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I’ve noticed a huge increase in friend requests on Facebook and invitations to connect on LinkedIn that come from logos, not faces. I don’t accept any of them, and here’s why: the word “social” precedes the word “media” for a reason. Social media is social. My Oxford American dictionary defines social thus:

1. of or relating to society or its organization; 2. concerned with the mutual concerns of human beings or of classes of human beings; 3. living in organized communities. tweet

Nowhere in that definition do the words corporation, brand, or enterprise appear. It’s all about human beings: their activities, their concerns.

So why should I be “friends” with a logo? I’ve ignored friend requests from restaurants, insurance companies, car dealers, and a host of other branded personal profiles. I’m looking for a human connection, and only then will I consider adding a connection to a brand represented by that human connection.

On LinkedIn, this seems even more egregious. I understand that many small business owners are solopreneurs, and their company brand and their personal identity can seem to be inextricably intertwined. However, I want to see and connect with the person. And then, based on my assessment of their talents/value/contributions, I might choose to follow their company.

But they have to convince me that they’re human first.

Major brands make the same mistake on a larger scale, and have since the enterprise emerged after the Industrial Revolution. That’s been the subject of both humor – “what’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA!” from Al Capp’s L’il Abner was inspired by Eisenhower SecDef and former GM CEO Charles Wilson’s Congressional testimony that included “what’s good for GM is good for the country” – and rage. The rage includes everything from the Motrin Moms mess, to the #epicfail that was the BP Deepwater Horizon spill aftermath, to the continued cluelessness of Wall Street and Washington about the ultimate betrayal that is “too big to fail”.

Corporations are made out of … people. Building are full of … people. People do business with … people. Brand loyalty is really driven by the actions of humans on behalf of their human customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2C, slinging sandwiches from a food cart, or B2B, slinging enterprise-level cloud services to Fortune 5s. You’re a human being, doing business with other human beings.

Lose sight of your humanity, and that of your customers, and you no matter how big you are, you’re destined to fail.

And please stop wasting my time with “friend” requests from logos. Be human, then be a brand.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it …

 

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