Won’t You Be My Neighbor…

I may be dating myself with the title reference, but I grew up on the classics – Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, pretty much anything channel 11 “WTTW Chicago” had to offer. So much so that I think the “WTTW Chicago” litany has become reflexive when I say channel 11 …

WTTW Chicago :-/

I’m sure those of you who remember our cardigan and sweater vest donning show host will remember his trademark line of, “won’t you be my neighbor.” I don’t think I ever thought much of the line’s meaning and when I did I assumed he just wanted me to watch his show, or move into the flat next to his. But this morning as I’m rereading my copy of groundswell I began to reconsider the meaning of “Please, Won’t you be my neighbor.”

In the Groundswell, Li and Bernoff Discuss the AFOL community online and how Lego has encouraged and nurtured the community’s presence. This Makes sense doesn’t it find the people who like what you do and develop a relationship with them. But what about those people who are over in left field; They like writing, and rock climbing, and video games and they aren’t toting what your company is all about?

Here’s where the tag line comes in. You’re already in the community, your company has a web presence, articles about you are being posted at dig, you come up on the Google News feeds (hopefully), and sometimes people you don’t know are talking about you (for better or worse). Your house is just down the street, and it may be time to start being a neighbor, a good neighbor; the kind that waves to others while walking the dog – the one that shows interest in the left fielders. But how do we do this?

Well is there someone in your organization who handles you social presence? Are there people in your organization who like video games, and rock climbing, and writing who you are willing to let get involved in those conversations while still representing you company? You don’t need to offer these left fielders anything, you don’t need to finance their next rock climbing trip, or sponsor them, you don’t need them to talk about you either. Being a good neighbor means showing interest in people other than yourself. Be involved. Please, won’t you be their neighbor.

Take It Seriously… if you won’t, we wont.

I recently came upon the facebook presence of a local organization. I realize that dust doesn’t really collect on a web page, but in some ways it does. This page lacked any significant posts over the course of the past few months, leaving old posts (dated and time stamped) lying around with little activity (dust). in addition to this some of the hyperlinks linked to places that, it could be guessed, were supposed to go somewhere relevant, but someone hadn’t bothered to check. It was as if something useless was left lying around (clutter).

The whole page gave me a sense that someone, whoever was running it, wasn’t really doing their job. Items of little relevance were scattered about, and the dust was settling.

This brings up a good point, and I know I have at times been guilty of this. The presence of an entity, or brand online, is like being a crowded room. Everybody is moving about, interacting. When your page is left to settle in the dust, it’s like you haven’t changed clothes or showered in weeks. You have nothing new to say, and there is probably a stale smell around you.

Sit there long enough and not only will a lot of people stop paying attention to you, but you may attract the wrong crowd; Metaphoric kids with markets are likely to stop by and draw on you, and you won’t be able to stop them, because you’re not paying attention; you haven’t paid attention in months. Even your friends will ignore the random comments and jokes that prankster are free to write on you, because your friends have stopped checking up on you.

Ok, so I get a little metaphor happy. What I am saying though, is that a facebook of twitter page, a blog, or a website – or even a store front is part of what makes up your identity. When you stop paying attention and keeping things in order, your audience stops listening; and here is what you have to remember… We’re not going to come to you and say, “hey, shape up,” if we do, you’re very lucky, because it’s rare that your directly told even when your doing it right.

Non of that should discourage you. As a person, commercial entity, or public figure, whatever you are, you need to work your identity because it’s important to you. When you don’t care… why should we.