Friendship Redefined

I’m a huge advocate of social media (as you know) and how it has impacted the way brands market.  I love the connections that I’ve made from using Facebook and Twitter.  This blog has given me a platform to share my thoughts on faith, fatherhood and marketing.  Social has expanded our reach to across the country and in some cases around the globe.  I’m sure you’ve also seen the ability to reconnect with people you once thought you may have never been able to again.

However, with all of the positives I just mentioned, social has redefined the word “friend” hasn’t it?  Think about this…I have 1,177 friends on Facebook.  I don’t tell you that to brag, but as I look at that number, what real relationship do I have with all of those people?  Yes, there are a select few that I can say I have a deep friendship with but most of the others are people that I’ve come to know professionally, people I’ve come to know through Kensington, others are childhood friends and others are those from Michigan State.  Regardless, each group of people was significant for a certain period of my life but I can’t honestly say the friendship is nothing more than a casual friendship.

What I’ve learned and was reinforced this past weekend at Kensington Orion was that social media does a great job of expanding our friendships horizontally but often times causes the vertical depth of friendships to suffer.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been able to establish deep and meaningful friendships with some…Gini Dietrich and Justin Brackett are 2 great examples but those were able to grow because of the personal investment we made to get to know each other not only through our online interactions but also through in person visits and conversations.

As I’ve continued to think about this over the last few days I began to look at the friendships I have with other guys around me…or lack thereof.  I hope I’m not in the minority on this, but in conversations I’ve had with other guys in my circles (not a Google+ reference), many of us can only name maybe 1 guy that we feel comfortable enough sharing more than the surface level stuff with.  It must be a guy thing because I know this comes much easier for women.

Why is this important?
I mention all of this because of the message from Kensington Orion this week.  This past Sunday we talked about the 3 men in David’s life that…

…were committed
…were Christ like
…carried burdens

This group of men battled for each other and supported each other.  I want that in my life.  I also want that for the life of my sons.  I want other men, other than me, to pour into my boys and teach them what having strong male figures in their lives will do for them as they grow up to become men.  For me, I want a select few guys to be able to hold me accountable to my faith, to my marriage and be able to help me when I’m struggling.  This verse from Proverbs states it perfectly:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

Having these close relationships sharpens us, makes us better men, better husbands and better fathers.

What is my action step?  To invest in the relationships around me and pray that God reveals to me the open doors of friendships that will sharpen me and to make the vertical investment.

What about you?

Old Spice: Instant Case Study on Social Web Success

Absolutely hilarious.  That was my first thought as I started seeing the Old Spice guy make it’s way through my twitter stream yesterday.  Old Spice has taken it to the next level by having Isaiah Mustafa, also known as Old Spice Guy, respond by video to comments on its YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  What started out with a commercial has quickly turned into an instant case study on how to integrate the social web into a traditional campaign.

I’m always looking for ways to get the ideas and concepts behind the social web accepted.  Case studies certainly help.  The thing I find most interesting, however, is that these concepts really aren’t new.  If you are trying to “sell” a brand to a consumer, the best way to do it is by building relationships with the people you want to buy your products.  This typically means thinking about your consumer first and what their needs are.

If you think about traditional marketing methods, it generally begins with launch planning, big media spending to air a 30 second commercial, billboards, magazine ads, etc.  How can “we” (insert brand here) get our message out to the most people in the quickest way possible?  Oh by the way, we have our website, facebook page and twitter account that we can also use to blast our messages to everyone.

I do believe these still have merit but what I do think is that brands (my company included) need to go back to thinking about what our customers want and not what we want.  I was fortunate enough to sit in a presentation from Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer) today.  One of his final points was for marketers (today’s talk was geared towards GM and its divisions) to think beyond the web.  To me, this meant thinking about coming up with marketing and promotions that integrate all aspects of consumer touch points which includes the social web.

  1. What can we do to help people connect?
  2. What can we do to enhance their online or offline experience?
  3. What can we do to facilitate and encourage sharing?
  4. What can we do to drive them to the showroom?

These were great questions that I hope encourages all of us to go back to the basics of what (I believe) marketing is all about…the consumer.

Technology has given consumers the means to ignore traditional marketing methods today.  Think about the DVR and how many commercials you watch.  What are you Mr. Marketer going to do to not be ignored and get to know the people you want to buy your products?

For another great case study, check out Dave Murray‘s post “Case Study: ‘Salty’ Is My New Hero“.

Turning Vision Into Action

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s hard to believe we are half way through 2010!  Good thing for me, this time of the year usually signals a vacation and I’m so ready!

Anyway, in today’s post, I wanted to give you a quick update on something I talked about a couple of months ago, Detroit Reverse.  If you recall, from August 2 – 6, 500 students and leaders from the City and Suburbs will converge on the campus of Wayne State University.  They will stay in the dorms “with the goal of identifying destructive systems in our culture and building relationships that will fight against them.”

The vision for year one of Detroit Reverse is to build and grow relationships between 2 areas of southeast Michigan that have traditionally been at odds and made assumptions about one another.  The long term vision hopes this can grow into multiple locations over the next 5 years and truly having an impact on the community and the region.

Imagine just how impactful this will be.  500 people united and passionate about something and driving change in a region desperate for it.  Who knows, maybe this might have an impact on my Detroit Lions too!

