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Human to Human #H2H

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why do we share? What happens when we share? Byron quizzes Bryan Kramer, author of Human to Human #H2H, on these questions. Learn how to make content more likable and shareable, and find out why mistakes are important in this space. Bryan is the CEO of PureMatter, frequent speaker and host of the #H2H Twitter chat. He's been named a top 25 Influencer to Follow by Forbes, and is a featured contributor on SocialMediaToday.com, Business2Community and IBM Social Business. Read more about Bryan at http://www.bryankramer.com/.

            Byron:                   Welcome back everyone. I’m here with Bryan. Bryan, welcome.

            Bryan:                   Hey, how are you doing?

Byron:                   I was reading over your release here and it describes you as the ‘world’s foremost most leader in the art and science of sharing.’ How were you able to get a title like that? That is remarkable.

Bryan:                   I am in marketing. I don’t know if I actually made that up though. I think I was announced that way in some publication I can’t remember which one…Actually, it was in Forbes. I wrote a book on shareology called ‘Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy’ and I put a ton of research into what, where, when, how, and why people and brands share. I interviewed over 250 plus people in all walks of life and put a formula together and outlined it in a book. So I have a feeling it may have come from that, but who knows.

Byron:                   Bryan, you also run an agency and you bridge this gap and seen the importance of writing as a critical component to your own success. Can you tell us about your desire and thirst to take on such challenges, as publishing two books…We’re going to talk about Human to Human as well. Where did you learn to write and where did you develop this fascination with writing a lot of content which you clearly have done in your day?

Bryan:                   Well, I’m one of those rare people that actually went to school and I’m doing what I studied. I actually have a degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism with an even a bigger focus in writing. I have written almost ever since…I have always been good at that English almost ever since I can remember. It has always been a fascination of fun creative outlet for me. But what happened even more so is I kind of got into the habit of writing over the years just in terms of just the businesses that I’ve been involved in and the positions that I’ve had. And about four years ago…I think four years ago, I got this fascination again with content in writing. It started me on my journey and the reason I hit that actually is…If you or your listeners want to take a look, I give a global Ted Talk…I’m really honored to give a global Ted Talk on this exact topic, and how I rejuvenated my career again four years ago and did that using content and content really kind of propelled me back into the direction that I think now I am in and use content to learn. I interviewed fascinating people just all over the place, all over the world from everyday walk of life people to Ted Turner, and CEOs CMOs of Fortune 500 and 100 companies. I learned from them all in terms of what made them successful, what made their brains work, and how they hit roadblocks, and things that really kind of made my head spin and learn from them, and in turn, I was also at the same time creating content, which was great because now I could use that to offer it up to the next person or a bigger audience which I did. So that launched a little bit more into how I started to write more and I started to produce more content and I started seeing repercussions of my learning turning into greater success rate of helping others to learn through the content that I was creating.

Byron:                   How and when did the theme “sharing” arise to you and make it a centerpiece of the book?

Bryan:                   Sharing was something that I started on. I started on this book ‘Shareology’ three and a half years ago. It was an idea that I had before I wrote H to H, Human to Human, and I was intending on writing it and releasing it much sooner that I actually did. However, my book H to H became a surprise baby. I had not planned on it coming along and telling me that I needed to do that first, so I was pleasantly surprised. I was talking about Human to Human for the last 10 years with our clients and our concepts around what we do in business, in marketing. I stood on stage, I gave a keynote at Bloomberg West and behind me was…there is no B2B or B2C, it’s Human to Human, H to H. And within the next 48 hours it took off. It went global. It got over 80million impressions that was translated into over 15 plus languages and got over 2000 bloggers, blogging about it including Forbes and CNBC and it went on TV and all kinds of places. And so I realized that that then needed to be further defined, and so I took that and I wrote a book fairly quickly in order to help define it further because I was getting such mass interest on what human to human really meant. And so long story short, you asked me how sharing came to be. Sharing is the extension of human to human. Sharing is how we interact, what we do online but it's also the basis now of what I talked about which is being human and building human companies.

Byron:                   Why do we share and how does passion and connection and prestige and these human characteristics we have, how does that figure into our desire to share things? And how did we do that before the web by the way?

