The more connected we seem to be living, the more we seem to be moving away from what really matters online: the people. What a paradox! We've witnessed the appearance of great revolutions: Facebook, Twitter, Kickstarter or Wordpress; platforms which have dismantled the status quo we lived in. However, we've also witnessed the disappearance of many other platforms that didn't quite manage to find their space in the online world (or generate a stable business model): Foursquare, Google Buzz, Ping, etc.
How to do it
Below are the strategic principles for a more human online communication and marketing. No person or organisation should forget them if they want to earn their space in this digital economy (or, in the words of Seth Godin, connected economy):
- Find the human meaning. If the actions you carry out don't resonate with the people you're targeting, there's no meaning to what you're doing. The same goes for you: if what you're doing on the social web isn't making you a better professional or person, then it's not Human Media.
- Human ROI. Work towards understanding the end benefit / objective of your community and employees. Take an interest in their goals. Ask, analyse and find ways to achieve such ROI.
- Strengthen your feedback. Listen carefully to what your community has to say: with every brand interaction, they're trying to say something that can usually be quite useful. First of all, learn to listen to them on the different platforms where such interactions take place. Then, correctly decode this message and verify it with your audience. Then, transfer your "insight" to the brand so you can prepare your response and a solution. Finally, work towards implementing this in your brand, product or community.
- A connection is earned through emotion. Tell your real story, a truthful, human story that exposes your weaknesses and shows your vulnerability. Show who your team and network of collaborators and suppliers are. Share the joy and also the sadness. Motivate and inspire your audience rather than talk about your product or service. Make every interaction personal. It's hard work but it pays off!
- A connection is made through commitment: when you do as you say time and time again, without mistake for a long period of time; every time you publicly apologise for any failures in your service, attention or work; every time you announce anything you had promised you would do; when what you say is in line with your results.
- Core skills for a human-digital environment: community leadership, not management; respecting other people's opinions rather than twisting their reactions; a curiosity for interaction, not a passiveness towards any answer; productivity and optimisation in a connected environment, not the dumbing-down of social media; ignoring anonymous criticism; rejecting work en masse, focusing on the tribe instead; excelling and choosing yourself over anybody else.
- The key to front-wheel driving: initiative, choice and attitude in the face of knowledge and information.
- Resonance over engagement: in a saturated environment where there are increasing connection and emotional bonding possibilities every day, what matters is to get your audience in line with regard to specific and increasingly personal causes. Engagement is the result of the interest you invest in your community. Resonance is the positive response to such result.
- The new economy hovers over two worlds: Internet and the 'real-life' world. The key is to find the intersection and establish the point of equilibrium. Using the phone to talk to one of your blog readers is very powerful, as is meeting your Twitter connections or organising business meetings with people whom you've created some value with through LinkedIn.
- Content: first of all, create; then, distribute, re-distribute and exchange. A person's essence isn't in what they share but, rather, on what they create. This is how we can understand the way they perceive and understand the world, their skills and virtues, their flaws and vulnerability and, through all of this, what they can contribute to the market and the world. When you create personal content, you create something that's unique and you share your own divinity with others: making sure you think about your target (through a blog, video-blog, podcast, etc.), your content is specialised (whatever your area of expertise and passion) and prolonged in time (two or three posts per week) could generate greater impact than only sharing content that you reach by other means.
- Sharing to create change. In regard to the point above, I'm not saying we don't have to share: as Chris Brogan says, tweet one thing about yourself for every 20 tweets about others; or as Guy Kawasaki says, talk about others 95% of the time, with the remaining 5% in regard to the things you do. Finding a common, intermediate ground, I'd say that real connection occurs when you create 30% of the content you share, 20% of your content is talking about other people or local businesses who're doing a great job and the remaining 30% is spent informing about great things that can create positive change in your community.
Internet changed the economy and social media changed the meaning of communication. However, it's the people who have changed the Internet and how we all use the social web to remain more human.
Photo credit: Dave Gray.