Is Social Media the New Business Card?
Recently I reposted a blog article about how social media has replaced the business card.
Admittedly, I hadn’t really bothered to read the article properly; I’d simply skimmed over it and posted it for the engagement value. The idea, however, stuck in my mind. Is social media really the new business card?
I’m pretty sure the article was leading toward yes – but I have issue with that conclusion.
The Purpose of a Business Card
I think the answer to this debate begins (and ends) with the following question, “What is the primary purpose of a business card?”
Of course the answer almost everyone concedes is so that the card owner can provide the recipient with their contact information. And yes, while this observation is correct, it’s not really the primary purpose of a business card.
Yes, a business card has contact information on it – but who can honestly say that upon receipt, the business card is immediately entered into a database or address book for later retrieval? Who instead, much like me, drops it on top of a stack of other “to be entered” business cards only to never be filed and forgotten about forever? Or who simply chucks it straight into the bin?
How do you source someone's contact information?
If you ever needed to find someone’s contact details it’s unlikely that you would fish through your business card collection when you could easily search for them online through a company website or business directory. The only time you’d look for contact details on social media is if you were unable to locate them through a website or directory – and really, how often does that actually happen?
It would seem pointless, given the standard post-receipt actions of the recipient, for the business card owner to even bother handing it out in the first place!
This would seem the case, but the purpose of a business card is not to share contact information – no. Instead, its purpose is so that the owner can demonstrate to the recipient that they are important, legitimate and (as us Aussies say) fair-dinkum. It’s not a tool for fluffing ones ego (although it does, it most cases, do just that). It is purely a physical token that universally signifies the owner as a “genuine” business professional. It doesn’t matter what the recipient does with the business card once it’s in their possession – the simple act of accepting a business card is its purpose realised.
Business Cards vs Social Media
With this in mind, how does the purpose of a business card compare to the purpose of social media?
I’m sure we can agree that similarly, one of the outcomes of social media is to fluff one’s ego – but what about proving the “fair-dinkumness” of the owner? Is it an absolute indicator of success, of legitimacy?
As someone who provides social media management to clients, I certainly agree that a company with online “presence” on social media provides the perception of professional standing. BUT – only when it is paired with the engagement of a loyal and sizeable following. A company on twitter with 12 followers and a handful of tweets does not represent or depict the “fair-dinkumness” of a company. If anything, an unattended social media profile can be damaging to a company’s public perception.
Nothing says “I’m real and I’m serious” more than an old-fashioned business card. What would be your impression of a business person who said, “I don’t actually have a business card, but I’m on social media.”?
There’s your answer.