Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Harrison Kratz, perhaps the most talented, aggressive, smart and socially minded person who can’t legally drink I’ve ever met. He’s a fire ball and has done more in just a few short years in the social media space than most people will in the next 10. He wanted to share something passionate with you. I think you’ll see why I said yes.

Okay, I’m only 20 years old and even I remember when community meant the people and places that surrounded you and where you lived. Here we are in 2011, and the idea of community has drastically changed. We now build communities online while fostering conversation for both business and personal purposes. And you know what? It’s awesome. Everyday I’m blown away by the potential we have to communicate on a global level and build a close-knit community at the same time.

That all being said, I’ve seen a disturbing trend among many that some people are trying to break and others fuel on a daily basis. Too often have I seen communities and relationships built online that stay online. Those communities and people are missing the point of social. They’re wrapped up in the tools and fail to realize what makes one social. Fortunately this can be fixed. Through an influx of social media conferences, tweet-ups, happy hours, and whatever else type of party you can think of, we now have the opportunity to get out there and put voices to tweets on a near daily basis. Add in Meetup and Plancast, and finding opportunities to connect in real life are virtually endless.

Our Meet-Up Crowd

Image by Jason Falls via Flickr

Yet for some reason, some people are still content on hiding behind the façade of social media and think that their community stays online. Its more than okay to not know everyone, but is there an excuse for constantly saying, “Oh I’ve tweeted with them” rather than “Yeah we met and shared a drink. It was awesome.” People don’t necessarily remember whom they have and have not tweeted. But I bet you they remember whom they’ve shared a REAL conversation with.

That’s what being social is all about – use the tools to build a network of people that you communicate with on a daily, then actually be social and activate your community. Meet them in real life … develop connections not just contacts.

For all of you that think your location prevents you from meeting others, I call bullshit. That’s the beauty of social; it’s not only in New York, Chicago, LA, and London. It’s everywhere! Just look at what Becky McCray and Jeff Pulver have been able to do with #140conf Small Town. This year’s conference is in Hutchinson, Kan. Need more proof that social media and its opportunities to connect are everywhere?

Hell, I drove 13 hours on a college student’s budget from Philadelphia to Indiana to speak at a conference for no pay, just so I could share a conversation with Jason, Jay Baer, Paula Berg, and other social media thought leaders. Yeah, I’d say it was worth it.

As we move forward and social media continues to grow we must not get caught up behind our devices and endlessly debate what network is better or what feature is the best thing since sliced bread. We must recognize the opportunities that these tools present to us and learn how to take advantage. It’s all about connection – If you are social offline and develop your real life connections, it won’t matter what you blog about or how many tweets you send. Your community and the conversation is happening and growing offline with or without you.

So, what are you waiting for? Get off your ass and go learn the real meaning of community and “social.” 

Harrison Kratz should be an undergrad at Temple University but is playing full-time hooky as the Social Media Coordinator at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina, and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.  Harrison is also a professional speaker who loves to sink his passion for social communication in every presentation. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, @KratzPR!

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.socialmediaphilanthropy.com Jeff Gibbard

    Harrison, I’m truly in awe of this post.  This is one of the most relevant and thoughtful posts I’ve seen in the blogosphere.  It’s only worth noting your age at times just to highlight how well you “get it,” especially when compared to some industry veterans that miss the big picture staring them in the face.  

    Great post my friend.  I’m adding this to my Favorites public notebook on Evernote, reserved for timeless classic posts. http://www.evernote.com/pub/jeffgibbard/favorite-articlesSo next question, when are you going to guest blog on Social Media Philanthropy again, I’m jealous of Jason for nabbing this post. :)

  • http://www.socialmediaphilanthropy.com Jeff Gibbard

    Harrison, I’m truly in awe of this post.  This is one of the most relevant and thoughtful posts I’ve seen in the blogosphere.  It’s only worth noting your age at times just to highlight how well you “get it,” especially when compared to some industry veterans that miss the big picture staring them in the face.  

    Great post my friend.  I’m adding this to my Favorites public notebook on Evernote, reserved for timeless classic posts. http://www.evernote.com/pub/jeffgibbard/favorite-articlesSo next question, when are you going to guest blog on Social Media Philanthropy again, I’m jealous of Jason for nabbing this post. :)

  • http://onlinemba.unc.edu Harrison at MBA@UNC

    Jeff, you’re too kind… thank you so much, always thrilled to hear such great praise form someone who has helped mentor me as I move along. Social Media Philanthropy post coming up soon!

