For a while now, I’ve been stuck with an idea:
People don’t want to follow organizations. People want to follow people.
I don’t expect that statement to be surprising, but it’s not something we really think about.
Think about It
What is more inspiring: the story of Apple or the story of Steve Jobs?
Who would you trust giving you business advice: the Dallas Mavericks or Mark Cuban?
When was the last time you quoted an organization?
When talking about a film, do you mention the actors and directors or the studios?
For a long time, I thought I needed to hide behind a name in order for my ideas to get big. I’ve built websites and social media accounts for an organization that I thought would gain traction. I was wrong.
One of the best examples I can give comes from my work. I’ve been helping to manage @WillowCreekCC on Twitter for the last three years (the account has been around for five years), and we post regularly with content that should be relevant to the 13,300 followers.
Two years ago, the senior pastor, Bill Hybels, started tweeting from @BillHybels. As of writing this, he’s sent 329 tweets and has more than 160,000 followers.
This I Believe
I believe that people want to trust a face, not a logo. I believe that people can forgive a person, not a brand. I believe that even in a world where the reach of a business is massive, one person’s voice can speak so much louder.
Some Loose Thoughts
- People want to follow a vision and a purpose even more than they want to follow other people. Vision and purpose don’t make good Twitter accounts though, so it’s up to an individual or an organization to express the vision and purpose.
- I guess that maybe I could’ve said, “People prefer to follow people.” I didn’t go that way because I was trying to prove that the power of an individual is great than that of an organization.
- If this all means that individual people are more powerful than organizations, then organizations are in constant danger. If the wrong person has a bad customer service experience, the organization can be crippled.
- No matter what the Supreme Court decides, organizations are not people.
Nice piece, Ian. Some really good points in here. I could spend days just thinking about one or two of them! Keep up the good work – it’s a pleasure to read.