By Dan O'Brien | October 30, 2014

Your grandparents probably told you this, but I’ll say it anyway: no one’s listening but everyone’s sure talking.

There’s a ridiculous amount of content to consume, which is compounded by the fact that we’re all participating in the creation of it. We comment, post, like, tweet, yelp, fave, share, follow, star, poke, slap, wink, spank. Get-off-my-lawn rants compete with cats playing the piano. With so many people talking, things have gotten noisy as hell.

To rise above the din, today’s brands need to be more like a drinking buddy—unafraid to be vulnerable while offering up something smart, interesting or entertaining. No one wants to hang out with anyone self-absorbed and/or boring.

The smartest brands acknowledge there’s growing reluctance for customers to follow and join. They recognize that building followership requires fortitude, so they work toward being a genuine and organic part of the conversation. Winning brands are alive with hopes and dreams of being that drinking buddy people genuinely like and will stick around to hear what they say next. Because they know there’s a chance what they hear or read will make them feel smarter, happier, more connected, productive, richer, hotter.

The only thing to do is what those drinking-buddy brands already know: make the messages count and don’t give up. Stick to the principle of regularly and confidently speaking to people as humans who want to smile or be helped.

And do this:

  • Focus only the parts that matter. Meter your messages, make them singular and pith, one at a time.
  • Consider the quiet spaces even though there might be fewer people. Go for the open ears, low hanging fruit. They’re more apt to really listen.
  • Mix it up with elements of surprise so things don’t go flat. Be wary of going tone deaf.
  • Zero in on the purpose. The likes, shares, favs, and impressions will take care of themselves.
  • If it’s important enough (which it should be), be persistent. Don’t quit.
  • Be very wary of adding noise. Make every word count. Whenever you can, just do pictures.
  • Acknowledge that email can be a drag. Your email message better be quick and pithy. Let’s face it: dealing with it is the equivalent of raking leaves.
  • Stay authentic. Be genuine. Speak human.

And maybe dress a cat in one of those Flash Dance sweatshirts. And then douse it with a bucket of water.

 

-Dan

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