Bryan:                   Well, we did it in person. We are…I took everything that I did research on over the last couple of years and compiled it into a tool that allowed me to see the trends in the words that really blow to the top. And over those 250 interviews that I mentioned I took everything, I transcribed, hard transcribed every single interview that I did and the number one answer, the number one word that came up out of everything that I had interviewed over this topic of sharing came down to one word for the very reason that we all want to share and that is ‘connection.’ We all want to connect with one or more people. There is no greater reason or ability than sharing to connect with another human being. And if we’re going to share a story or a topic or a piece of content or anything it is going to be perceived by other people that we are interested in that topic simply because we’re sharing it. So there is a whole deeper analysis like I talked about around this and like talk your ear off on, but at the end of the day, the reason that we share is because we want to connect with other people.

Byron:                   Could you define connection in a sense that doesn’t relate necessarily to sharing something on Facebook or shaking hands with somebody? What do you really mean by connection? What happens to us from a physical perspective and a mental perspective when we share something and it’s received well? By the way, does it have to be received well? That’s another interesting question.

Bryan:                   Sure. Think about it this way, when you see something that you think is of value online and you think that it’s worth exploring, most websites will ask you because they believe that their content has value that you need to opt in. By opting in you will submit your email address and perhaps your first name, your last name, maybe a few more pieces of information depending [0:08:26 inaudible] and then you receive that information, you feel like you have received value or not. At that point, you continue to receive emails and perhaps you subscribe or you unsubscribe based on the value that you’re receiving. This process that I just walked you through is probably something that almost everybody who’s listening to this podcast is pretty familiar with and has been asked to do at some point because they feel like they either received value or they didn’t, they opted in or they did not. That same exact process is the same process we go through with information and storytelling and sharing. Our brains subconsciously or consciously will opt-in to information and want to hear more from that person. And that can apply both offline and online. The more that you hear from somebody, the more that they share those things and they take the time to share quality information maybe that has to do more with what your interests are because they have personalized it towards you. The more you’re going to want to opt in, the more stories they tell. So how you personalize your information, how you tell your stories and personalize it towards others is the best way to express a sharing methodology.

Byron:                   Here’s a question that sort of ties in a little bit with Human to Human, your book there. You make a note that products do not have emotion, humans do. Humans want to feel something and humans make mistakes. This is one of your key points of course in Human to Human. So my question is, don’t you think that brands also have a voice minimally and possibly a personality, and as such don’t you think that brands in a sense cast a feeling towards you in some strange way, and do you think that brand building is really all about building those human characteristics about the brand?

Bryan:                   Yeah, I do believe that brands can have and be shaped to look and appear and feel much more like a human brand. I’m an advocate for it actually. I believe that the more that we humanize brands, the more that we’re going to want to connect with those brands…I just don’t think that very many brands are good at doing it, but I think that that’s the goal for sure. I don’t think that a brand can think for itself. I don’t think that a brand can appear to respond to even a given tweet knowing that it is actually a human behind that tweet, answering that tweet, or sometimes looking like it’s a robotic response, because at the end of the day what we really want to connect with is the influence of another person. We want to know that and if I threw out… Actually, let me take a step back, if we looked at any given brand that you think is a powerhouse today. If I said Apple you’ll probably say Tim Cook, or if I asked you who you thought of first as the personal brand behind the brand…If I said Amazon, you’d say Jeff Bezos probably, and the list goes on. So we have these personal brands at the top that personify who the brand is or help to shape the brand.

Number two is, and this could be even more important is that I think that the individual brands are starting to become more important than the brand itself. The reason is because we connect with people, we trust people more that we do brands. If my friend told me that if I was shopping for a bike and I wanted to go get that bike would I trust the brand of a bike company to tell me that their bike was better than every other bike company or will I trust my friend who was a bike rider and he had tried or she had tried all of the different bikes over the years and highly recommended this one bike based upon their experience, and by the way, I know this person really well. I would probably trust my friend. And that personal brand experience is way stronger than anything I’m going to have with the brand itself, which means the influence by other people has a stronger advocacy platform than most brands, and therefore emotions connected to humans where they can think for themselves is much stronger than a brand being that they are not human. You can humanize a brand, you cannot have a brand that is a human.

            Byron:                   Fascinating. How do we make content more likable and shareable?

Bryan:                   Well, this is a whole different podcast. I can spend a lot of time on that because there are so many types of content. Content comes from different levels of different things and the thing about your question, the reason I’d have a challenge answering it on every level is because every platform is so different. And so I would answer one way on Snap chat, another way on Facebook, another way on Twitter, and another way on Instagram. Each one is so unique. And here the biggest thing is that most brands or most people take their one thing and they push it out to all networks, and that couldn’t be the farthest thing that you should be doing on your social media strategies. What you should be doing is taking that content and personalizing an approach for each network the way it was supposed to be in its natural environment, just like when you are seeing somebody body’s languages. If you see somebody respond in a certain way, you’re not going to respond back based upon what or how they are reacting. This is the same thing as the social body language online that’s helping to dictate your response and your conversation on each and every different network. The goal is and I can give you a sense of what you should do is to outline your social body language on each network and figure out what it is that you want to derive from that and how you’re going to approach it as a human brand.

