Gut Check: Is it REALLY H2H for Brands Today?

by Gregg on February 2, 2014

BesqgkTCQAAKKTX.jpg-large“There is no more B2B or B2C. It’s H2H: Human to Human.”

I’ve seen this slide a lot over the last 10 days or so, and it has elicited the following response each time:

Riiight.

That’s heresy among some of my professional brethren, but pardon me if I see this phrase as simply a pithy, silly quip that looks great on a PowerPoint slide or in a seminar but has little basis in the reality that we as marketing and branding professionals are actually creating.

In other words, are we living this for the most part, especially within the context of social business?

It should be easier than any other time in history, considering both mobile and social media channels that allow brands to engage with customers and prospects literally anywhere at any time.

And yet, I wonder if all we’re really doing is generating a bunch of content every quarter, pumping it out through Hootsuite and maybe responding when someone posts a true complaint but engaging little beyond that.

You know where you see genuine H2H? Head to your local hobby shop. I worked in that industry for years as an editor at Model Retailer magazine, and there you find shop owners who have developed a true community within their four walls, providing not only products, but advice and a place to work on their hobby. Unfortunately, a lot of great hobby shops have gone away in the last decade due to bargain-basement pricing on the Internet, but the community model – the actual engagement and connection - is what’s relevant.

Can this be replicated in the context of social business? Sure, but consider the following.

Social media, and really the Internet, is essentially a wall – you can’t physically see whoever is on the other side, and I think customers and prospects really want to know who they are literally dealing with on the other keyboard. Why? The customer or prospect is a person with needs and wants (as Bryan Kramer notes in this post), and not only for solutions to his or her problems. People are social animals and they want to connect with another person who at least tries to empathize with their situation. Like Bryan says, they want to understand, but I’ll add that more importantly, they want to be understood.

Thus, there’s a dualism here: The desire to deal with a person, and a person who “gets” them. That, to me, is the core of H2H. The brand that actually does those things in a social business context allows the customer or prospect to figuratively “see” who they are dealing with.

So I ask you: Are we doing that?

Maybe the larger question is whether we’re aspiring to H2H. Because I suspect that for a lot of brands, social business is just another to-do, a task to cross off an ever-growing list, instead of approaching it as the art and science of human interaction.

Because if we’re not doing it, or aspiring to it, phrases like the one in the photo are nothing more than fluff – something that tickles the ears but has no real substance.

Let’s hope not … because if it is, we’re all wasting a helluva lot of time. And time, in my opinion, is the biggest resource that can be wasted.

Image credit to www.bryankramer.com.

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