Treating people like people

When you start treating people like people, they become people.  ~Paul Vitale

Social media is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the world of business. The consumer controlled conversations happening online are literally reshaping the way brands are perceived.  Consumers have more power today than ever before in history.  You’d think that would be a good thing.  You might even think that everyone from marketing managers to CEOs would be mining those conversations to get a “ground zero” view of how their brand is perceived.

Instead a common reaction to this burgeoning phenomenon – other than the popular ignoring it and hoping it will go away – is to try desperately to depersonalize social media which  is – by nature – a truly personal phenomenon.

Figures Lie and Liars Figure

One way to depersonalize social media is to focus upon the stats.  Make sure you only pay attention to statistics that can be easily imported into impressive PowerPoint graphics like graphs and pie charts.    Focusing on visitors, RSS subscribers and comment numbers is a great way to depersonalize your blog.

The bean counters in companies love stats – and quit honestly statistics have value – but allowing statistics to take center stage is a great way to depersonalize your social media presence.

One of the first places I start when I work with a client is to get a handle on the “stats” of their web presence.  I once had a client who had a 75% sign up rate for her email newsletter who contacted me because she wanted to change the copy one her web site to “improve” her newsletter sign up numbers.  Instead of changing her copy – we took a look BEHIND the stats.  She wasn’t getting a lot of traffic to her site – but the traffic she was getting was tightly targeted and very interested in her products and services.   The stats in this case gave us an opportunity to dig deeper – and discover what the “real” problem was.

The “real” problem – by the way – was that she had been making the rounds of the “internet marketing gurus” who were promising her quick, exponential, sustainable and profitable business growth.  (The preceding statement is an intentional oxymoron.  No morons were harmed in the creation of that statement.)

By digging into the “stats” – we could see that she was on track to create slow but sustainable and profitable growth.

Bots – Bots – Bots

Another way to depersonalize social media is to employ bots – automated programs which are poor attempts at mimicking human behavior.  Bots can be do -gooders.  Without bots you’d have no way to find the content you want on the trillions of pages available online.  However, bots can be evil.  Bots are why you have to enter characters displayed in an image to access content across the web.

In the early days of social media – you could purchase a bot program which would automatically go through and “befriend” people on MySpace.  Launch the program today and by next week you could have thousands of MySpace “friends” for your business. The problem with this strategy is that none of those “friends” – none of those connections – were “real”.

Those easily gained connections were great for the stats – they were great for inflating super sized egos – but they were absolutely awful when it came to conversions.

The real value of a blog for your business.

Blogs are great for your business because you can begin composing the never ending story of what your business does for real people.  As you create those blog posts they can actually rise to the top of long tail search queries – you know, the kind of search queries made by prospective customers who are seeking real information before they make an online purchase.

Then – when people who are actually looking for the products and services your business offers can – GASP- actually make a connection with you via your blog.   They can read – and then – they can ask a question – make a comment or even subscribe to your RSS feed to see when you share more information they need to know in order to buy.

So often – in the “web world” – we are guilty of using the term “visitors” or “users” instead of calling them what they really are – PEOPLE. In her blog post The Benefits Of Visualizing Your Future Customers, Cath Lawson shares that visualizing your future customers is a technique used by some of the most successful people in the world.  She points out that by visualizing your customers – as people and not faceless “visitors” – you can begin to shape your business to meet your customer’s needs.  I go on and on about the subject of viewing your customers as people with Goals – Desires – and Problems (GDP) and how to create marketing messages which speak to your target audience’s GDP in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results.

You can’t expect a mindless bot to generate an insightful diagnosis based on a simple log file analysis.  However, when you start treating social media like it’s powered by people – people who want real connections – you’ll find social media is literally a goldmine of information you can use to connect with customers and build your business.


  1. Hi Kathy – Bravo. This is so true. Inflated stats do nothing to help your business, aside from making it look as though you’re more popular than you are. And some folk spend more time fiddling their stats than they do growing their businesses.

    You just need to check out the bounce rates for some of the so called popular sites to see that few folks hang round to long.

    Now your friend with a 75% email opt in rate was lucky. I would have that anyday, instead of a whole heap of random traffic.
    .-= Cath Lawson´s last blog ..Shoply – A New Place To Sell Your Stuff Online =-.

  2. Unfortunately – it’s usually quite easy to tell which bloggers are obsessed about their stats and which ones are focusing on delivering content to their audience. I’ve got to say – you’re a blogger with a HUGE following who has NEVER given even the slightest hint that you are a blogging superstar!

  3. Very true Kathy. The stats only tell part of the story, and often distract from the “real” story. As Cath says, inflated stats may make you look more popular but it doesn’t take long to dig a little deeper to find that the numbers are somewhat superficial.

    100 loyal followers who appreciate and use your services/knowledge/products is much more meaningful and valuable than 1000’s who don’t.
    .-= Nicola Connolly´s last blog ..SEO Tips- Links for efficient CRO Conversion Rate Optimisation =-.

  4. LOL Kathy – you’re too kind. And you’re way too modest about the contribution you make the the blogosphere. I took a lot of months off this year for personal reasons – so I think a lot of folk see me as “not a real blogger”.

    You can’t get too obsessed with stats – my traffic plunged when my blog had a virus and Google doesn’t seem to want to refind my posts. But things will work out in the end.

    Thanks for the link BTW. By the time I read a post, I always forget there was a link there.
    .-= Cath Lawson´s last blog ..New Business Mistakes- The Hidden Startup Killers =-.