  • http://twitter.com/jwongjk Jan Wong

    Great post you have there! I only know a handful of people that puts in that extra mile to make a connection truly social. Whether it is by meeting them in person over coffee or a phone call. I agree that this is how communities are truly built. Twitter and Facebook is a great way of establishing an initial connection but it should never replace real ones.

  • http://onlinemba.unc.edu Harrison at MBA@UNC

    Thank you Jan! Well said :)

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

    Well done Harrison. The third dimension is the key dimension.

  • http://onlinemba.unc.edu Harrison at MBA@UNC

    Thanks @jasonbaer:disqus ! I like the dimension quote… sounds like its from the Twilight Zone too haha

  • http://www.tradesmeninsights.com John Sonnhalter

    Harrison-Good stuff. I agree lots of us get so hung up on the mechanics that we sometimes forget why the hell we’re doing this-to actually meet people. Keep up the good work.

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  • Guest1

    While this article has some decent points that we all can see, I feel like there are some things here worth critiquing. First thing comes from the Editor’s note. I’d aruge and say while Harrison is a go-getter the “amount” of things started doesn’t equal the amount of things actually done. KartzTV, Kratz PR, Prstud podcast if I’m not mistaken, TweetDrive which is spammed to everyone, etc. While they may have been started, that doesn’t mean he or anyone else in a simliar mindset or situation has really done anything. 

    With that being said, on to the content… Harrison makes a good call here, communities aren’t all online. The problem though, isn’t that people aren’t engaging in their active communities offline. The problems are with community managers. Justin Isaf (@justinisaf:disqus) , community manager of HuffPo wrote a great article at TheCommunityManager.com about the topic. He broke it down to this: if you “If your job is primarily to talk to lots of people, you work in Social MediaIf your job is primarily to get lots of people talking to each other, you work in Community Management.” With that being said. Today’s “community manager” is really just social media. In that case, no one needs to meet in person. While it can enhance it isn’t the primary purpose. I agree with Harrison’s attitude of getting out and meeting people but I think with some, him and other included, it easily gets skewed. I pose this question: Harrison, would you have driven 13 hours to Indiana if “influential” folks in SM like Jason Falls, Jay Baer et al. weren’t there? In all fun and games I’m sure you are going to say “Yes.” Just like every other happy-go-lucky social media-er. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the problem here is that we over/under value people. We think it’s worth it to get out the door and go to a “community party” because big guns are gonna be there and are actually less inclined when the personal interest is less apparent. Another problem, not with this article but the idea of community, comes down to platform. SecondLife is a great example. Some people are best friends with folks primarily online and that is okay. Whereas a neighborhood community or local community thrives in person. Things are different. The platform of choice isn’t the killer, the people are. Understanding that a particular community can co-exist in all kinds of platforms or just inhabit only is the job of a true community manager and the members of those communities. Good read, a bit “drink-the-kool-aid-y” but though provoking enough to make me leave a comment, basically a blog post in a comment. 

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Well, Guest1, since your beef was with what I said, I guess I’ll respond, too. I’m not sure where you’re coming from on the “amount of things actually done.” I’ve worked with Harrison on TweetDrive, which is far from spam in my opinion. I’ve also watched the work he has done for not just his own show/blog/network, but how he interacts with others, the mindset behind what he does and how he hustles. 

      Not bad for a 30-year-old, experienced guy. But wait … he’s 20.

      I’m all for constructive criticism, but I disagree with your calling him and what he’s done out. It’s egotistical on your part (anonymously done or not) and unfair. And frankly, doing it anonymously is gutless. 

      Do people (like me) over-aggrandize sometimes when we’re praising someone? Sure. But I’d rather do that than take cheap shots at someone hiding behind an avatar.

      (Can you tell I’m not a fan of anonymity.)

      Thanks for chiming in. 

  • http://onlinemba.unc.edu Harrison at MBA@UNC

    @02393530b93b40615d1853166d4487f1:disqus You’re entitled to your opinion, but I have to ask why you feel the need to call out the things I have worked on… I never said, nor has anyone else said that they were extremely successful. They have been ambitious, seen success in their own right, and helped me grow before I’ve even graduated. Plus, I’m sorry you feel that way about Tweet Drive. But honestly, I find it disconcerting that you would attack a project that over 150+ people have worked on tirelessly without seeing a dime. Anyways, that’s stuff isn’t important, nor relevant.As far as community manager, I’m more talking on a personal level. There are a lot of people who hide behind the online facade and don’t get out there enough and interact. I agree with your points about being a community manager and how its just turned into social media… Frankly, my role at my new company is blurred between social media coordinator and community manager. That being said, my efforts are in the name of building an interactive community, so I would say that I’m coordinating social media to manage the community as it grows.And in the sake of practicing what i preach – I feel like I should be perfectly honest… No, I wouldn’t have driven out there otherwise. But I don’t see anything wrong with that. I saw an opportunity and I took it… In retrospect, that example may not have been the best for this post. Maybe a little more “get off your ass” than “community,” so I understand your skepticism.You make good points and I’m glad this post was thought provoking enough. The only thing I have a problem with is your anonymity. Clearly I don’t shy away from criticism, nor do I attack it. I think its just an opening to actual conversation… So why hide behind a “Guest1″ and blank avatar? Kind of kills the point. Otherwise, thank you for a thought provoking rebuttal and conversation… 

