Why Social Media is Like a Handshake

The humble handshake has been the greeting of choice for many for centuries. As a way of introducing yourself it is pretty flawless. However, a poor handshake can be a very negative start to a relationship, this got me thinking, is a person’s first interaction with a company’s social media presence the online equivalent of a first handshake?

Nobody likes a weak handshake…

You know the type I mean? You thrust your hand forward, make eye contact and are ready for a nice strong introduction to the individual in question and before you know it, your hand is encased in a soft, weak grip that gives you little confidence in the owner of said hand. Its a poor start to a relationship and one that can be directly compared with a consumer being faced with a sub-standard social media presence. What would be the components of this weak handshake equivalent?

  • Poor branding – always make sure your platforms are customised with quality imagery, each key channel has various levels of customisation available
  • Being unresponsive – are your customers/prospects asking questions that are are going unanswered? Major turn off.
  • Lack of quality updates – a barren page with infrequent updates gives a poor impression, it makes your business look like it is there for the sake of it and it not taking things seriously. Try to be regular but of course maintain good quality and relevance

These are just a few pointers that could give your social media the equivalent of a feathery handshake (continued post image)

Too Hard! (credit - http://www.alexross.com/CJ084.html)

Don’t be too firm…
The polar opposite of the soft, fluffy handshake is the Incredible Hulk style finger crusher. This is probably more common among men, but squeezing too hard is just as bad as being soft. Don’t overstep the mark and leave a red imprint on the other person’s hand. Some things to look out for in order to avoid a marrow – mushing social media handshake:

  • Huge amounts of sales/promotional messages – yes, you can use social media to sell, but if that is your main aim you are barking up the wrong tree. If a person’s first view of you in a social sense is a screed of discounts and promotions, they are likely to run a mile. Too strong a handshake!
  • Too many updates – yes I said in the weak handshake section that a lack of updates is something to avoid, but a massive frequency is likely to overwhelm a social media user. This is especially true on Facebook, you are trying to enter people’s personal lives here, don’t be a pest!
  • Too many things going on – Taking Facebook as an example again, the flexibility that FB offers via apps is now pretty staggering. Be careful no to overdo it though, there are so many Facebook Pages out there with numerous apps running, creating a confusing experience for the user and potentially shifting their focus from your key Facebook aim

The perfect handshake…

Is a firm one, coupled with eye contact and a nice smile. Your social media blend should represent that with solid service (firm), an engaged approach (eye contact) and a nice tone of voice (smile).

Is my comparison with a handshake wide of the mark? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I love a good chat.
Mike

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About Mike McGrail

Mike McGrail is the owner of The Social Penguin Blog. He is the MD of Velocity Digital. He likes scotch and leather-bound books. Follow Mike's ramblings on Twitter. He also resides on Google Plus here.

  • http://www.openplus.co.uk/news/ecommerce-consultant Killian @ Open Plus

    Close enough to the mark I think. But perhaps I would substitute ‘Don’t be too firm…’ with ‘Let go at some point’! But then again, is this where the comparison runs out of steam? I suppose in a sense every business wants to be that person who never lets your hand go! Or do they?

    • http://www.thesocialpenguinblog.com Mike McGrail

      Hi Killian,

      I would say that all business want retained customers and social can be a good route to achieving that.
      M

      Sent from my iPad

  • http://www.facebook.com/craiggod Craig Godfrey

    I’m not sure if it’s the equivalent of the first handshake – normally I would have already formed some sort of opinion of a company which would prompt me to research a company via Social Media e.g. we’ve met before! – I know what your saying though! I suppose it depends on the individual and their motivation for using this platform. If I’m a brand advocate then a good Social Media experience can reinforce and even enhance my previous thoughts…If it’s a mediocre experience then I’m not necessarily put off as you and I both know not all businesses have embraced it yet or allocate enough resources to SM. If on the other hard I’m looking for a direct response and don’t get one then I’m likely to form negative opinions and I may voice them to my friends and perhaps further afield. Really interesting comparison but for me it’s not a formal handshake, it’s more of a house visit over a coffee. Great article Mike.

    • http://www.thesocialpenguinblog.com Mike McGrail

      Hi Craig

      Thanks for the comment! Some nice points there, I guess it is all down to individuals and their reactions to social media, many people are put off at the thought of dealing with a business on a social channel, however many people now form their opinions based upon that first interaction.