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Humility R Us

by Dan Robles on July 28, 2009

Many companies are flocking to Social Media as the great new tool for pitching products.  The results have been mixed; there are winners and there are losers.  At first, there was no clear path toward certain success but now the differences are becoming increasingly clear. Humility is rewarded and arrogance is punished.

If “Nice guys finish last,” is the mantra of the old world, then “The last will be first,” is the motto of the new.  To understand why humility works in social media, we need to understand what humility is.

Cashing the Reality Check

Humility does not mean looking down on oneself or thinking ill of oneself.  It really means not thinking of oneself very much at all.  The humble are free to forget themselves because they are secure.  So when they mess up, the humble don’t have to cover up.  They have nothing to hide.

All this is simply a way of saying that the humble are in touch with reality.  If the definition of insanity is being out of touch with reality, then in the old world, “nice guys finish last” illusion is clearly insane.

Strength in numbers

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  And since they have nothing to prove, they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  Humility leads to meekness.  And meekness is not weakness.  Rather, it is strength under control, power used to build up rather than tear down.

You can’t buy happiness

Back in the early 90’s, I worked on an ad campaign in Hollywood.  The producer told everyone; “The objective of this commercial was to steal the thing that people love about their self, and sell it back to them for the price of the product”.

The marketing message has been for many years much along those lines.  Make people believe that they need something that they don’t.  Make people believe that they can buy happiness, love, and community.  Make people believe that reality is something that can be escaped.

Rising Tides float all ships

The great brand messages, the successful blogs, and the viral communications in social media all have one thing in common.  They provide true and real value to the most people.  They produce correct and practical insight for the most people. They empower the most people to help their selves.  They amplify the priorities of the most communities. They help the most people to be successful in their clear and present reality.

Soul Searching

Ironically, it will take great introspection in the hearts of many corporate brands that follow the old rules of marketing.  These corporations need to look backwards into their own corporate philosophy and business plan to re-identify what they represent and how they represent it.  This new identity must reach into R&D to define what innovations are developed and what features they provide.  This cannot and will not be easy for most.

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  Likewise, when Brands are humble, they too are strong and they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  The power of social media is to build up rather than tear down.

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