    • Guest1

      The remark about your work wasn’t to say you do bad stuff or that the projects you work on are horrible. By no means was I trying to down play your attitude or ability to make nothing into something or the success. It was pointed to the Editor’s remark. I respect your hustle but for someone else to announce that you or anyone else has done more as a college student than any one else in 10 years is a stretch. Sorry, whether it was you or any other joe schmoe. 

      The reason why I post as guest1 is mainly so you or anyone doesn’t judge based on who is saying. Instead you are focusing on what is said. Granted nothing I am writing here is a personal attack on you or the blog or the editors. It’s merely food for thought. Plus, if you knew who this was you’d get all judgmental ;)

  • http://twitter.com/dbreakenridge Deirdre Breakenridge

    Harrison, I admire your passion and feel that the potential for a great relationship starts online in social communities, but it’s the physical connections that build really strong bonds.  I’ve always taught my students as well as my employees that nothing will ever replace a personal meeting; where you can look someone in the eyes and shake someone’s hand.  I agree with what John said that sometimes we may forget why we’re doing this … it is to actually meet people. I think you will find tremendous success with your approach!

  • Kim

    I think there is one area you didn’t cover with your article. How for some people the on-line social is the only social they have. I speak for myself. For reasons of hearing loss, shyness, depression and other personal crap you don’t care about, I hate meeting other people in person. I always worry that I won’t hear what they say properly. I always believe that when they see me they start thinking, ‘Gah, what the heck does she think she is doing here? This is for people, not lumps of worthless flesh.’ Those are the things that stop me from being social in real life.

    For others it might be because they are bed-bound, deaf or disfigured. Some could be single parents with no family or friend support so the only time they can be social is when the kids are asleep because, when the kids are at school they are busy working.

    For some, on-line social may be the only way to be social at all. For the few of us out there, something is better then nothing.

    P.S. : please no pity responses, I’ve dealt with the depression for over 20 years, and sometimes it just can’t get better.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the perspective, Kim. Certainly the in person isn’t for everyone for a variety of reasons. Hopefully Harrison’s motivation can help some folks remember that the in-person is an option. 

    • http://onlinemba.unc.edu Harrison at MBA@UNC

      Hi Kim, Thank you for your open perspective. Like Jason said, the in-person communication isn’t for everyone. This post caters to the majority of social media users, and of course there are exceptions. 

      It sounds like your community is online, and that is perfectly fine… I think the full point of my post is that you have to go where your community is. Sounds like you have found a way to do that.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10618874 Chase Sherman

    Your points are very strong, Harrison.  I can appreciate your enthusiasm and desire to network with intelligent and well-connected professionals.  I think you’re doing the right thing by sticking to your entrepreneurial roots.  Entrepreneurs seem to understand the importance of doing over talking.

    Clearly, your commitment to this path has proven to be valuable.  Guest posting for Jason’s blog is an excellent way for you to build credibility.  Good stuff, man.

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  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

    I’m not sure what is more impressive, this kick ass post by @HarrisonMBAatUNC:disqus or his professional reply to “Guest1.”

    I’m in awe. Well written. Well thought out. Nice touch of appropriate zing (“So, what are you waiting for? Get off your ass and go learn the real meaning of community and “social.”).

    Not bad for a UNC MBA student – from a fellow Kenan Flagler MBA student (eMBA program 2009).

    Keep kicking ass, Harrison. You’ve won me over.

    • http://www.chris-moody.com/blog Chris Moody

      Agreed. I met @HarrisonMBAatUNC:disqus at Mashable Connect and we formed a small group that hung out most of the conference. Harrison joins Clair Fabrizio as one of the two most motivated young professionals I’ve ever seen. 

      I appreciate effort. My parents always taught me to work hard, be humble and treat people with respect. To see folks like Harrison do this at a young age is awesome.

      Great guest post dude. While I prefer the MBA program done the road at NC State, I look forward to keeping up with @kratzpr. :)

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