Hey You!

When my eldest son finished up sixth-grade the school had a graduation ceremony. (In our school district elementary school ends after the sixth-grade and middle school begins in the seventh.) As a dutiful parent I attended the ceremony expecting a quick rundown of the names and some juice and cookies afterward. I listened attentively to the names as each student was called forth to take his or her seat. When my son’s name was called I figured that would be the one and only time it would be recognized that day, and accordingly my heart leapt with pride as I heard it called.

The ceremony went on a little longer than I had anticipated, I think his sixth-grade class was larger than my high school graduating class. In any event, several kids were recognized for different academic achievements and I was starting to wonder if my son would be called again. When he was called again it came as a surprise and it was for an academic achievement neither my wife nor I knew he was getting and we were both beaming with pride.

After the ceremony concluded and I was driving to the office I started to think about what took place. That little bit of acknowledgment had left a deep impression.

Something about that acknowledgement and the pride I felt made me feel I was missing something. It took me a bit but I finally figured it out.

We get so caught up in tweeting, posting, sharing, uploading, whatevering, we forget to take anything in or even speak with those followers, friends, admirers, etc. In other words, being social. Maybe this is the Jerry McGuire mission statement in me but I don’t think it is all about the numbers. Not on a personal level at the least and in many cases not on a brand level either. Maybe I am an outlier but I don’t believe we should be simply collecting friends and followers but we should be engaging with them, acknowledging them, their ideas and our relationship with them. I can work to get 10,000 followers on twitter but what does it mean if I am not having a conversation with them. I will have become a TV show and my followers passive viewers. This all could just be my sense of mortality broadening but relationships should be deeper than I follow him or she follows me on twitter or I liked “them” on facebook.

Brands, regardless of vertical, need to engage with their fans, constituents, community. Find out what makes them tick. Why do they relate to you and why have they made room for you in their lives. We can look at surveys, polls and questionnaires but those only go so far in telling the story. A two-way conversation is needed to fill in the gaps, complete the backstory and give us the full tale.

That full tale helps us to better realize the interdependence or our relationships. The connectivity we share so to speak. It makes us a better company, better people. It makes us social. It reminds us to be human.

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