September 4, 2013
Social Media Is Not A Substitute For Contact Information
As a freelance reporter I talk to a lot of companies and I’ve begun to notice a disturbing trend – companies that think that Twitter and Facebook information is an acceptable form of “contact information.” Recently I needed to talk to a company that had launched a Kickstarter campaign. It was unsuccessful and their funding goals were not met.
I am going to go out on a limb and say I wasn’t exactly surprised. It wasn’t that their product, which I won’t disclose, wasn’t a good idea. It was likely because they were darn hard to contact.
You can contact companies through the crowd funding site, but they didn’t respond. So, I took matters a step further and tried to reach them via their website. For contact information they noted Google+, Facebook and Twitter. In what universe is this acceptable if you want people to contact you?
Maybe some of these startups want to control the message, and maybe they don’t want to be bothered, but on the other side of the equation what are would-be investors to do? What are members of the media to do?
The truth is that I’ve moved on, and I’ll reach out to another company for my story. As a matter of fact, I’ve reached other companies; you know, the ones that have a phone number, email address and even (dare I say) a mailing address. Maybe these seem like old school methods of communication, but surprise, surprise these still work.
Perhaps after a failed campaign the company’s founders are regrouping, have gone into a quiet mode or aren’t responding to my attempts to reach them.
However, this example is hardly the first time I’ve come across companies and even individuals that seem to think comments on a blog, and tweets are somehow the new way that communication should occur. I hate to have to try to “connect” with someone on LinkedIn, or follow them on Twitter to start to a dialog. I’ll do those things, but I draw the line at “friending” someone on Facebook.
I don’t think it is necessary to “friend” a stranger for a story. That borders on the surreal.
The question to ask is why is, it somehow easier to communicate through social media. When I do try to contact someone in Facebook, I note their response is via an email, which often makes me wonder… wouldn’t email have been easier in the first place? Email is, after all, a push and receive technology. I often don’t have to “do anything” to get an email.
Using social media does require an extra step, and for those with startups or other ventures there is no reason to make it difficult to reached.
There is the argument that social media, such as through Twitter or Facebook can be akin to an instant message, but only to a point. The question is why those who rely on this feel the need to disregard email.
Perhaps there is the need to cut down on the options to be contacted, but it does all remind me of that notion that popular restaurants – the ones that take reservations eons in advance – don’t need to list the phone number or even publish the address. This exclusivity only serves to make that “hot spot” all the hotter, the more desirable.
For startups, this isn’t the case. In fact, it can just make it hard to be reached!
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