Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do You Have Passion For People?

Goodness, it's been a busy couple of weeks.  I've not been able to write as much as I'd like and the feeling is much like not having the vital, life giving cup of coffee in the morning: off kilter.

I've been keeping busy on a very large project which has been great.  One of the things I've been doing is scoping out Facebook pages of different restaurant chains to see what they do well and where they can improve.  I definitely have some favorites (Hi, Uno!) and then there are some that could use a little work...  we'll let them go nameless for their protection.

One in particular is a larger chain but its official FB page has little more than 400 fans.  The last time anyone posted anything on this page is September 19...  and it was a customer complaint about a closed location.  So, I found this little blurb just above the "information" box more than a little comical:

"We are passionate about People, Food & Place!"

I found it comical because if we put a claim like this out there in the socialmediaosphere (new word), we have to live up to it at least somewhat.  It may very well be that this is the experience inside any of this chain's units no matter where you are in the country.  But, if it's not the experience on FB (or anywhere online), then it's a tough claim to make online.  

And it makes me wonder why they've bothered in the first place.  It's almost better not to have a social media presence than to have one that looks to be lip service at best.  Somehow, to me, a lack of authenticity online is just like WRITING IN CAPS IN EMAIL.  It's jarring to the audience though it may not have been the intention.

In all fairness, I'm not in a position to criticize.  Our 678 Partners FB page (here) needs a little razzle dazzle in terms of look and feel, too.  But, I can say this: no matter how humble our page may be, we welcome all new "likers" by name in our status updates and we post relevant content to our services.  We also have great back and forth commentary based on what we post.  

But this isn't about us.  It's about the conversations we have and the relationships we choose to build regardless of platform.  Let's go back to the "People, Food & Place" example.  If one is truly passionate for people, then we have to make relationships to back that up.  Many say that it's the number of LinkedIn connections that matter and we've all seen people swiftly hand out business cards at events almost as if they are at swap meets.

Time and time again, I think back to a quote I mentioned in some earlier posts (here, here and here).  This part of the quote resonates with me now:  

"The new economy is not just about the exchange of information; it's about the exchange of relationships. Relationship management is nothing new, but with the advent of the internet as a communications infrastructure, it's more important than ever -- particularly at a time when there's more noise than ever."

And also, this Mitch Joel interview I mentioned in the second of those three posts also resonate here.  Here's one excerpt I'd like to call out again for you:

In a day and age where following, friending, or subscribing to anyone about anything is nothing more than a simple click away, there needs to be some time, effort, and thought put against the idea that being connected is basic and primal, but actually creating any level of engagement with an audience, community, or whatever you want to call whomever has agreed to follow or friend you, is a whole other ballgame.

If there is passion for people, do you make the time to build authentic relationships with them within the constructs of the online medium?  Do you elicit reaction, ask for opinion, share interesting piece of information, train/reward advocates, etc?  Do you show that you care?

I know we're all busy; that's a given in this multitasking age in which we live.  But, these relationships that we have with people who follow us are ephemeral at best.  We've got to feed and nurture them so that they have as much a stake in the relationship with us as we do with them.  

It's like a plant.  Sure, initially you want to make sure the pot is just so, that it's getting the right amount of light, that you water it just enough (not too much or too little), trim the leaves, check the soil, change the soil, etc.  But you always have to do that.  It may become routine but if you want it around and thriving it's got to be done.  It's not enough to remember to water it occasionally.  All of those other steps come are critical as well.

Are you watering your relationship plants?

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

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