As more and more people “connect” to one another the prevailing questions becomes “Who cares about your stuff?”. This question is relevant to the definitions and related expectations people have with their connections. It also becomes relevant to brands seeking ways to effectively use social technology for business purposes.
Many brands have been trying “social advertising” only to learn that people don’t really care about ads and this is reflected by the low click through rates. As brands seek to optimize the social web they will need to rethink the definition of “relationships” with their markets and individual consumers. For consumers to really care about the “stuff” a brand offers there must be a compelling reason for consumers to engage in a relationship.
Todd Van Hoosear writes: You see, your job as a marketer or business leader is not necessarily to get people to care about your business or your cause—at least not directly. Your job is to make it easy for a potential client to understand how your organization can help solve a problem they’re facing. Then maybe they’ll care, but that comes later.
What Do We Care About?
The basic human nature is to care about people. Sure we “care” about the things we buy and use but the overriding human influence is caring about other people. We care about what others think, what others do and what others know. The evidence of this is supported by the mass adoption of social technologies that enable people to follow, keep up with and engage in “people” conversations and activities. The social web offers a “social landscape of people centric conversations and activities” which can be observed and watched by those that follow. The landscape of activities creates a relationship affinity to others whom care about our thoughts, activities and the relationships we keep. It is from these affinities and activity landscapes that we find things and people to care about and to offer a helping hand when we see a need we can fill.
People often ask me “what do people get from being connected to so many people?”. My response is as follows:
- We get to learn from others activities and conversations
- We get to add value to others where possible
- We get engaged with others and create mutual opportunities
- We get fresh perspectives and insights from “crowds”
- When we need information, contacts or input our network adds significant value
Not all contacts are equal. Overtime we develop different phases of relationships with our total network. The phases are:
- Initially we “form” a virtual connection. Some of our virtual contacts never go beyond the phase of “forming“.
- Subsequently we begin to identify which contacts we have the most affinity to and with through observation and conversational participation. I’ll call this phase “storming” which is a behavioral attribute of groups.
- Following these observations we begin to converse regularly with those connections which we “feel” the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship that goes beyond simply a “virtual connection”. This is called “norming”.
- Following the “norming stage” we begin to actually produce some personal or professional results from a subset of our total connections. This phase is known as “performing” and its attributes are mutual gains for a common purpose.
Like a funnel the larger number of contacts we have virtually the higher probability of finding those which you can get to the “performing stage”. The science of using the funnel concept is about assessing the probability of your “contacts” likelihood to be a potential for a “performing relationship”. Said assessment can be concluded simply by reviewing an individual’s profile characteristics, the people they know and the type of content they publish and/or relate to as the initial basis for the “forming” phase.
Creating performing relationships requires an investment in time and effort to get through the other relationship phases. However the value of increasing one’s performing relationships grows exponentially over time and you never realize the value until you invest the time and effort to be open (forming) observe (storming), engage (norming) and produce mutually beneficial results (performing).
The more people whom I reach a performing stage with the more problems I can solve, the more solutions I can find and the more opportunities are discovered by all. In addition, while I will likely never meet most of these people face to face we do indeed have a relationship that produces mutual results. These are the people whose stuff I care about and whom also care about my stuff.
Get it? What say you?