When Social Media Gets Real

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A fascinating thing happened to me at an event I attended. Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive, spoke at Brandeis University about his book Switch. The event was sponsored by Comcast Business Class and Inc. Magazine (thanks!) and also featured Brian Halligan of Hubspot.

Naturally, I tweeted about it to make @jeffrsnbgh jealous (we’re both big Heath brothers fans).

That’s when things got interesting. The woman seated directly in front of me searched Twitter for tweets about the event on her iPad. I watched as she scrolled through the tweets, clicked on mine, then clicked on the link to my website. She skimmed the headline article and then clicked on the About page. My picture popped up and she read some text, then returned to Twitter. She had no idea I was seated behind her and could see everything she was doing.

During the next break, as we filed out of our rows toward the aisles, I introduced myself. She recognized me from my picture, we laughed about it, and then had a good conversation.

That encounter showed me 2 things:

  1. The world is full of randomness and serendipity. Randomness controls our lives much more than we like to admit. There are things we can do, like tweeting at a conference, that increase the probability we will have a random or serendipitous encounter. We can shape randomness with our actions (or lack of actions).
  2. Social media isn’t purely digital or merely a digital way to keep tabs on your analog friends. Social media can lead to real physical experiences and opportunities with people we didn’t already know.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous, please follow me on Twitter.

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  • Balaji November 22, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Nice to read your recent posts Derek; keep blogging

    • derek November 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks Balaji! I’m glad you’re still subscribed.

  • Jeff Rosenbaugh November 25, 2014 at 3:37 am

    This is too perfect! Thanks for the shout out, and I love that you approached your “stalker”. I’m certainly joking about the stalking, but I think it’s commendable that you said hi and had a conversation – too few people do that anymore.

    And yes, I am still jealous you were able to attend another Heath Brothers event.:)

    • derek November 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      I considered not saying anything, but thought the opportunity was too crazy to miss. She was a fairly outgoing person, so it wasn’t awkward at all.