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How to be human in a digital world

Barry Krause
CEO & Founder
Suite Partners

Companies aren’t social. People are.

If you are seeking deeper social connections, you should start by considering the elements that you value in human-to-human relationships. Behave in a similar fashion in your brand-to-human relationships. Less sell, more tell. And listen. Really listen. Then respond with action that shows that you care.

We have found three valuable keys to success:

Keep it candid. First and foremost, consider the imperative we learned from the hip-hop movement: Keep it real. Yes, before Enron or Obama, the hip-hop music industry hyped truth telling. Many wrote this off as jive talk, but in truth it offered an important lesson. Be transparent and authentic.

In my opinion, hip-hop didn’t become the fastest musical form to go global in history due only to the simplicity of its beat. The universality of its message urged people to see beyond rose-colored lenses, tangled-talk trappings and convoluted, high-drama over-think. People appreciate authenticity.

Show up live. What is a fan or friend worth in today’s social media maze? Does a click for a free coupon create a valuable friend or produce a desirable return on investment?

Every valuable relationship needs to be nourished.

One powerful way to achieve this is though brand actions that disarm and enchant people, providing what Guy Kawasaki calls surprising acts of hospitality and delight. Stop interrupting what people are interested in doing and instead integrate your brand into experiences that interest people. Show up in peoples’ lives when they can really use what you have to offer.

Make a statement. In today’s world of marketing proliferation, it’s not enough to show up. You have to make an impression. To ensure consideration and ultimately shift behavior, you can’t dabble with social interactions. You need to wow people with reality. Give them real news, real solutions, real benefits. Any part of a brand story that doesn’t wow your audience will only detract from the potency of your message. Lose the fluff and intensify the good stuff.

Being human in a digital world is about ensuring that your brand has a heartbeat, a soul and a conscience. It’s about being in touch with the human condition today. It all comes down to a simple, ancient, low-tech idea: Brands that treat people in the manner they wish to be treated will win in the digital age.

So, how do you be more human? BE more human.

Barry Krause is CEO and founder of Suite Partners, a producer of original YouTube programming that combines live reality and live-streaming digital to deliver compelling messages to brand audiences. He served as chairman, CEO-Publicis and president-Hal Riney & Partners Heartland. To learn more about Chicago-based Suite Partners, visit or

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Marilyn Ritter
Posted Apr 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Adding to your observations; 1) Video conference arenas such Google + Hangouts can give you real time & real life contact and engagement. I can attest that meeting a person face to face after G+ Hangouts feels very comfortable & certainly never like meeting someone for the first time! 2) Interacting thoughtfully on threads in any social media is a powerful engagement tool. It's a 2 way street to give and receive meaningful feedback.

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