When you read the words “social network”, what comes to mind? Most people associate the term with social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. You can network on those sites, that’s for sure, but there isn’t much of the “social” aspect going on. Even if your picture albums help your great-aunt feel a bit more connected to you, it won’t really help build that relationship. And what about the people you’re technically connected to online, but you’ve never met? Even on the platforms that are supposedly designed to help you bond with people all over the world, it would seem bizarre to actually have a conversation with a random social media connection.
Now, think about how it would work on a social networking site with video chats so you could not only make real connections, but build a social network that actually meant something. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to just think about it – you could see for yourself on a site like Fruzo. Where popular video chat sites like Omegle and Chatroulette help you meet all kinds of people through random video chatting, incorporating that idea into a social network platform gives you the best of both worlds.
This is probably new territory for most people, so here’s some advice on how it works.
You know how most social media requires you to set up a profile? It’s a little different if people are meeting you in a video chat instead.
On a typical social media site, potential connections would use your profile pictures and biographical information to decide whether or not to follow you. If they first learned about you on a video chat, though, you’d have to give them essentially the same information, but in a different format.
With that in mind, consider what information you’d be giving them on a video chat. They’d know what you looked like within seconds, of course, but you can influence their first impression by how you look and what you’re wearing. Most people prefer to beef up their profiles with flattering, well-lit photos instead of the pictures taken on a hazy Saturday morning after a late night out, right? By the same token, it’s probably best to get the most out of those first impressions by looking presentable as you meet new people via video chats.
That’s the comparison to social media; what about the comparison to random video chat sites? One of the biggest differences is that you now have the possibility of connecting with the people you’re chatting with, instead of just clicking through an endless stream of (hopefully) entertaining strangers. As such, it makes sense to put your best foot forward. In other words, act like the version of yourself that people would want to be friends with. The stakes still aren’t terribly high, but the people you chat with will be subconsciously deciding whether or not to be friends, so keep that in mind as you set up your video chats.
This is one of the most important features of this type of platform, and it’s what makes it so easy to establish genuine connections with total strangers. Instead of having hundreds or thousands of followers who you’ve never met, you could have a decent-sized social network of people who you’ve actually talked to. Not only did you like their content or profile, but you liked the personality of the stranger you met in the video chat. Even better, you can use periodic video chats to keep your new network alive and well.
Start up your video chats with a basic game plan already in place.
You probably already have a decent grasp of what not to tell people online. Things like personal information, undignified incidents in your own history that you’d rather forget, and that time you got food poisoning on a road trip shouldn’t be your first choice of conversation topic. Some of those stories could be alright for later conversations, but maybe they aren’t the best material for the very first time you meet.
Most people will automatically talk about some of their personal highlights when they’re getting to know someone; it’s just common practice. However, it’s important to find the right balance. Name-dropping academic accomplishments or awards could make you sound like a snob, but talking about the mountain trek you did last summer could show the other person that you’re athletic, dedicated, and a lover of the outdoors. The trick is to find the balance between being authentic, while sticking with the topics that will make you seem approachable and friendly. You don’t want to misrepresent yourself, but you do want to show yourself in the best light possible – literally and figuratively.
With that in mind, think of some conversation topics before you start video chatting. This way you can make sure that you don’t start blanking out in the middle of a conversation; it’s also a good way to minimize rambling if you want to keep going, but aren’t sure what to talk about.
Are you convinced yet?
At the beginning, social media was hailed as an unprecedented way to connect with people, no matter where they lived. As more and more people hopped online to share their lives with the world, though, some of them started noticing that they didn’t actually feel more connected to anyone. Millions of people still find it enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean that lasting friendships are being formed on these sites.
Similarly, random video chat sites say that you can make new friends as you meet strangers, but a friendship can only go so far if it gets lost among all the other people you end up randomly chatting with. Again, it’s fun, but it doesn’t really have a lasting impact.
When you use video chatting to build a social network, however, that’s a whole different ball game. If you play your cards right, it can be both fun and meaningful as you build a whole new social network.