Brand Conversations

Truth #5 states "People will choose your organization, product or service if who you are aligns with who they are". This boils down to shared values. If your values are the same people will support your business, organization, or cause. Where this can get fun and creative is in how you allow people to support you.

My Story, Your Story, Our Story

All of humanity is living a collective story. We are all playing different roles and experience different things but there are some things that we all experience. Things like love, joy, and anger. A smile means the same thing all over the world. (Doesn't that thought bring a smile to your face?) Experiencing and sharing these commonalities is what makes life worth living. We all want to know we are not alone and we love sharing our individual lives (stories) to see how we fit into the larger story of humanity. We yearn to find kindred spirits and others that share our values. We are validated by these interactions and I think they are the basis for the boom of social media. This yearning to be heard, understood and accepted is something that can go beyond individuals but to organizations and their audiences.

Share and Share alike

Over the past several years thousands of social network platforms have sprung up. There is one for every conceivable group of people or subject and if you can't find one that meets your needs there is platforms that allow you to start your own. The one thing they all have in common is that they provide us the ability to share what matters to us. From stupid stuff like what we're eating and photos of our shoes to much more substantial parts of our life. Like our trials, hurts, and defeats. How many times a day do you check your social media to see if anyone has "Liked" something you had to say or a photo you posted?

We share these various aspects of our life because we are looking for a connection. We're creating opportunities for our story to intersect the story of someone else. Pair that with the various kinds of sharing, music, photos, written words etc we offer an unlimited number of opportunities for these connections to happen. Not only can you share whatever you want, to whoever you want but it can be done however you want.

The Brand Conversation

These interactions are basically small conversations, or exchanges, and are ripe with potential for a organization to share its values and become a part of the human story. I do not mean you have a captive audience to send marketing messages to. I mean you have a chance to be honest, and add value to the lives of your customers. People need to know your values and believe they are more than lip service if they are going to align themselves with your organization. By engaging in honest conversation you give people the opportunity to discover who you really are.

What you have to say is important but I feel the real potential here is in providing an opportunity for your customers to share these shared values from their perspective. Like all conversations it's a two way street, input and listening happening from both parties. The interesting challenge here is to design the best medium for these brand conversations.

Maybe they can be had over social media, but it is my observation that meaningful conversations between organizations and individuals rarely happen through Facebook and Twitter. More often than not we see organizations creating social media accounts and thinking that is the end all. "Just create the account and our audience will engage" is the thought but this is the furthest thing from the truth. Think of your audience as individuals, as someone you would sit down with over a tall mocha breve to talk and listen. You need to value what they have to say, not just appear to value what they have to say, and definitely not just give them an outlet to speak via a social network and not even listen.

Let your audience share in the medium that is most meaningful to them. They could create videos, take photos, write stories etc. You'll be giving your audience the opportunity to share in a medium that is personal to them and they will poor more of themselves into the conversation. Remember we're after meaningful conversations about shared values. If these are values your audience holds dear then they will communicate with passion and pride in both the medium and the message.

Conclusion

In a day where the majority of organizations simply want to rely on a social media page to engage their audience I challenge you to figure out how your organization can enter their lives, and empower them to share what is important to them in a way that is meaningful to them. The act of providing this opportunity is rare and will help build Love between your organization and the individuals in your audience. These people will support you, stand behind you and fight for you if need be. All you have to do is care. Are you willing? Are you brave enough? Do you have the work ethic to get it done?