Guess What? Important People Still Talk on the Phone. And Social Media Isn't the Be-All-And-End-All

10/08/2010 05:34 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

So, this just in. Internet people make a lot of assumptions. I know, I know, it's terribly shocking and will knock your socks off, but people are making base assumptions about the web based on their own very vague and temporal understanding of how their lives work.
Ask any random media person - inside or outside our fair, currently-rainy city and they'll blare in your ear about social media and its revolutionary ability to solve every problem that can ever crop up with your customers, ever. Gasp! Just because you have a Twitter account and a person on them internets is telling you that the plastic bit fell off of their whatever doesn't mean that everyone A) does it or B) is using this as a new vanguard in communication glory.

In fact, Plantronics just did a study into how business people actually communicate. The big findings are either shocking or obvious depending on how many working people you actually talk to - essentially, 90% of professionals spend time working off site, and while this means that most communication forms have increased, including (sigh) social networking, email and phone still remain king. In fact, 83% said that email was critical to their success - and 81% said the same for the phone. Even audio conferencing (61%) beat social networks, which had a paltry 19%.

Whereabouts am I going with this? Well, it's about the actual straight-up business use of social networking. Not only do I have a delicious accent that sounds just fine over the phone, and the eloquence to deliver a delightful email, I can't for the life of me feel any true business success surging forth from within my Tweets. In fact, I find the process a delightful outlet to it all - a release valve for a day's importance (that and a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid.) Same goes for Facebook. I don't want to 'work' on these. I want them to be 'social.'

Which ultimately begs the question as to how people consider communication in and of itself. Hypothetically, and worryingly, do people really think that Twitter is a great work-relevant device? Though I've used it to pester a journalist in my time, I can't imagine actually doing anything work-related. A phone-call? Sure. I can actually have emotion through that versus the vague misunderstandings that take place even more via Twitter - 50% of the study's participants said they've had a misunderstanding via email - just think of the wonders of 140 characters!

If you simply must use social networking to communicate, please do it wisely. Though many swear by Google Docs, I've recently jumped into Huddle, which is something like what Google Wave would be if it actually worked, without the realtime-editing of everyone's words. It's a collaboration space on documents, projects and calendars, with app functionality much like the criminally under-appreciated Remember The Milk. Furthermore, if you need short, timely messages about work to actually arrive near your workmates, versus the thirty-second retweet of someone discussing something disgusting, Yammer is awesome. And, for the most part, free, unless you want to administer the accounts, which is essential if you want to keep that guy out who got fired for stealing all the pens.

Overall, it's heart-warming to see that professionals still talk, or at least keep it to a relatively professional medium. I pray to whatever deity would have me that I am not part of a generation of people who will publicly discuss their every work-movement. Please, stay classy, workmates.