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Every now and then someone will say something on Twitter that has an impact with me.  I saw such a tweet last week.  I only wish I had favourited it because I’ve been thinking about it all week and it has brought me to this article.  Now I can’t credit this sage person who made me think!

At any rate it went something along the lines of “I don’t follow a brand to connect with the brand, I follow to connect to the person behind the brand”

This steps into one of those long standing debates in social business:  If you work for a brand, who owns your followers and what to do if you leave?

I am not going to weigh in on that argument.  I’m more interested in the statement itself and the fact that it signals another significant change of the business/customer relationship. It’s a deepening of the idea that a brand needs to be “friends” with its customers.

Traditionally, large brands have always been large walls of marketing hype.  Even when successful (i.e. Levi, Coke, whatever) consumers have connected with the campaign rather than people. Now that social has given us the idea that we can be connected to anyone in the world through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, they have warmed to the idea that in supporting a brand we are connected to its people.

It creates a blurry line. Last year I wrote about individuals personal and professional lives blurring. This now extends out to the line between a brand and its representatives blurring. Who owns their followers is only part of the problem.

These are still the early days of the development of this but I believe it will become a bigger and bigger factor as time goes on.  As my current favourite saying goes “nothing gets old faster than the future” so it is an issue worth thinking about now.  Not just the problems it may present but rather the opportunities it affords.  If your customers want to be connected to real people dealing with real issues relating to your brand then provide that. Social marketing are forever going on about “opportunities to engage”.  This is one of them.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that this is one more important factor in building a community around your brand.


Picture Credit: David Castillo Dominici