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You’re a Human, Act Like It. Unless You’re OK with Being a Digital Marketing Failure – Engage

July 25, 2011
human digital marketing superior to robot digital marketing

Audiences are made of people, they aren’t made of logos. And when building an audience, you must connect with other people as a person, not as a logo.

There are very few that can succeed while ignoring this basic mantra. According to the law of averages, you are not one of them.

This doesn’t mean that logo-bearing organizations can’t have success online. It just means that they must approach it in a way they may not be used to. They need to activate the people that make their brand great, and lead their efforts with those people.

In sales, people buy from who they like. The attention economy works the same way. People pay attention to people they like. (There’s that word again: people.)

You can’t fake it (for long). You must commit to the idea that the people in your organization are what make it great. And the people in your organization are the ones that will connect your brand with an audience.

The cornerstone of success online is authenticity:

  • Be a person (Transparency)
  • Sound like a person (Tone)
  • Act like a person (Bring value)

You’ve got to be clear about who you are. You need to communicate in a way that allows other people to relate to you (as a person), and you need to bring value in the form of social currency (i.e. content that is useful or entertaining).

The digital world is a microcosm of the real world. People compare it to high school. People compare it to a cocktail party. People compare it to a conversation.

People compare it to a lot of things that mean the same thing: the web is a collection of information and entertainment that people search for and share.

It is this basic premise that reinforces the idea that if you want to build an audience online, you’ve got to act like you would when you’re trying to connect with people in the real world: be honest, be candid, and be useful or entertaining.

Transparency, tone, and value.

Whether you’re writing a blog post, responding in a forum thread, leaving a comment on a blog, interacting on Twitter (or Facebook, or Google+, or Reddit, or whatever) you’ll have most success when you identify who you are and what brings you to the conversation. Have a tone that fits the context of the conversation. And bring value to the conversation.

  • You can game search engines. You’ll either be exposed by Google or have disappointed readers. You lose both ways.
  • You can automate social media. You’ll either be suspended by the social network or blocked by its users. You lose again.
  • You can send spam emails. You’ll either by blacklisted by email clients or marked as spam. You lose once more.

You can try all you want to ignore the basic premise that authenticity works best but you’ll never gain traction.

Be transparent, have the right tone, and bring value.

Otherwise, you’re just a fake waiting to be exposed. A voice that is tuned out or ignored. Or another logo hawking their products.

None of that makes people want to connect with you. It’s the quickest way to turn them away.

[Image: Sebastianlund]

This post originally appeared on

If you liked this, try:

  1. 5 Things a Troll Taught Me About Content Marketing
  2. The Boy Scout Handbook of Social Media
  3. 4 Boardroom-Approved Reasons for Content Marketing
  4. Don’t Propose Marriage on the First Marketing Encounter
  5. The Difference Between a Crowd and an Audience

Tagged as: Building Community, Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Customer Service, relationships, Social Media, Transparency


From → Uncategorized

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