What Brands Can Learn From Humans

2008-02-21-frat

A wise man once told me that if humans communicated with each other in real life, the way brands do with us online, we would have no friends. We’d all be yelling at each other “Hey! I’m awesome! Hey did you know I’m amazing? Hey PS check out what I own, check out what I do, check out what I am all about! Do I rock or what?”

This is the philosophy I believe Internet superstars live their life by. Authenticity. Most influential, full time bloggers and Youtubers didn’t know they’d be Internet superstars one day – they were just doing things they genuinely enjoyed.

Let’s take Hugh Podmore for example. Two weeks ago, the 20-something, nerdy, kite surfing, aspiring astronaut from Montreal put up a quirky ad on Craigslist, outlining what he wanted and what he was all about in a series of photographs.

In only a few hours of the ad going up, it was shared on Reddit where it gained more views and went viral. Thousands of messages poured into Podmore’s inbox from Reddit, Facebook, and Craigslist. Newspapers called inquiring the reason behind his creative ad. “I just wanted a roommate” he said. Authenticity.

Podmore didn’t tell everybody he was awesome. He didn’t beg for people to be his friends. He didn’t force or even ask anybody to share his ad. All of that happened naturally and organically, simply because he effortlessly came across as a genuinely cool person.

Authenticity is something many brands struggle with. Don’t ask people to like something on your page – create something likeable. Don’t beg for consumers to be your friends, offer them something valuable so they will want to be friends with you. Don’t try too hard to speak their language, stay authentic to your brand personality and core competencies as much as you can.

Working from behind a Facebook page, we often tend to forget that the consumers we are talking to on the other end are, at the end of the day, just humans, like us. Traditional advertising is a thing of the past, making genuine connections and creating authentic relationships will create brand advocates. And there’s no creative headline that can top a loyal, passionate brand advocate.

Authenticity is one of those “buzzwords” that people talk about all the time, but instead of making jokes about it, it is something we as brand managers should consider taking very seriously. What are some brands that you think do this well? How important is authenticity to you when interacting with a brand online?

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