It’s been said that if you ask five lawyers for their opinion, you’ll get at least six answers. Well, the same might be said for social networking except that behavioral preferences narrow the list to four likely responses.
So let’s take a little test: Facebook is approaching 500 million members. More than half of them check in daily, spending a total of 500 billion minutes per month on the site. Twitter now publishes nearly 45,000 “tweets” per minute. During the same minute, 24 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube. And let’s not forget LinkedIn, the professional networking site, where one new member joins every second.
What was your initial reaction to these statistics? Did you immediately wonder why people are wasting time on this nonsense? Or were you enthralled with the idea of turning complete strangers into your BFFs (best friends forever)? Did you feel overwhelmed by how rapidly things are changing or did you immediately fear for your privacy?
Despite the pervasive exuberance (or abhorrence) for connecting 24/7 with friends, fans, colleagues and even complete strangers, it’s apparent that not everyone is embracing social networking with unconditional love. There are many factors that might influence an individual’s decision to become engaged in social networking. But one of the most significant factors might be our behavioral style, often times simply called DISC.
Going back thousands of years, research has shown that people tend to react to problems, people, pace and procedures in four basic ways. Each of the DISC letters represents one particular behavioral style. While no style is good or bad, each one energizes or de-energizes us depending upon our own personal style.
What follows is a brief description of how an individual might react to social networking based on his or her behavioral style.
D(irect): Social networking is all about gaining market share and beating the pants off our competition. The change brought about by all this disruptive innovation, ambiguity and complexity — it’s the perfect environment for me to establish myself as the expert. I’ve got so much to tell people and Twitter is great. What more can I ask for — tell someone what I’m thinking in 140 characters or less!
I(nfluence): Woohoo! For me, social networking sites keep me on a 24/7 high. They are a dream come true. I know no strangers, just friends I haven’t met yet. I can now become friends with people all over the world. I feel like I’m at one continuous party. I love getting invitations to follow other people. That means other people find me interesting. It’s such a warm feeling knowing that I never have to feel alone again. I can say whatever is on my mind whenever I want and there is always someone who is ready and willing to talk.
S(teady): I’m overwhelmed. I opened accounts in Linkedin and Facebook, but I wasn’t sure what to do next. I got to the personal profile and felt uncomfortable sharing my birthday with complete strangers. How do I know that I can trust all these people who send me invitations? I’ve never even heard of many of them before. How much can I believe about the information people put on their profile? If I’m going to join a site, I’m going to start with just one and feel my way around. But I’m exhausted just thinking about getting started.
C(onscientious): I’m really squeamish about this whole thing. There’s just no research that any of these sites will ever last…and then what happens with all my information. Is it safe? You never can be too careful. Someone needs to prove to me that my privacy will be protected and that I can control who sees my profile. Only a fool would want to share their personal information with a complete stranger. I’ve got to study this more and evaluate the benefits vs. risk. If I do become a member, you can be assured I will keep my profile protected and only connect with people that I know and trust.