Your Most Valuable Assets Are: People

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by Susanna Gebauer (@dreckbaerfrau)

Looking at online businesses today, I sometimes get the feeling that many forget about the one most important purpose behind all online activity: The people.

Here are some examples of what happens when people are not part of the equation enough.

Relying on content specifications too much:

We create content for Google, Facebook, Pinterest and many others. We create content based on image sizes, keyword density and optimization and audience demographics. We spend more time on thinking up titles than thinking about our message. Shouldn’t we concentrate more on creating content from people for people?

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Speaking as humans to humans?

You cannot buy personality for your brand, but you can certainly cut down on it. It’s a dangerous path to take. Cheap and crap SEO content might get you some visits from Google (at least it did in the past, it is debatable whether that still works), but it can easily destroy your reputation and loose you trust with visitors to your site.

I don’t deny that maybe Google, Facebook and co still might have the people in mind. But creating content to game the algorithms in place seems to be forgetting why we do this in the first place: To speak to people, to attract people’s attention, to engage PEOPLE in a conversation and to convince PEOPLE to buy our product.

Hiring people based on “Social Media Expertise” rather than thinking about whether they are the right spokesperson for our company and audience.

When Copyblogger recently killed their Facebook Page (Jonathan wrote about that and Copyblogger took the time to comment), the first thought that came to my mind was that maybe the person responsible did not know what she was doing (this concern was raised by many others as well).

Totally wrong!

I had a look at Erika’s Facebook page and it is awesome. Do you know why? Because she has a very strong personality and this comes through on her page.  But her personality would not be close to what I would expect from a brand like Copyblogger. Her page is down to earth – Copyblogger is (from my perception) more serious.

Maybe she just wasn’t the right fit?

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Cheap or simply bad customer service

Trying to fill the point of personal contact with detached people often goes wrong: I guess we all have been on the receiving end of a call center conversation, where the opponent barely speaks our language and obviously knows less about the product we are talking about than we do.

Cheap and impersonal customer service is exactly that: Cheap.Looking at online businesses today I sometimes get the feeling that many forget about the one most important purpose behind all online activity: The people.

Jonathan wrote an article about the worst customer service we ever came across: A Social Media tool we really liked (and even recommended) but left for good, because their people (in customer service) simply sucked. By the way: Yesterday, I received another email from them, that they would love us to be part of their invitation only awards program – no way.

It was not really that they had a technical problem – after all we tried for more than a month to get them to solve the problem. It was the way they treated the issue. It was the way they treated us. They tried to convince us that there was no problem and that we were only seeing things that weren’t there.

The lesson to be learned: Be human at every point of contact

There are many points of contact where you can bring in personality: In Blog posts and comments, in customer service, in social media, in forums, on conferences and business fairs.

Somehow when crossing the border between real life and the web, companies and there employees often lose their personality. Trying to cut down on costs and time doesn’t help. While the web was created as a way of communication between people, today it sometimes seems like the web is facing a war fought by machines and tools.

But it’s the people who you interact with, who will make or break your brand. Your own people and your customers. It is people who connect, people who speak for or against you – and it is people who decide to buy or not to buy your products.

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