How would you define a “friend”? Most people would say they are the people who would be there for me without asking why. In other words real friends are people who know and love you. They are people who will give you advise when you ask for it and they also have enough relationship capital to hold you accountable. The purpose of a real friend is to be your friend when you need them.
With the onset of social technology we all have friends, followers and connections. From grade school friends, old classmates, co-workers, family and friends of family. Some of us have 100’s, 1,000’s and tens or thousands, hundreds of thousands friends, followers and connections. The really popular people have millions. So we should ask what is the value of friends, followers and connections?
From a commercial perspective all these people are leverage to expand the reach of a message. Commercially speaking all messages are designed to sell something. Today all commercial intents are to engage consumers in messages that leads them to a buy. While most will tell you they what a relationship the truth is they want your wallet.
Meaningless Numbers Create Meaningless Value
In the marketing world numbers become the mission but you can’t trust the numbers to mean anything. Marketers are obsessed with numbers which they use to justify their time, effort and cost. Liars use numbers to create their truths, not necessarily the truth. Numbers are meaningless without being tied to a purpose. Since the beginning of time businesses have measured profits at the end of each month and then going forward decisions are made based on those numbers.
Financial numbers are meaningless unless there is an understanding what drives the numbers. Understanding requires purpose. Profit is not a purpose, its only the result of a purpose. Without purpose there is no meaning. Without meaning there is no value in a relationship.
The Pursuit Of Social Meaning-less
Doc Searls writes: When we say “social” these days, we mostly mean the sites and services of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and other commercial entities. Not talking on the phone or in person. Not meeting at a café. Not blogging, or emailing or even texting. Those things are all retro and passé. Worse, they’re not what marketers get high off of these days. Meaning they’re outside the Big Data ecosystem, most of which is devoted to improving the vast business of guesswork we call advertising, flowing outward increasingly through digital media.
I love how Doc so eloquently states the blinding flash of the obvious pursuit of meaningless efforts.
Ever wonder why marketers think it is important to collect followers, friends and “Likes”? The reason is it fits their outdated meaningless purposes to justify the cost of “hunting and capturing” people for the purpose of commerce. Ironically commerce doesn’t really work without a marketplace of willing buyers and suppliers. Marketers are playing the social game for the purpose of commerce. Buyers and suppliers aren’t social nor are they friends. They are after all simply buyers and suppliers and the important matters of meaning is how well “the marketplace performs”. Performance is a process issue that drives profit not the other way around.
The meaningful value we get from real friends is not the same as the value created from the marketplace of buyers and sellers. Value creation isn’t always tied to a transaction but it is always tied to serving the interest of others when we need them. The winners of today’s marketplaces are those that understand the principle of “service” whether there is a commercial transaction tied to it or not. Commercial organizations that understand these principles “create” friends by creating meaningful value.