Personal approach wins in social

Social media, and in many cases digital media, is all about personality. Who you are, and why I, as a person, consumer or influencer should care enough about what you say to interact. So why then is so much social, well, unsocial.

Case in point are profiles that use the royal “we” approach to communication. You know the ones, where the author talks about themselves, from achievements to pet peeves, in the third person.

It’s the online equivalent of meeting someone at a networking event and instead of introducing yourself, come out with: “Michelle is very pleased to meet you. She has been looking forward to this event for some time. Her health is fine, thanks for asking.”

I even encountered this in an email out of office message – Fred is away until February 4. If you can’t bring yourself to type I for your email account, well …

Another bug bear is automated responses that by their very nature are impersonal. You see them in almost every online situation, from “thanks for following me on Twitter, here’s a link to whatever I’m selling” to “I’m away from the office but your call is important to me”.

This second example is a case of what I call “fake social” – a generic message that attempts to be personal but fails miserably. While not strictly digital I encountered possibly the worst case recently via one of those frustrating automated phone prompt programs. Following me throughout the countless menus was a calm, comforting voice, “I will guide you through the menu”, “I will just connect you to the billing department but I will stay with you.” What a crock. Why even pretend there is someone on the line, no one is falling for that.

Perhaps even more annoying is the generic email response, “Thanks for your (insert noun here)” sent from Not only does this person not care enough to acknowledge you as a person rather than an IP address, they don’t want you to continue the conversation either.

As an individual I choose never to engage with someone who takes the third person approach. In business I don’t always have the choice, but if presented with two alternatives I think you can guess which way I go.

I wonder how many people think like me?

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