Technology makes it easy to…
- Say "no."
- Ignore somebody.
- Speak your mind without looking someone in the eyes.
- Be "off the cuff."
- Be greedy.
- Spam people.
- Be rude.
- Blow someone off.
- Close yourself off from the opinions of others.
Don’t let technology makes us less human.
We’ve had a tough week. From countries falling and people starving to weather warnings to seeing people we admire call it a day. In the end, we only have each other (and I’m not just talking about your family, friends and close ones). All of us are in this together. I’ve often raged against the machine that tries to splinter what goes on in here from what happens in our protein forms (you can read more about that right here: The Real World). While I may not be great at thanking everyone who retweets something I’ve put out on Twitter or responding to something that was posted on Facebook, I do my best to acknowledge my appreciation for all of the interactions and connections that happen in these digital channels.
Along with that…
I do my best to conduct myself professionally in the online channels – much in the same way I do in the offline channels. What does this mean? Someone recently asked me if I would be willing to review their resume. While I’m always happy to help a friend out, I let them know that I have not looked at a resume in a very long time and I currently don’t have one. When pressed for what I would do if I needed a resume, I replied that anyone interested in knowing about who I am, my work experience and what I’m all about and capable of can do so with a very simple online search. That’s me. When pressed for what I would do if I needed to learn more about someone else (with full disclosure that I don’t touch HR at Twist Image), I had the same response. For my money, there’s no better resume than a Blog, a Twitter feed or a Facebook page. That’s me. That’s how I think. Anybody can fill an 8 1/2 x 11 white page with accolades about their accomplishments. It takes a very different person to constantly and consistently build credibility through these online channels.
Being human doesn’t mean that you have to divulge every little personal bit of information about yourself. It’s not about exposing the world to your personal life. It also doesn’t mean that you have to reveal everything about your professional life and what you’re going through. How much you reveal has nothing to do with acting in a human… and a humane way. People often confuse this and they shouldn’t. The brands that attract us most are the brands that speak to us – as individuals. Brands are not people, but brands can act in a human way by leveraging the power of the individuals that work for them. We’ve seen this magic happen. Sadly, we’ve also seen this fail when brands think that corporate speak and marketing mumbo jumbo is the way to connect. If you do anything over this coming weekend, ask yourself this: how can I act more "human" and real in these online channel? Bonus question: how can the brands I represent be more human too?
True success in Digital Marketing is about being human. It’s not everything, but it’s a great place to start.
How can the brands you represent be more human too? That question is one I attempt to answer for my clients every single day.
Some ideas: answer your phones, sign your emails, address customers by name, apologize, thank, acknowledge, share the spotlight, clean up your factories, pay your male and female employees equally, offer maternity and paternity leave, support volunteerism among your employees, donate a portion of your proceeds to charity, hire with an eye for diversity, listen to complaints about your products and aim to fix them, listen to compliments about your products and reward those who share the brand-love, don’t talk about yourself in the third person, let employees telecommute, serve good coffee, celebrate your most loyal employees and customers, stop bad-mouthing your competitors, hire interns, thank the maid service.
Get used to it, I’m afraid. If the mobile future continues the way it is doing, then we won’t need to ever meet anybody face to face again.
The line that most impresses me is, “How much you reveal has nothing to do with acting in a human… and a humane way.” I actually use that philosophy personally and professionally. I’ve had friends ask why I don’t share more information on my personal profiles, and the truth is that I’m not comfortable with doing so. I’ll be engaging and my (usually) charming self on those channels, but I’m not going to share who or what has frustrated me. I act similarly on my professional channels. I don’t talk about specific clients, nor do I share my work frustrations. I do, however, let potential acquaintances, friends, and clients see the “person” behind the profession through the information I share and what I write.
Such an eloquent piece at the perfect moment. Thanks Mitch!
Wow, I smell a follow-up post, “The Death of the Resume.” So true.
Share your thoughts exactly regarding a resume Mitch. Personally, I don’t think most HR departments will even be asking for a resume in 5 years. Heck, we’ll all laugh at them in 10 years and look back at just how utterly ineffective they were.
Love your point about being human though. It’s an easy trait to lose in some ways. That constant burn to ‘do’, produce, create, and see the results…which can lead to the ‘inhumanity’ of an individual.
Poignant advice, at the end of the day we are dealing with humans and we should treat them as such.
While i completely agree with the message in this post, i also feel that sometimes the technology and shield put up by some of those in digital marketing. Sometimes the anonymity of online marketing allows those with big ideas and little confidence the venue to present these ideas to those in which they would feel unworthy of their time. There is often give and take and outliers to these strategies but the mask of technology doesn’t have all negative consequences.
Great article. I can’t stress to client enough about the importance of remembering that social media is social. It is so easy to be anonymous online. Brands lose the smiling customer service rep greeting people at the entrance of their store, and they need to find a way to mimick this online.
Echoing other comments, a beautiful and timely post Mitch. I think there’s something that you elude to that social media prooked; personal branding. I’m noticing more and more self-promotion out there in the name of personal branding. And there too, the humanity is lost. Just “Be human!” Couldn’t agree more.
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