The web represents huge opportunities for start-up entrepreneurs to humanise their organisations. This makes us much more likable and trustworthy than the bigger corporates we may face as competitors. International speaker Jay Baer was the social media keynote at the recent National Growth Summit and he introduced a brilliant concept called the ‘humanisation highway’. It is simply a five-step journey that we go on where we gradually humanise our businesses: 1. Ignoring This what most companies are doing right now. Nearly everyone has heard of social media but most simply don’t use it yet. It may be fear, anxiety, lack of time, lack of resources or simply lack of interest. Or perhaps you have set yourself up with social media accounts but they are lying dormant and neglected. 2. Listening All this involves is setting up Google Alerts and logging into your accounts on a regular basis to see what is going on. If you’re at this stage of the journey you are likely to be following a handful of people you like of Twitter, Facebook and you may follow certain blogs. If you simply listen, you’re putting yourself ahead of most of your competition because at least you know what is going on. This stage can be very exciting because you can see the power of the community and you’re possibly thinking about taking the next step. 3. Responding This is where you stop lurking and you get involved. It’s often the scariest step mentally because you’re no longer anonymous and you’re putting yourself out there for all the world to see. It’s also the shortest stop because you realise there was nothing to worry about. It’s actually quite fun and the business benefits are enormous. Tools like Google Alerts and Twitter Search make it really easy to keep track of what people are talking about, so you are in the position to respond to conversations, which normally means replying to tweets or leaving comments on a blog. 4. Participating If you have a blog and you use all the usual social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn on a regular basis, then you’re a rock solid participant. The key difference with this phase is that you are ‘contributing content’. The rule of thumb online is that 90% lurk, 9% respond and 1% contribute. Congrats on being in the top 1%. 5. Story Telling The final and ultimate stop on the ‘humanisation highway’, and it is where you are actively contributing and sharing compelling stories. Stories that take the shape of blog posts, YouTube videos, e-books, podcasts, emails, infographics and webinars that people simply ‘have to’ share with their friends and colleagues. This is how you earn your true fans, and the reward is that they start spreading the word for you via tweets, Facebook likes, email forwards and blogging. When you become a master storyteller, then you’ve well and truly humanised your organisation! For more information to guide you on this humanisation journey, you may like my free e-book Web Strategy Secrets.
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