Now how do you turn vision into action?  Well you can certainly help.  Sponsors are needed to help support our students financially.  It costs $149 per student to experience Reverse.  You can participate by donating online at the Detroit Reverse website.  Please consider helping out this group students by investing in their future.

“Like” Detroit Reverse on Facebook

Follow Detroit Reverse on Twitter

Have a great 4th of July and let’s celebrate our freedom to make an impact.

It’s In Your Hands

I was going through my Google Reader this morning and came across this beautiful post from Seth Godin:

When are you going to start acting like it?

The idea that you are a faceless cog in a benevolent system that cares about you and can’t tell particularly whether you are worth a day’s pay or not, is, like it or not, over.

In the long run, we’re all dead. In the medium-long run, though, we’re all self-employed. In the medium-long run, the decisions and actions we take each day determine what we’ll be doing next.

And yet, it’s so easy to revert to, “I just work here.”

Like most things I read, my mind starts to think.  Yes, I know that’s dangerous.  In a few words, Seth reinforces something that we all know already…we are responsible for making the most of what is given to us.  No other person can really determine our future except us.  Our future is in our hands.

It’s easy for me to feel like the “faceless cog” Seth mentions in his post,  especially working in such a large company like General Motors.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.  For example, most of you know how passionate I am about the internet, technology and especially the social web.  Although I don’t have responsibility for it at work, I’ve made it my hobby and brought it into my everyday life through my Twitter feed, Facebook, and this blog.  The work has paid off.  I’ve made some great connections with people in the social web community, been recognized as knowledgeable in the space by my peers and recently guest blogged on my friend Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks.  Other opportunities to guest blog have recently come and I plan to take advantage of those too.

My point in all of this is that the Social Web gives you a voice when you may have thought you don’t have one.  Networking, building relationships, providing value, etc. are ways you can build your own community.  The challenge is being patient enough to build your community and look for those opportunities to do what you love and are passionate about.

“If you build it, they will come.”  It’s in your hands.

UnMarketing To Your Audience

One of the advantages I’ve found with the social web are the unique opportunities to connect with people with a similar passion.  I’ve started following Scott Stratten, also known as @UnMarketing, a while ago but really started getting to know him once I heard he was coming to Detroit for his UnBook Tour on September 28th during the monthly meeting for Social Media Club Detroit.

The following interview happened during South by Southwest earlier this year.  Scott responds to the following:

  • How can you tell a marketing campaign was successful?
  • How do views on a video translate into sales?
  • What can you do to get people to pay attention these days?
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the spirit of UnMarketing?

I completely agree with his thoughts (big surprise) on the value of building relationships, setting objectives to measure success, and having fun and being personable.

Don’t Forget to Celebrate!

On Sunday, we celebrated the 7th birthday of my oldest daughter, but we made it bigger than just Sunday.  Credit to Julianne in making this more than just a one day event.  It was a joy to see Gina’s face as she opened gifts throughout the weekend.  It started with her soccer game on Saturday to the gifts she opened on Sunday.  Highlight of yesterday was when she found out there was a trampoline in the back of my car (I use “highlight” only in relation to her…I had to put the thing together)!  The birthday culminates this Friday as 10-12 first graders will be at our house for a sleep over…I wonder if Julianne will notice if I leave?????

Birthdays are celebrations of individuals and it was a proud moment for me as a dad to see the smile that was brought to my daughter’s face when people showed their love and care for her.

Once the craziness subsided, I reflected a little bit on this.  Do we take the time to celebrate the big and small victories in life?  Sometimes I think we run so fast and only focus on the “emergency of the moment” that we forget what really needs our focus are the good things in life.  More than anything, we need to celebrate people.  I believe people have the innate need for reinforcement and encouragement.  As a parent, I witness this first hand with my 4 kids.  When they get positive reinforcement from me, I can see their eyes light up and see their confidence grow.

How do you bring this to business?  Employees and customers all need to feel a level of acceptance.  Relationships need to be built and cultivated.  For me, it always will be about people more than a product.

Your turn…what do you think?  Let me know in the comments below!

Unity is Relational

What if you could get 250 kids from the suburbs and 250 kids from the city together for one week in August?  What if you could get these 500 kids to serve on both sides of 8 Mile, the imaginary wall that divides metro Detroit?  What if for a moment you believe that high school kids could start a revolution in metro Detroit that unites the region?

There are no “what ifs” about it.  This can happen and IS happening this August at Wayne State University.  500 high schoolers will descend on Detroit August 2 – 6 to participate in a revolutionary camp that hopes to break down barriers and transform this area into a region united.  This is Detroit Reverse 2010.

Tonight I attended the kick off for Detroit Reverse.  It was amazing.  It was amazing to see 10 bus loads of kids from the “burbs” come to Detroit and hang out with local teens from the city.  They just hung out like most teens do.  They played basketball together.  They danced together.  They worshiped together.

At the end of the night, you had the 3 leaders of Second Ebenezer Church, Citadel of Faith Covenant Church and Kensington Community Church on stage arm in arm and praying together.  Praying that this movement among our local teens will serve the bigger purpose of uniting a region that has been so divided and has suffered from some of the worst economic hardships in recent history.  You also had a few hundred students standing together and building relationships with one another.  These are the relationships that are going to matter and make a difference.  It will be through these relationships that change will happen.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to be a part of this.  Detroit Reverse is about unity and building relationships.  I look forward to supporting this group of students as best I can up until August 2 – 6.

What can you do?  What are you willing to do?  What if…?