed a conversation.  Like I said either in the post or somewhere else in real life thats the equivalent of having somebody compliment you on what you’re wearing, saying thanks and walking a way. 

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  • Lauren

    This post brings up a very important concern. Many people think that just a birthday tweet or Facebook post is enough communication to sustain a relationship. Young people especially have forgotten the value of a hand-written note or phone call. Your hierarchy really displays how technology has allowed us to put progressively less effort into communication.

    Lauren Cuervo
    Platform Magazine

  • Andrew

    Some good points, Srinivas. I think we have become lazy and this laziness can also result in miscommunication. Look at how often we receive messages that are in ‘text speak’ that are difficult to understand.

  • I couldn’t agree more Srinivas.  Social media makes things really easy.  Too easy sometimes.  It’s for that reason I never send Facebook messages at Christmas, or e-cards are birthdays.  I think that at least twice a year you can take the time to crack out a pen and get your hands dirty so to speak.There’s something much more meaningful about it too.  And you can’t put a Facebook message on display in your livingroom afterall.

  • Claremcbrien

    You make a great point. I think many organisations have become so excited about social media and its various advantages that they have lost sight of the underlying reason for communication; building long term relationships. As you say, social media is great for sharing information and raising your organisations profile however, too many organisations are using it as their only relational tool. I completely agree that social media has made us lazy communicators. It is imperative that business’s don’t rely on twitter, facebook and other social media to communicate with their public but make the effort to use other methods of communication. Fostering good working relations with your public is a long, intricate process which demands interpersonal communication as well as online communication. 

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