I have a friend who sells insurance. The problem is I never know when he is my friend or when he is an insurance salesman – he says he wants to be both, but I know deep down that what he really wants is a sale.
We were friends in high school and didn’t reconnect until he started his business. He reached out under the pretext of renewed friendship, but that was a ruse. He wanted a client, not a friend. I bought the insurance but I rarely talk to him anymore, because when I do it always comes back to business.
You are either my friend or you want to sell me something. Either is fine as long as the motive is genuine.
Brands should be social, but I don’t want brands to be my Facebook “friends.” I want to talk to them when I have a question and give me information when I’m in the mood to buy. We’re not buddies, we’re not going to drinks, I’m not inviting them to my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.
This doesn’t mean we can’t share some laughs and have a little fun (especially if I can win something.) Brands can and should express their personalities, but they should be sincere and not engage in some fake cocktail small talk meant to sucker you into buying a timeshare in Palm Springs.
Yes, markets are conversations, but they are conversations related to marketing. This is good and necessary – but friendship? Not even close.