Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1 Is The Loneliest Number

As you read in my last post, I spent a glorious three days last week at #unGeeked.  If you've never been to one, I recommend that you go -- not only for the discussions but the friends that I know you will make.  There were a bunch of great sessions about storytelling, branding (personal or otherwise), content, community, trust and a whole lot more.

Since then, I've been absorbing everything I heard.  And today, I read this interesting post by Sam Fiorella  which has helped to crystallize my thoughts further.  I don't want to do his writing disservice but net net the post is about the foundations of consumer trust in this new social economy.  I recommend reading it if you've a moment.

All of us like, share, stumble, tag, broadcast, podcast, post, tell stories and do a lot of other attention seeking things that tell a lot of people that we are individually active, like to engage and are eager to always. add. value. where. possible.  In other words, There's no time to hear what you think of me because I'm too busy telling you what you should think of me.  This is not only true of individuals but organizations as well.  It is a one sided conversation.

Sharing is caring but it is not connecting.

In Sam's post, he suggests four things to build trust with customers: a compelling value proposition, relationship building, establishing transparency and demonstrating vulnerability.  And he's spot on with all of them.  He goes on to conclude that it's not that businesses earn trust so much as customers decide to grant it to them.  He's right and yet I would go a bit further.

I would like to add the consumers decide to grant trust because they feel a connection to the businesses trying to serve them.  This can be through one or all of the product, customer service, shared values, quality, etc.  Some may say it's semantics but connecting is something I think none of us are doing enough of (or well) these days with some notable exceptions like My Starbucks Idea.

I'll admit to being a little old school.  I believe in using every social platform as a filtering device as opposed to an amassing device.  That whole Dunbar's Number thing makes sense to me along with a dash of Pareto.  I still like in person meetings if only for 30 minutes or so.  I don't seek an astronomical number of LinkedIn connections.  And, while my ego would love a bajillion Twitter followers, ultimately, it's just not how I roll.  And I'm okay with that.

Consequently, I worry that some people confuse "content" or "experience" with connection.  They are not the same things.  They don't even live on the same street.  My focus group of one opinion is that these words are said and written too much.  And now, they have kind of lost their meaning.

Content isn't just some romance copy that fills an empty space.  

It's meant to be the start of a connection between two parties.  It's an appetizer, it's a teaser and it's a promise of things to come if the customer decides to listen on the path to ultimately granting trust.  And so, the beginning of the connection should be nurtured and protected not unlike an infant.

So as all of us like, share, stumble, tag, broadcast, podcast, post, tell stories and do a lot of other attention seeking things that tell a lot of people that we are individually active, let's also remember that it's not always meant to be a one to many.  A one to one is perfectly fine too.  It just shouldn't be one.

I'd love your thoughts on here as well as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or (dare I say it) in person.  Please also share this with your friends if you'd like to do so.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef



  1. Parissa:

    Good stuff! I like Sam's four guiding principles. I have a fifth, but I will wait until Friday night to share it with you when I meet you live at Havana (Chicago) for a drink.


  2. Demonstrating vulnerability is a fascinating one, especially when you start thinking about how to execute on it. I know that sounds 'un-genuine' but what I mean is that we all have gaps - and disaster preparation (closing those gaps) in meaningful ways that are true to yourself and your customers, will notch up the trust level quickly. Thanks!