Social Personification of an Entity

WhatAboutBobWhat a dry title for a post, eh? Maybe I should call it “The Lizard that Sells You Car Insurance”.

But this post isn’t about lizards because ewww. It’s about “those people” – the nameless, faceless people that run an entity or a function. Nameless, faceless people are always suspect. Those idiots at the DMV (for those reading who are not US-based, that’s the Department of Motor Vehicles), for example. Nameless, faceless people are often idiots who are blamed for bad things.

Guess what? To someone out there, you are part of a nameless, faceless group. Think of it in terms of your work-life. Those idiots in IT. Those idiots in Accounts Payable. Those idiots in HR. (Just a bit of advice – never utter “Those idiots in Payroll” where you may be overheard. Bad, bad idea. Don’t mess with Payroll!)

One definition of personification is making the inanimate come alive. We see it in advertising all the time – the Geico lizard, the Pillsbury dough-boy, the Jack-in-the-Box who sells us cheeseburgers.

What I’m talking about is a little different than that. I lead a group who are sometimes referred to as “those idiots in Purchasing”. Hi, nice to meet you. I’m the head idiot. I’m talking about the personification of a group or entity. Bring that group to life!

The truth is that Purchasing or IT or HR or AP are all made up of people and probably 87% of them are definitely not idiots. Nobody knows that, though, because they just see it as one big nameless, faceless entity.

Enter Social Business.

Social business is personal – it’s not just a company or a department or a function. It’s the people behind it – the names and faces of many non-idiots. It’s letting customers (internal and external) see those faces and learn those names and it’s about creating engagement, connection, understanding, and trust.

In my experience, when your group is nameless and faceless, no one has any trust in what they are doing. You could have the most brilliant minds ever steering the ship, but if nobody can see that captain or the crew, they think the ship is being tossed about on a corporate ocean at the random whim of the prevailing winds. They will not believe in the course you have set until they see and know the people who have set that course and are steering that ship.

Social business allows us to do that. Quit hiding behind a generic entity name. Encourage the captains and crews to step out on the deck and say “Hi, I am the captain of this ship.” or “I am the crew member who manages the sails.” or “I am the crew member who monitors the stars”. (That is the extent of my sailing knowledge all poured out in that metaphor. I learned all I know about sailing from the movie What About Bob. In other words, not much. Hey, I’m from Missouri – we don’t sail on the Mississippi, people!)

My team at work has gained significantly in awareness, engagement, understanding, and trust since my company has implemented the Jive social business platform. We have made ourselves visible and vocal. We’ve put on our listening ears and we’ve collaborated with our customers. We have helped and guided and explained. It’s not like I expect a point to come where we will no longer participate in this way – it will be ongoing. But – and this is the important part – the more people we reach, the more visible we are, the lower the number of people who refer to us as “those idiots in Purchasing”. They know our names and our faces, they know we are steering the ship and adjusting the sails and watching the stars.

Trust is the golden cup here. Social business via Jive is the means by which we achieve it.

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