Being more human

I’ve been travelling in Australia recently, logging some 1,400km on the rental car, making my way down the east coast from Noosa to Sydney after a learn to kite surfing adventure. The trip has been a mix of business and pleasure, that has enabled me to meet up with clients in both Sydney and Melbourne, as well as some business contacts along the way in Queensland and NSW.

It was a pleasure to spend some time with Jason Skinner from Business Made Easy Podcast along the Gold Coast. Jason and I have remained in touch since meeting up at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego last year, and I was a guest interview on his podcast this year talking marketing and media. I was also able to meet up with Serena Ryan, a Facebook consultant in Sydney, another contact from Social Media Marketing World. Serena was back fresh from this year’s conference in San Diego, so was brimming with news and thoughts about the trip.

What struck me as a theme in both conversations was the emerging importance of in person personal connections, and as Mark Shaeffer put it so succinctly in his SMMW19 closing keynote, to “be more human.” Could it be that after all the online connecting, sharing photos, videos, posting thoughts and memes, liking and commenting, being put into follow up funnels, chatted at by bots, what we really crave is in person human connection? All of the above are certainly valuable when placed in a solid strategy, but they will never replace genuine human connection. While I’ve yet to dive into the content from SMMW19 as a virtual attendee this year, following the threads of conversation, and then meeting up with others who were there in person, with the context of past years to compare, I’d say this “be more human” thing is something we need to get a solid grasp on in our marketing.

When I reverse engineer the connections with Serena and Jason, it starts to show some insight on this. In both cases, we were introduced “virtually” in a meet up online thread prior to the conference. I had jokingly added myself to the “Aussie” group – noting that I had visited recently, so might qualify for partial membership. There was some good-natured joking that went on, but also the opportunity to learn about each other’s businesses. We then met up in person at the conference with a “pre-screened” notion that we might get along and have something to offer in terms of knowledge or business contacts. The in-person connection is really what solidified the friendship, but in both cases, we continued the connection online after the conference – but on our own platforms through Facebook pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, podcast, Youtube etc.  At a distance, these connecting points were much more personable having had the in-person contact at some point – that’s an important element in all this. Then it all came full circle again in Australia, with business meetings that frankly just felt like chatting and catching up with old friends.

We’re seeing this in person trend emerge in other areas with online groups and community leaders holding live events for their tribes. Some of the most successful speakers at Social Media Marketing World have moved solidly in this direction with great success.

I think this experience represents the cycle we will all be chasing in the coming years in an effort to make our marketing more human. A few observations:

  1. Fostering connections take time – in this case it evolved over 1-2 years.
  2. Online connections become much stronger if an in-person connection is made.
  3. Platforms for connection shifted from broadcast in nature to 1:1 private communication over time.

What I find interesting in all of this is how we’re seeing shifts to in person events for online communities that deepen relationships, and how those community leaders are shifting from broad reaching online tools to more 1:1 personal engagement to nurture the relationships. The people who are playing this smart in my opinion are getting one step ahead of future tech changes by ensuring they “own” access, and won’t have to pay to reach their group in the future. That’s the online component of course, the offline in person part is what will continue to drive action. People just want to connect, and be more human

If you happen to have missed my post about Mark Schaefer’s Marketing Rebellion book, here is the link. Mark’s observations about “being more human” are brilliant. The post contains an embedded link to a Youtube video review I did about the book too. Worth checking out in my humble opinion!

What are your thoughts? Does this resonate with you?

Mary Charleson

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