#SouthernMediaHospitality | Putting The Social Back In Online Networks

“Southern Hospitality”

is an all encompassing phrase. It says it all and for those who have experienced it, needs no explanation. But for those who have not and for you who have no idea what it takes to live out, here is a brief overview:

At a young age through some artificial social environment if not home grown, most people in the south, male and female learn certain rules of etiquette, hospitality and social graces. This is bread into the culture and happens at most levels of society to some degree. Society and civilization are all about social norms and mores.  It even determines our standards of mental health. But Southern Hospitality (SH) takes social norms to another level of chivalry and charity. You will always get offered a hot meal in certain areas of the South. You will always get greeted by strangers with a smile and maybe even a “Howdy y’all” depending on the area. When you are invited to dinner, you will eat plenty and won’t be allowed to lift a finger. Not only is this true of secular environments but even in the church there are classes on hospitality and servant-hood. Patio furniture, welcome mats and grills are staple items because folks intend on having company and them sitting a while.

Social Media Is Not A Trend

One of the biggest arguments from the traditional view is that technology is making people develop poor social skills. This should not be the case and perhaps is not if we are careful to focus our efforts to affect our online culture as much as offline. Technology is not going away nor is the Internet, or Social Media. These are simply new tools to better manage our Social Networks which we have been doing for decades via telephone and phone book; email, snail-mail and address book; and before that the pony express and wagon train. Psychologist and Researchers have discovered that artificial social environments can increase altruism in individuals.

What’s In It For You

Southern Hospitality has benefits for those who express and those who receive it. The guests or customers are well accommodated and therefore visit often and speak well of the family or company. The hosts or retail owner is well aware of who is in their midst, what their costs and resources are and avoids conflict and or loss/shrink. Even in brick and mortar businesses modern managers have learned that the number one way to increase sales and decrease loss is by providing excellent customer service and effective customer relationship management.

Give The Extra Cheese Free

Southern-media Hospitality is the online equivalent of SH. When the shop owner sets up shop and puts out the welcome mat, they are saying I am happy to have your business. They may even offer a free sample and sit and chat with local passer buys. As an online brand you must put the welcome mat out, offer a few samples and chat with visitors. As your business grows you must provide a way for customers to interact with your business to keep loyal customers interested, as well as to provide an opportunity for feedback and praise.

Not Rocket Science Just Good Manners

It is evident when you are used to the Southern Hospitality treatment and then you don’t get it. When you are in a store and are ignored or harassed. As well it is noticeable when you are online and users are not exercising their social graces. Like yelling at someone that you don’t know across a crowded room full of people the feeling that you get when someone mentions you in a tweet that has noting to do with you, or maybe it does but they aren’t even following you, gives you an uncomfortable feeling. It is not a good way to establish rapport. There are other common etiquette mistakes that people make on the computer as though they forgot there are actually humans on the receiving end. How about the business that sets up a profile to post ads and collect data, but never returns to the site to actually read the customer feedback or respond to questions.

You can read TSE’s Model of Engagement and Reciprocation for more details on how to be a better host, show hospitality and good online etiquette as well as why it’s important and how it can help grow your online influence.

*Speaker, founder of Better Me, Inc. (TXNL), and author of Living Sugar Free; Andrea Raquel writes about relationships and the psychology of social and business networking.
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