A Word on Forced Adoption

Last week my friend, Alex Rodriguez, wrote a great post about those who resist social media.  He warned of the perils that come with putting up walls.  He revisited the benefits that come with adoption of social media platforms and practices.   This was all good advice.  Indeed, I’m always impressed with the social media IQ Alex has built up as an early adopter.

Early adopter.  That’s a descriptor you hear a lot these days.    Actually, the whole idea of “adopting” social media got me thinking in a slightly different direction.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wholeheartedly support Alex’s thesis.  However, I also feel it’s good to remember that the world of social media really is a forced new reality for many people.   I believe the key word here is empathy.   Let me explain by going back to the adoption concept.

Let’s imagine for just a minute that your life is going along pretty well.  You’ve got a dog, a cat and a parakeet.   Aside from large veterinary bills, life is grand.  THIS is your family.  Now, all of a sudden, you receive a knock on the door.   You find a dark-suited government type at your threshold, carrying a wriggling, swaddled bundle.

“Good day.  My name is Mandy Torrey.” Says the stranger. “I’m with the Global Enforced Adoption Agency.  Congratulations! I’ve got your new baby. Here you go.”

“I don’t want a baby!” You protest as Baby X is shoved into your arms.

“Which part of Enforced don’t you get?  If you don’t take the baby, I can promise you dire consequences.  However, if you accept the baby, imagine the joy you’ll have as you take advantage of all that forced adoption has to offer.  Why, just think of the many new forced-adoptive parents you’ll meet at Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties!  You’ll have a whole new social life!”

True, the new life that’s being thrust upon you could end up being much richer than the one you’ve known.  Unfortunately, because you’re new to the whole adoption thing, your eyes haven’t adjusted to all these awesome possibilities.  Instead of seeing all the wonder, what you see is something like this:

“The funny thing is…” Mandy Torrey says on her way out.  “…some day you’ll thank me!”

Perhaps.  But, for now, neither you, nor the dog, nor the cat, nor the parakeet are very happy.

The point is there are still a tremendous number of people who functioned at very high levels prior to the advent of social media (at least what we currently call social media).  Some of them have also been around long enough to see fads come and go, bubbles rise and pop, and booms go bust.  It’s only natural that they bring a little caution and moderation to issues of adoption, especially forced adoption.

Those of us who eagerly embrace all the possibilities of social media have a great message to share with others.  However, if in sharing that message we fail to heed the concerns of the people we’re serving and collaborating with, then it is we, not they, who might be moving in the wrong direction.

I believe it always comes back to people- their hopes, their concerns, and their goals.  Whether it’s on the client level or in interpersonal communications, social media is a tool that serves us, not the other way around.  I think that, so long as we maintain a sense of empathy, just about anyone can be convinced, not merely of the value of social media, but of their own potential within this evolving flux of new platforms and methods of engagement.   Some people will just need a little more time than others.  After all, good things should never feel forced, especially when it comes to something as important as adoption!

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5 Comments to “A Word on Forced Adoption”

  • A great piece! Loved the picture!

  • Couldn't agree more!

  • After reading, I'm not sure if you're referring to adoption by businesses or by individuals (or both).

    If it's by businesses, then I would respectfully disagree, and insert my 3 reasons as arguments (thanks for the link, btw :) ). Of course, I'm well aware not all business are fit to benefit from all social media opportunities, but these thoughts should at least be considered.

    If it's by individuals, I think you have a point in regards to empathy… However, I don't see any businesses involved in SM trying to recruit more people into FB and Twitter and whatnot. I perceive it's well understood that businesses get involved in those spaces to "work" with those who are already there, and most are well aware of their limitations and efficiencies.

    It could be compared to asking people to begin using the internet (there are still people who don't these days, unbelievable as that may seem) so they can consume one's web marketing. Do we see businesses doing such a thing? Of course not. It's well understood that said media is utilized to reach those who are already in that space.

    Just this morning I read this: Two Thirds of Web Users to Visit Social Networks in 2014

    Another article: Social Media Adoption Now Over 80% (from August '09)

    Don't get me wrong, I do see your point in having empathy towards non-adopters, but I think business' goal in SM (one which is sometimes overlooked) is that this is a means to offer more value to the customer, and not at all a place to just bombard with more advertisement. I believe a consumer would be more attracted to adopt and follow a brand if they see a personal benefit in doing so.

    Sorry about the long comment. And btw, freaky pic dude.

  • Good discussion Alex! As the post spring-boarded off yours then, yes, the subject is business. I believe I stated firm support for your thesis, so not sure there's actually room for disagreement there. The subject is our tone in how we inform others, rally them and bring them to the table. If we understand and respect the anxieties of others then we'll do a better job in getting past the initial hurdles – making way for effectively communicating all the exciting possibilities for growth within the social media realm. Pic kinda worked with the analogy. Sorry it freaked you out!

  • [...] Gary wrote about forced adoption about a week ago, this post isn’t going to be about that, but it is about adoption. I just like referencing Gary because it’s fun. [...]

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