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Where Do You Belong?

by Gavin Heaton  |  
March 7, 2007
Tim MasiGuy Jackson is an unusual and charming chap. He is one of a kind. He wears his heart on his sleeve and his favorite brand in his name. And today he celebrates TWO years of blogging (well actually it was sometime over the weekend)... and in his post he talks about the way that he has met and become friends with a whole range of people.

He even said that some had become like family ... (even if we are weird or dysfunctional -- but I think we all know who he was referring to there ;)). The meeting place for Tim's family is not the dining room table or the campfire, but his blog.

I've been addicted to you..
Originally uploaded by interpreter.

And it made me think ... I, too, have made some great friends through blogging -- many of whom I have never met. Many of them are regular readers and posters here at MarketingProfs. But does the fact that we met online change the nature of our relationship? Does this make a blog-friendship better or worse than an old-school friendship?
Furthermore, what does this mean for brands and the way that consumers engage and interact with them? And the more that I thought about this, and the more blogs I surfed to, the more traces of BSP were found ...

David Armano has a thought-provoking piece on shared experience and intimacy. David is well-loved and respected because of his willingness to push himself, ask hard questions (of himself and us all) and to bring his personal views and sense of the world into the blogosphere. And in this post, DA does so again, teasing out the flavours of a personal moment and making it applicable to us all.

John Dodds also has a very interesting post on how you get people to notice you -- and while he is talking about the "future of advertising", he ends up at the same place -- intimacy. For John, that deep connection, or an intimate relationship, is about details not about big ideas. You know, I am sensing a congregation of ideas ...

And so, serendipitously, I am trolling through my old draft article list and I find two links in the body of a post. One is this -- I found it around Christmas time when I was having a most harrowing time. It struck a chord and I thought that I would return to it at some point. Both articles deal with sincerity and authenticity -- with intimacy and engagement.

As marketers we all talk about engagement and about conversation... but perhaps we are really striving for intimacy, for details, for a way to map out the thin but vital connections between us? Perhaps this IS what we want as bloggers, but do Marketing Directors or CMOs want this? Funnily enough, I think the answer is NO... but on the other side of the coin, on the consumer side, there is little doubt that we are seeking a place to belong.

The connections we make, the conversations we participate in, the moments and memories that strengthen our bonds can occur on and offline. What I sense is a blurring of our different modes of being. For those of us who still think there are boundaries between on and offline, the implications are profound. For a younger generation, the implications have been lost in the rapid merging of adoption, expression and identity -- there simply are no questions to consider.

But what I do know is that the longer I interact, learn, play, laugh and argue with this community, the surer I feel that I have a place of belonging. Where do you belong?

Why, you belong here with me.

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Gavin in VP & Principal Analyst with Constellation Research Group. He possesses extensive international experience in driving measurable outcomes via digital customer experience platforms, digital strategy and executing innovative content driven campaigns. With a background in enterprise technology innovation, digital strategy and customer engagement, Gavin connects the dots between disruptive technologies, enterprise governance and business leaders.

Most recently, Gavin led the customer experience, communication and social media programs for SAP's Premier Customer Network. And over the last 15 years, he has been at the forefront of innovative digital strategies for some of the world's leading companies - from IBM to Fujitsu - and on the agency side, leading the global digital strategy for McDonald's.

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  • by Lewis Green Wed Mar 7, 2007 via blog

    Gavin, Links, I think, fulfill your writing schema of offering surprises. So I clicked on the link above and was delivered to definitions of authenticity and sincerity. Without revealing the surprise, I suggest that sincerity absent authenticity is fake and will not deliver the goods for marketing. If it is true that marketers don't seek to understand their customers' innerselves or to reveal their own, the job of meeting customers' wants and needs falls into the hit or miss category and customers will create their perceptions of our business without enough information to form an honest perception. That can't be good. Finally, I believe making friends online is just as real as making them in a bar, on the court or at the beach. If we speak with an authentic voice.

  • by Tim Jackson Wed Mar 7, 2007 via blog

    Wow, Gavin, I am totally and sincerely touched and honored to be listed in the same post as David and John. In the same week that Toby mentions me too... if I wasn't such a total dork, I'd have a huge head right about now. Blogging has been one of the highlights of my professional career. I have gotten so much from it and have grown professionally from it. I can never see not blogging (or whatever it morphs into in the future). I have learned, and really believe it to be true, that it is the human touch that has helped me in my job. Blogging has given me the chance and avenue to relate on a very personal level with my customers/ community and get very useful feedback for developing the brand. It's been perfect. Gavin, I am a little upset that you are trying to take over my position of Group Hug Guy. Thanks again for the mention.

  • by Toby Wed Mar 7, 2007 via blog

    Gavin, I love your line - "The meeting place for Tim's family is not the dining room table or the campfire, but his blog." For me the light bulb moment, that blogs could be more than just a vehicle to exchange a few ideas, came at BlogHer 2005. I saw (and was one of) the many women (and men too) who ran to hug people 'met' online. The realization that a group people who (for the most part) 'only' shared an online exchange could feel so connected was a big surprise. As a marketer, my thoughts were this might be a way to rebuild, what I call, the 'corner grocery store relationship' if it can carried over to the way we market brands and build loyalty. We still have a long way to go to convenience many that social media is a credible and important strategy that should be given a place at the marketing table. Thank you Ann for building a safe community that encourages dialogue around those issues. Tim - congrats! on year 2 of blogging.

  • by Tammy Strnatka Wed Mar 7, 2007 via blog

    First, Congrats Tim!!!! I spend my day writing copy hoping to get the consumer to buy a Valentine's Day gift or a Mother's Day gift at various different shopping malls. I don't represent individual stores, just the mall as a whole. I think about the demographics and try to appeal to their shopping cravings. I'm not a mall person so it's weird to imagine myself talking to someone that wants the latest fashions or got-to-have-it gadgets. Sometimes find myself wanting things I don't need when I try to get into that mindset. I write for many malls all over the U.S. so I'm not sure how to address my customers (as opposed to clients) about shopping preferences while remaining within the boundaries of professionalism. Do you guys think I could start a blog aimed at shopping mall addicts? I say addicts with admiration and respect. Could I get intimate with these people? I know you're going to say yes so how? My blog so far has been a mishmash of nothing in particular - It's an exercise in descipline to post something. I love the people on this blog - group hug By-the-way I got an email from Ben Davis appologizing for turning me off to LESS. I haven't responded yet. Just another example of how people on-line reach out to each other in unexpected ways. Thanks, I hope this makes sense within the context of this blog. I find the intimacy I have experienced since I began trolling blogs has been relatively easy. Most people are friendly and open. It's very refreshing in an often sad and cruel world.

  • by Paul McEnany Wed Mar 7, 2007 via blog

    Gavin- Damnit, I think at some point we're just going to have to have a full fledged get together, and figure out how the hell to get you stateside. I'll promise you this, you get stateside, and I'll get to you, man. Deal?

  • by Ann Handley Wed Mar 7, 2007 via blog

    Great post, Gavin, and well-stated. Anyway, my favorite families are dysfunctional! However, I think Tim might have upstaged you with this line, though... "Gavin, I am a little upset that you are trying to take over my position of Group Hug Guy."

  • by Gavin Heaton Thu Mar 8, 2007 via blog

    Tim is always upstaging me! Though I think I am more of a one-on-one hugging kinda guy ;)

  • by Tim Jackson Thu Mar 8, 2007 via blog

    Jeesh... you make me sound like the attention-starved shameless self-promoter that I actually am. Thanks!

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