From Socially Awkward to Social Alpha

Recently, I blogged about Nikon’s socially awkward moment. Today, I make a confession: I myself am socially awkward. I’ve been very introverted for the most part of my life, but in my constant quest for self-improvement, I realized that I needed to become better at relating with people. So for the last 5 years, I’ve been working on my social skills—and trust me, it is not easy work. On some days, after the exhaustion of keeping conversations going long after my introversion kicks in, I start to feel like it’s a lost cause. “This is hopeless,” I say to myself. “You just can’t change who you are.”

But wait—you apparently can, to some extent. Remember how my previous blog introduced Brad Geiser’s concept of organizations moving from the commercial to the social sphere? Well last Saturday, we had the honor of having Ms. Janette Toral (digital entrepreneur, experienced consultant, researcher, and speaker extraordinaire) of Digital Filipino talk to our class about the fundamentals of e-commerce. It was one of the most informative and inspiring talks I’ve heard in a while, and among many other useful things, she talked about Brad’s concept of the social alpha—people who naturally excel at forming communities of people around themselves.

In Ms. Janette’s interview with Brad, he talks about how most business models in the Philippines are based on the social alpha model, and how children of social alphas who aren’t like them (social betas) find it hard to sustain their parents’ business. His insights can also be applicable to anyone who wasn’t born a social alpha—and there are a lot of us, because alphas are rare.

We musn’t lose hope though. In the video, Brad discusses how businesses or brands can emulate social alpha behavior through social media. First, they must learn some key behaviors of alphas. Facebook contests and savvy updates might work well, but those aren’t social actions. In the social alpha sense, the internet is not just media; not just a communication tool: it’s a way of managing relationships with the people around you. Before they can be invited to events,or enticed with promos, brands first have to form relationships with their customers. It can be as simple as greeting people happy birthday. The idea of being a social alpha is caring about other people, which is why we can’t help but like them for it.

I agree that this kind of behavior works in the Philippines. We’re not one to compartmentalize work and our social lives. We might have a saying that goes trabaho lang, walang personalan, but we can’t help but be personally affected, even in tiny ways.Our relationships with people influence how we work with them, or if we’ll even work with them in the first place. Be a social alpha and everyone will love to work with you. Be a social jerk, on the other hand, and you’ll find that people are going out of their way to avoid you in both work and social settings.

So to the other socially awkward people and brands out there, we still have hope. At the end of the day, what matters reaching out to people and showing them that you sincerely care.

About rz fortajada
20, Student | Frustrated Rockstar | Part-time Ninja Turtle | Blogger

5 Responses to From Socially Awkward to Social Alpha

  1. Hi, fellow socially awkward person. HAHA! Joke lang. You’re probably not as awkward as you think you are. 😉

    Anyway, I like the idea of being the social alpha. It’s about brands forming relationships with the customers. I do believe that this will work in our country where people easily create meaningful relationships with each other. We’re just that sort of people – friendly, loyal and all that. Once a brand gets the kiliti of the customers, it’s a homerun. However, it’s not that easy. Saying that you care for people is different from showing you care for them. Brands must tread carefully.

    Too bad I wasn’t able to attend the seminar. I could have probably picked up a bunch of other stuff there.

    • rz fortajada says:

      Haha, thank you, that’s comforting to know. :)) I’m just not used to interacting with a lot of people all the time, but because we’re OrCom and I (we) want to be in PR, it’s something we’ll get used to and be good at.

      Sayang nga, the speakers were very good. I wanted to attend the afternoon session but there’s this class… (Hahaha. Anyway. 😉 )

  2. Great insight Rz. You are not alone in your social alpha quest. I suggest participating in activities online to help you further. 🙂

    • rz fortajada says:

      Thank you Ms. Janette! I was very inspired by your whole talk, but I chose to focus on this particular topic because it was closest to me, personally. 🙂

      I’ll take your advice and start participating in online promotions and projects. I used to think they weren’t very significant, but you made a good point of making them a learning experience. 🙂

  3. Brian says:

    Now I really regret not attending the morning class. 😦 This is the first time that I heard of the concept of social alphas being applied to brands. I hope that I could attend a similar talk in the future. 🙂

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