            Byron:                   Can you reverse engineer sharing success?

Bryan:                   I think so. Well, like I said everybody has their own footprint. Everyone has their own ability to share in different ways. At the end of the day, and I know this sounds so cliché, but the most authentic people are the ones that are doing well. So if you’re telling your story and you’re very passionate about what you’re telling, people are going to listen because they want to hear a real human authentic story but that just goes without saying. Then you think of the next level and you say okay, how people are going to perceive me, what is the general formula…And again, I have this in the book, it goes into a lot of greater detail but at the end of the day what you share is…I should say the content that you share is equal to the amount of how you are perceived by other people or other companies. What I mean by that is…I’ll make that even simpler than that, is that you are what you share. As you share things people will identify that piece of content or that share or that story or that thing in line with your own brand. So if you were to share something from the economist for five days…for the next five days all you did was shared something for the economist, people are going to start thinking that you’re interested in the economist, you’re starting to work in that area, that’s part of who you are as a person, or that they can count on you as an influencer in that area because you started to shift into that direction. What that means is that what you share is how people start to identify you as. The good news is that you can change your perception simply by sharing something different. The great bad news is that it has to be authentic. You can’t just change tunes and say that this is what I’m going to share and I’m going to change people’s perception. They will see right through it. So as long as you match those two things together, you can definitely share something that has a winning formula for you.

Byron:                   How important is it to be authentic and to frankly make mistakes? And do you find that you develop a deeper relationship with your audience when you actually admit mistakes or make mistakes or do something stupid? Does that actually help in some strange ways, the opportunity to connect better with people?

Bryan:                   Oh My God! Mistakes are great. I wish most people made more mistakes and knew what to do with it. The travel industry, take for example the hotel industry, the airplane industry; they have all these moments of truth, these kinds that we’ve all had. We’ve all had a missed plane or seat change or a hotel that didn’t book us in right or have the room ready on time, or whatever. These mistakes that happen all the time that we’re supposed to be a certain way and it didn’t turn out how we thought it would. These moments are the best moments in the world because that’s when you can take somebody from a person who is just a customer to an Uber fan, raving fans. And you can take them there simply through a mistake. It doesn’t happen when there is no mistake. When you’re just sitting down and you’re having an experience that is one thing. But when there is a mistake and it’s corrected in the most outstanding way, then you want to go and shout it from the rooftop more times than not. So mistakes are great. Actually I think I gave a talk at INBOUND last year called ‘How To Embrace Your Inner Focker’ and it’s based on Gaylord Focker the character in Meet the Parents. Gaylord Focker, if you remember in that movie…he is one of my favorite characters in the world because he makes mistakes all the time almost throughout the entire movie. And I totally identify with that character because we all love him. We all want to see him succeed. Guess what he did apply for the M-Cat and he did get into medical school, he just didn’t want to go because the authentic Gaylord Focker actually wanted to be a nurse. That’s who he wanted to be. So we identified with this human character who made mistakes; really smart and intelligent guy, humorous and just the most human person ever. Now I identify with him personally for a lot of other different reasons that we also don’t have time to get into. I think most of those things in the movie actually I’ve probably done in my own life, but at the same time I think that that’s who we all strive to be connected with. We want to be with real people, creating different scenarios and owning up to them and saying here’s how we are going to take charge and make up for that in a customer service situation.

Byron:                   Here’s an interesting question for you. How much time do you spend online socially, and how do you tackle the social connection elements that are critical for your own success and advancement?

