Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day!

Each day, Facebook reminds me of friends’ birthdays, and I love seeing the well wishes everyone gives and receives to celebrate their entrance to the world. Yet something strange happened recently that made me pause. It was the day of a friend’s birthday. She was not someone I knew terribly well, but alas, we were Facebook friends. I did, however, note with sadness that this was the first birthday without her – she had passed away several months before.

Nevertheless, birthday wishes began streaming in from hundreds of people:

Have a wonderful day!

Cheers! Let’s get together soon!

Hope you’re enjoying a great birthday!

 Someone finally began notifying folks that she was no longer with us. It was the first time many of her Facebook friends found out about her death. I suppose many didn’t notice that her regular updates had abruptly ended, or even realized they hadn’t heard from her in a while. I’m saddened by the thought that, on the surface, we imagine we’re so connected through technology. But the reality is that many of us aren’t connected at all. Let’s do something about that.

What it means to truly connect

You’re friends on Facebook. You’ve connected on LinkedIn. You follow each other on Instagram. You think you’ve got a connection, but chances are, you scroll mindlessly through your feeds without really digesting what your friends and colleagues are saying. Next time you log on to the magical world of social media, be present and mindful. As you check out your feed, pause and ask yourself things like:

  • What is my purpose in showing up to this party today?
  • What is each of my connections bringing to the party?
  • What do I appreciate about each of them?
  • What are their unique passions and beauty? Can you tell who they really are based on what they share?
  • What do I hope to bring to each of my connections?
  • I am showing up as my authentic self, demonstrating my unique passions and beauty?

All of this comes down to one fundamental question: Would my connections notice if I stopped posting? Be honest.

What about brands?

Many of you reading this piece are responsible, in some way, for your company’s social media presence. Whether you’re a business owner, marketing director or brand manager, it’s up to you (and your agency, if you’re working with one), to make sure your brand is present in a meaningful way, and that you’re using social media as a platform to have conversations with your audience. So while personally, it’s a good idea to assess how you’re showing up (as outlined above), it’s just as important to ensure your brand is being a good member of the social media society.

  • Are my brand’s followers happy that they’ve done so?
  • What value is my brand bringing to their daily lives?
  • Are conversations happening – conversations that allow us to get to know each other?
  • Is my brand represented in an authentic way?
  • Is my brand building trust and loyalty in our interactions?

And once again, ask that fundamental question: If our followers stopped hearing from the brand on social media, would they care? If the answer is no, you’ve got some strategy work – and some listening – to do. Ask your followers how you could bring greater value on social media. Assess your authenticity and the trust factor. Consider whether your brand is offering solutions or answers for challenges and questions your audience faces on a daily basis. Be helpful. Be human. Be real. Pay attention. Connect rather than just showing up.