Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 17, 2010 1:34 PM

The Audacity Of Asking

When you ask somebody to do something, it's always wise to consider whether or not you have the Social Capital to make the request.

Before you ask someone you hardly know to tweet out something for you on Twitter, Blog about something, or join your group on Facebook, you would be well advised to start out by reading two great business books, The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt and Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. These new Digital Marketing channels and Social Media platforms make it extremely easy to ask anybody to do anything, and because we're all intrinsically connected (and no one individual is more than a couple of pixels away from anybody else) many people are asking people do things that are over and above the social capital equity they have put into the relationship.

Think twice before asking somebody you hardly know to do anything.

The real world is the same as the online world. In fact, even making the false assumption that our social rules do not apply online is silly (and wrong). One of the better mantras to embrace when it comes to engaging with Social Media is: "just because you can, it doesn't mean that you should." Many people fail to realize that they simply don't have enough social capital built up with specific individuals to ask them to do anything, so when they do, the request falls on deaf (and inactive) ears. But, what follows is the wrong assumption that the person being asked to leverage their own social network for your benefit is not being very "social media."

It's not a closed network, but you do have to earn your trust to get into it.

Social Media is not an open network. It's a community. And, like any community, you have to earn your stripes within it. You have to make deposits into the community. You have to add value. You have to make yourself present, so that when you do have a request, the people being asked are proud and happy to help you in your initiative. They're not being snobbish. They're not being closed. They're simply saying to themselves, "who is this person to be asking me to put my reputation on the line around something that I hardly know anything about?"

About building that community...

On a recent episode of the audio Podcast, Media Hacks, we discussed community. The general sentiment that most of us brought forward was that you don't build community because you need it, you build community slowly, over a long period of time, so that when you do need something, it is there for you. It doesn't really work the other way around.

What's your take on being asked to leverage your social network (and personal branding reputation) from someone you hardly know or rarely interact with?

By Mitch Joel