By Robert Russo, co-founder of Keycode.com
At the risk of restating the obvious by conceding that much of social media is anti-social, that technology in general is cold and impersonal – that only “insanely great” forms of hardware or software seem to exude a sense of warmth – I make the following declaration: If online commerce is to continue to thrive, if it is to prosper and retain the loyalty of consumers worldwide, then it must personalize its story, customize its service and humanize its identity.
Nowhere is this issue more important than among the many coupon comparison and promotional discount sites; because, when a transaction consists of nothing more than the entry of an alphanumeric code and confirmation of the billing address of a credit card, it is all too easy to forget – it is all too simple to neglect – to include a more intimate shopping experience.
That rule also applies to social media, where every business has infinite space, on Facebook, and an equal character-count, on Twitter, to communicate with substance and style.
And yet, too many businesses say too little, though they have a tendency to say the same thing too often, regarding their principles and beliefs.
I write these words from experience because, in my role as the cofounder of Keycode.com, I know how technology can perpetuate the anonymity of the Web.
I know how technology can further the feeling of aloneness – I know how automation and algorithms can supplant compassion and community – thus ruining the chance to make a lasting connection with consumers.
I know, therefore, what not to do.
I encourage readers to do likewise concerning social media, where they should decide to forgo posting a sentence fragment and a link; and instead, they should choose to write with depth and clarity – they should prove they can express themselves with conviction and transparency – so readers have a stake in this ongoing conversation.
Put another way, give consumers the content they deserve.
Join the dialogue by responding to every comment and tweet; and act like a professional by answering every question, and acknowledging the dignity of every fan, friend, follower, buyer or prospective customer.
Tell, in other words, your story.
Practice this exercise with regularity, so your business can evolve into a brand; perform these assignments, so your brand can have a voice that summons people to action, not an echo that sedates them into prolonged passivity.
Therein lies the “secret” of social media, that there is no secret: In lieu of false formulas and erroneous data, in contrast to the futile quest to quantify everything, embrace the opportunity to say something – anything – worthwhile and memorable.
Be a source of high-quality content, which elicits feedback from your audience.
Be the face of your brand by articulating the voice of your brand.
Be personable, and personalize your brand for the benefit of your company’s longevity and the strength of your own integrity.
These tasks are requirements, not menu items, to be optioned, canceled or controlled at your discretion.
These commitments are the key(code), so to speak, to earning the trust of consumers and encouraging their participation through social media.
These duties are the hallmark of accountability and responsibility, period.
Let us personalize this discussion, now and forevermore.