Do you have any friends who constantly talk and never listen? Neither do we - because we call those people acquaintances. Most brands are still stuck in 1950’s style posturing, messaging, positioning - all one-way activities. That was back when brands didn’t need to listen, because they could control the airwaves. That, of course, is almost impossible these days. The Internet offers infinite choice. One way, TV-style advertising is not the best use of Social Media - and it is definitely not a conversation.
It’s no longer about control, it’s about influence.
How do brands become influential? Well, they start by acting like a human being instead of a huge, one-way technicolor yawn of marketing bullshit. They act the same way a polite, emotionally-intelligent person would at a dinner party - have a seat at the table, listen for a few minutes, learn a bit about the etiquette and the subject at hand, then only say things that add value and move the conversation forward.
People gather around ideas that matter.
Brands also gain influence by generously contributing important ideas to communities that care about their stuff. If we talk with engineers, then we should publish hydrology tables that will help them finish their work faster. If we talk with amusement parks, offer up useful data to help them benchmark where they stand vs. their competitive set. If we talk with activists, we should voluntarily publish data about sustainability to help them evaluate us.
The days of brands controlling the conversation are over. Brands can’t even really sponsor the conversation much anymore, because it is so cheap and easy for people to go someplace they can talk without our interruption. The best we can hope for is to have the privilege of joining or maybe hosting the conversation - contributing only when we add value. This opportunity comes only when the community trusts us to act like fellow human beings.
Authentic spends a lot of time thinking about what it means to be human. We’ve helped build global communities around all kinds of stuff that matters.
If you’d like to discuss what matters to you and your circles, send us an email, join the conversation, or subscribe to our blog.