Bryan:                   Well, being online is part of my job, so it’s a tough one for me to answer to the norm, like how much time should you really be online versus somebody who does this all the time. So I’d say that I probably…My definition of being online, my phone is always online and my computer system…So I think what you’re saying is that how much time am I spending maybe doing and connecting on social media and doing content? I would say that that’s probably maybe 15 to 20 hours a week on average. Some weeks are higher and some weeks are maybe a little bit lower, but probably about that. I’m using social media all the time because I have four businesses that I run, and each of them has an online component to it. I have one that’s an Elearning Company, I have one that’s writing content media company, another one is a book publishing company and I have a social content marketing agency; so each one of them is really dedicated to social and I’m spending time throughout all of them. If you’re…That’s who I am…If you’re a content or a community manager, your whole life is dedicated to being online and I’d say they should be online maybe 30, 40 hours a week. The entrepreneur, small business owner that are just trying to get online to get their business promoted and build their personal brand, maybe they’ll spend a little more time upfront but I would also suggest getting a community manager that can help you run your business so that you’re spending 10 hours a week, and you’ve got somebody else who’s doing the 20, 30, maybe 40 hours on top of that to help your business. So it really ranges.

Byron:                   We have of course our whole marketplaces built around customers that need content created and our writers help create that content. Do you have any advice for writers, getting under the skin of these customers that they’re creating content for? What are the secrets to do that? How critical is that, when you’re ghost writing for somebody which is really what many of our writers are doing. Thoughts on that?

Bryan:                   Well, so often the writer doesn’t meet the person they’re writing for, and the tone isn’t on, because it’s one thing to speak facts and things that fall in line with whatever outline you’re given, but man, when you get the voice, the true voice of that person and you can connect the voice to the audience and it really sounds right...Because remember when I talked about social body language…We can again talk about this at a greater level…Digital body language…that person is also communicating across other platforms on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, wherever else. The voice is connected all over the place. If there is a disconnect of the voice in content versus wherever else they’re talking, there’s going to be an incongruency or an inconsistency across what it is they’re talking about. So I really believe that it’s good for the writer to get to know that person’s voice and make sure that the voice is really connected through and comes out of the energy of the piece. The rest of it is really hard work. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t put the effort in there as well but I’d say that that would be a key element.

Byron:                   We have the technology inside of our platform to actually have a customer record a message that’s attached to an order and/or set up a conference bridge using our technology where we record both of those, so we can keep that attached to the order for accountability reasons in case the order goes amiss. Don’t you think those are good ideas? It’s amazing Bryan, not many people are using that technology but it’s great to hear you talk about that. Could you just put one more line in your thoughts on even listening to the voice without actually talking with a customer? Many freelance writers are so busy they can’t stop what they’re during the course of the day. They just seem to crank content out. Don’t you think listening to the voice alone would be interesting?

Bryan:                   Yeah absolutely, I really agree. I think hearing from that person is probably key, and that sounds good. You guys are doing a great job if that’s the case. And carrying the voice and understanding the person is exactly what I’m talking about. 

Byron:                   Do you have any final words of wisdom for a writing career in general, and there are so many freelance writers that listen into this. Your thoughts on ramping up your career, advancing your career, how important it is to get endorsements and recommendations socially online from your customers, tell us about building a writing career from the ground up, and what you look for, for example in freelance writers.

Bryan:                   There is a couple of different elements that goes into writing content online for anywhere. And the reason I say this is because I’m actually fascinated, I’m working right now on research around how people are becoming a human firewall for information. We’re getting so grounded, so [0:25:37 inaudible] off from content because there's so much of it. With all the amount of content that’s coming at us, what do we trust? Where do we trust? And what information is actually factual and how are we going to like I said before mentally or even physically opt-in? What’s going to get us to opt into this information? It goes without saying, quality information is going to be king. But also going beyond the scope, going beyond the ask, maybe even asking more questions…I have had such success with actually asking the audience what they want, and then giving that to them versus just giving them what I think they want. So doing quizzes and doing information gathering of some kind, so that you can actually build content based upon on what they’re going to resonate with. These are the things that I think play into our proper content marketing plan that’s going to break through.

The other thing is integrating other ideas and other voices. If you’re the only voice that’s heard around this, it’s going be, I think an echo chamber. I think integrating what others have said, building in including others. My friend Cory Anderson talks about this all the time in terms of being mutual and taking what others have talked about on this topic and actually quoting them through so that then you’re connecting them back into the piece, maybe perhaps getting it shared out a little bit more through their network is a good way to go. But at the end of the day it’s really breaking through that wall. We’re all building, we’re going to continue to build it as we have more and more information coming at us.

Byron:                   Bryan, we really want to thank you for being on with us today. I can probably go on, as you can gather, with a hundred more questions, but we’ll give you a break and really show appreciation for how much we’ve enjoyed you being with us today.

            Bryan:                   Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. It has been a lot of fun.

Byron:                   Sounds great. Until next week everybody. I hope your life is a little smarter, better, faster, and wiser thanks to Bryan. Thanks for tuning in. We will see you next week.