In Healing Business, I’ll share why I think business needs healing and how CSRA is doing it with experiential social media. Business is wounded from a human point of view because it’s become very impersonal; large organizations don’t mean to, but they treat employees and customers as numbers because they don’t know or trust them. Experiential is a practical way to change that.
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Imagine that you invent the microscope. You can see things that other people can’t, and it’s not easy to explain what you see. I feel like that sometimes. Ethnographic research of social media is a new view into people. It shows that, with very few exceptions, people as a group are good, trustworthy, and motivated to help each other. Contrast this with the news media, which emphasizes outliers. I analyze large amounts of data that’s rich with social context.
Few people conduct formal research online, but we all experience being helped. I’ll bet you’ve been helped by other people, and that strangers online treated you better than the company whose product you’re using. Isn’t that incredible? We all take that for granted now, and I think that’s sad. We can change that.
I’ve advised many large organizations, and I empathize with them. They’re so big, they treat people like numbers. Since they don’t know you as a person, they can’t trust you. They don’t mean to treat you badly, but they haven’t discovered how they can change.
From a human point of view, business is wounded because it’s become very impersonal. It’s huge, and so-called best practices call for getting bigger and more efficient. The problem is, this doesn’t work for humans.
But something wonderful is happening. By accident, I think that we’ve all started “repersonalizing” business. We listen to and help each other online—and we’re personal with each other. I can only speak for me, but I like being treated personally. It feels good to be listened to and helped. Several studies have shown that simply talking to a doctor reduced patients’ pain. By 25% and 55%!
I am healing business by showing leaders that they can be big, efficient AND personal. Experiential can work this magic. Here’s how: Since we humans are intensely social, when we see someone we can identify with being treated a certain way, we often experience that situation vicariously. And specific situations help us to identify with others.
For example, let’s say you bought a new tent and took your family camping. When you got to the campsite, the tent had no poles even though the unopened box promised a complete tent. So you tweeted your situation. The manufacturer comes on and helps you in a surprising way. Dozens of other people who have been in family camping fiascos will feel that the company helped them, too. This is how firms’ acts of help get greatly magnified. This is the core motor of experiential social media.
Helping people in very specific situations is terrifically healing. It increases trust and lessens friction with customers. And employees get to help people, so they start loving their work. When firms allow employees to help customers without gotchas and fine print, employees feel fantastic because their jobs have more meaning.
All people want meaning in their lives. When their employers help them to create and share meaning and mission, employees are incredibly grateful. Turnover drops like a stone. Customers buy over and over and tell everyone. This is what experiential social media is all about.
So business needs healing. Healing business is my personal mission, to help large organizations discover how to treat people much, much better. How to be human. And, guess what? Being human makes more money.