Being human in the age of being digital

Nicholas Negroponte wrote “Being Digital” in 1995. In it he shared insights of endless possibilities for our future based on his work at MIT. I pulled it off the shelf last week and have been revisiting it. The book was a fascinating read for anyone remotely connected to the communications industry when it was released. Flash forward 22 years and much of what he envisioned has transpired – from a world of convergence in media ownership and multi screen viewing, to news being delivered in digital form, as well as an eerie notion of social media and apps as we’ve come to to know them today. But of course there have been a few surprises. Most notably I would say is his failure to anticipate how the process of digital connection and its promise of social interaction would actually leave us more physically isolated. Somewhere along the way Negroponte forget our need to be human.

Which is the theme of my post…

This week I clicked on a Facebook feed sponsored post from Amy Porterfield. Nothing remarkable about that I realize. She’s a rock star in the online community for her knowledge and teaching around Facebook and I’ve seen her stuff pop up from time to time. I know full well I’m in one of her “audience” sets and part of her target marketing efforts, since we met up at Social Media Marketing World earlier this year.

But here’s what I found interesting. I started to reflect on “why I had clicked” through to her stuff and not the other glitzy people who show us as sponsored posts in my feed trying to sell me stuff. For the most part they are people I don’t know, who promise that I too can be as awesome as they are if I just buy their stuff.

Here’s why I clicked on Amy’s post:

1. She looked low key and personable. The post featured a casual photo of her on the couch with her labradoodle and husband. It wasn’t posed, and it certainly wasn’t perfect. It was an average photo you would share with friends. I suppose it helped that her dog looked like mine too…

2. The copy was engaging. She told a story that I could relate to. No big promises, not a bunch of bragging, just some insights.

3. She wasn’t selling directly. She was inviting me in to learn more. No doubt she would be offering the opportunity to buy at some point, but not until she had rapport, and in the mean time sharing knowledge for free.

Here’s why I don’t click on the other promoted content that shows up in my feed:

1. There’s no rapport. I don’t even know these people!

2. There’s no trust. If I don’t know them, how can I trust them?

3. They look too perfect. Perfectly staged and glitzy images might be inspirational to some, but I find it bragging and superficial at best. You in front of your flashy car? Your perfectly quaffed hair with your kids playing in the background of your designer house as you make money sitting on the couch? Seriously, most parents know this is a pipe dream at best. And if it isn’t, you’re likely to be boringly self-absorbed at a party. Refer back to item #1.

4. They’re selling straight out of the gate. I get it, they bought an audience on Facebook and they want to generate sales, but how can you sell to someone who doesn’t even know you, where there’s no rapport or trust or track record?

With Facebook and Instagram much of this comes down to how you select the audience to promote to. It is so critical. Obviously Amy Porterfield has fine tuned her approach using known people with rapport, or pixel tracking to her website to at least only approach folks who have demonstrated some curiosity about her products in the past.

All of this caused me to reflect on my weekly Sunday morning 5-Minute Marketing tips e-newsletter and the feedback I have been getting recently. Although I regularly receive comments about the content, it was the comments on the WAY IT WAS BEING DELIVERED that were interesting.

“You write like you talk.”
“I hear your voice when I read your stuff.”
“You’re just you.”

Anecdotally these are of course lovely to hear, but they too are coming are from the same place as my Amy Porterfield observations. People want to connect with others who appear genuine. I suppose it really comes down to your preferred vehicle to do that – writing as you talk, presenting in person, or using video. It just makes you more human.

That’s my marketing tip for this week. Be human, and only sell if you have rapport. And for God’s sake, if you’re going to promote on Facebook or Instagram, learn how to target audiences where that rapport exists. Or earn your own tribe through a subscriber base you have nurtured – which quite honestly should be the ultimate goal of your media strategy anyway.

Mary Charleson

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