Don’t forget to be human

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation.” His new book “CTRL ALT DEL” comes out in May 2013. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Technology makes it easy to…

  • Say “no.”
  • Ignore somebody.
  • Speak your mind without looking someone in the eyes.
  • Be “off the cuff.”
  • Quit.
  • Brag.
  • Be greedy.
  • Spam people.
  • Be rude.
  • Blow someone off.
  • Close yourself off from the opinions of others.

Don’t let technology makes us less human.

From countries falling and people starving, to weather warnings and seeing people we admire call it quits — life isn’t always easy. In the end, we only have each other (and I’m not just talking about your family, friends, and close ones). All of us are in this together.

I’ve often raged against the machine that tries to splinter what goes on in here from what happens in our protein forms (you can read more about that right here: The Real World). While I may not be great at thanking everyone who retweets something I’ve put out on Twitter, or responding to something that was posted on Facebook, I do my best to acknowledge my appreciation for all of the interactions and connections that happen in these digital channels.

Along with that…

I do my best to conduct myself professionally in the online channels — much in the same way I do in the offline channels. What does this mean? Someone recently asked me if I would be willing to review their resume. While I’m always happy to help a friend out, I let them know that I have not looked at a resume in a very long time and I currently don’t have one. When pressed for what I would do if I needed a resume, I replied that anyone interested in knowing about who I am, my work experience, and what I’m all about and capable of can do so with a very simple online search. That’s me. When pressed for what I would do if I needed to learn more about someone else (with full disclosure that I don’t touch HR at Twist Image), I had the same response.

For my money, there’s no better resume than a blog, a Twitter feed, or a Facebook page. That’s me. That’s how I think. Anybody can fill an 8 1/2 x 11 white page with accolades about their accomplishments. It takes a very different person to constantly and consistently build credibility through these online channels.

Be human.

Being human doesn’t mean that you have to divulge every little personal bit of information about yourself. It’s not about exposing the world to your personal life. It also doesn’t mean that you have to reveal everything about your professional life and what you’re going through. How much you reveal has nothing to do with acting in a human… and a humane way. People often confuse this and they shouldn’t. The brands that attract us most are the brands that speak to us (as individuals). Brands are not people, but brands can act in a human way by leveraging the power of the individuals that work for them. We’ve seen this magic happen.

Sadly, we’ve also seen this fail when brands think that corporate speak and marketing mumbo jumbo is the way to connect. If you do anything over this coming weekend, ask yourself this: How can I act more “human” and real in these online channels? Bonus question: How can the brands I represent be more human too?

True success in digital marketing is about being human. It’s not everything, but it’s a great place to start.

About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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