Tag Archive for: twitter

Humology is the Intersection of Humanity and Technology

I had the privilege of speaking at the Assurex Global North American P&C and Employee Benefits Sales Conference a few weeks ago. It was a top-notch event at a beautiful location that brought together more than 100 highly successful insurance agency owners and producers. My topic was the application of persuasion in sales. I love the opportunity to share at events like that! A side benefit is getting the chance to hear other interesting speakers.

One speaker caught my attention, Andy Paden, the Director of Practice Development at INSURICA. During his talk, Andy used a term I’d never heard of before, “humology.” The term was coined by INSURICA’s consultant, Scott Kosloski, founder of Future Point of View. Humology is used to describe the intersection of humanity (relationships) and technology. He stressed the need for people to understand how relationships and technology have to be considered together in business.

I think it’s especially important to think through this topic because too many people bemoan the fact that technology is hurting our relationships. I don’t believe that’s the case because “good” relationships are primarily a matter of perspective.

I’m sure as we moved from an agricultural society to the industrial age many people thought relationships suffered because families no longer worked together. Suddenly family members were gone 12-16 hours a day in factories which meant significantly less time together.

When the phone was invented I bet lots of people lamented that face to face conversations were less frequent. Rather than walking or driving several miles to see a neighbor or relative to sit a talk people just picked up the phone.

In more recent times I’ve heard countless people say texting hurts relationships because no one picks up the phone to talk anymore. They also pooh pooh social media sites because “those aren’t real relationships.”

Over time it’s inevitable that society and technology will change how people interact. But can we really say one time period is better than another? I think our challenge is to figure out how we can use technology to have the best relationships possible.

I’ll share two personal examples. The first is Facebook. I got on Facebook more than eight years ago because a friend said my daughter Abigail would probably want to get on Facebook when she turned 13 years old. I enjoyed Facebook more than I would have imagined and I began to realize Abigail was probably learning more about me than I was about her! She saw how I interacted with friends, my sense of humor and much more. She had a view of me that I never had of my parents and that helped our relationship.

I also saw my relationship with Abigail grow because of texting. We have more frequent contact with text because there’s no chance we would have called as often as we texted. Because I was willing to communicate with her in the manner she preferred we communicated more and our relationship grew.

If you want good relationships with friends, family or customers make sure you engage them on social media. That means taking time to respond if they comment on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or blog posts. That’s where communication happens and relationships form and grow. Taking this approach has helped me meet people all around the world.

The last thing I’ll mention is the application of the principles of influence. People often ask if those principles are as applicable today given all the change in society and technology. Absolutely! Society is rapidly changing and technology is changing even faster but the human brain has not evolved nearly as quickly. That means the same principles that guided our decision-making thousands of years ago still guide us today. How we engage those principles differs only because we have more ways to communicate today and we can communicate with more people faster than ever.

I encourage you to embrace the changes that are happening. As you do, ask yourself how you can use the change to build more relationships and strengthen those you already have. I’m sure as you do that employing the principles of influence will come in quite handy.

Once Upon A Time – A Good Twitter Lesson

Once upon a time – most good stories with a moral start this way – I learned a good lesson on Twitter. I was trying to get the word out about a blog series I’d written. Beyond just sending tweets about my articles, I got in touch with a few dozen people to see if they would help me spread the word.

When using Twitter you can send a direct message (DM) to people who follow you. To ask for help I sent direct messages to people I’d had some contact with. In the past many of these folks had retweeted (RT) my material. 

At the time this occurred I had about 1200 followers who could see whatever I shared. Imagine if 24 followers each had about that many people following them. If they retweeted my message then all of a sudden instead of just 1200 seeing a tweet potentially 30,000 have a chance to see that same message! 

Since social media was so new at the time, there were many unwritten rules and that can lead to trouble. When I directly asked people if they’d help me by retweeting my posts, it bothered one follower so much that he posted the message below to his followers in the public space:

@BrianAhearn Please don’t DM me articles and then ask me to RT them. #tacky #unfollow

As you might imagine, #tacky was telling people what I did was tacky and the #unfollow was telling anyone who followed me that they should stop following. Ouch!

He took his own advice and stopped following me so I couldn’t send him a direct message to try and work it out. My choices were; let it go or try to work it out in the public space.

I chose the second option, but before I did I called a friend whose opinions on social media I respect. Not only did Paul Hebert give me good advice, it allowed me to get my emotions in check. I put the following message in the public arena:

@Name I was looking for help from folks who’d RT posts in the past. Wasn’t trying to be tacky. You could have contacted to discuss? (Meaning, why didn’t you send me a direct message rather than air it in public?)

Shortly I saw the follow on Twitter’s public space:

@BrianAhearn I am of the school of thought that folks will RT what they think is interesting. Put the info out there & we’ll find/spread it.

I thought, fair enough but I didn’t think I violated a rule by simply asking for help so I responded one more time:

@Name Appreciate the response. Please accept apology. I am learning as I go like many others, didn’t mean to offend. All good?

Now I was taking my own medicine. When you want to influence someone, a good way to do so is by engaging the principle of authority. One aspect of authority is admitting weakness or a mistake to gain trust. Apologizing also engages reciprocity because when you apologize you’re conceding a little and often times people will meet you part way. I was hoping my apology would open a door and it did because here’s what I saw next:

@BrianAhearn Aren’t we all still learning?! Your explanation helped me to understand your methods. Thanks for following up.

Then not too long after that tweet I noticed he was once again following me and he posted this message online:

Kudos to @BrianAhearn for communicating with me this morning when I didn’t understand or appreciate his Twitter method.

In my eyes that last message in the public space was a classy move. Now that he was a follower again I sent him a direct message and invited him to have a beer or coffee on me next time he was in Columbus. It so happened he had plans to be in town the following afternoon so we got together.

We talked about the exchange and he said he’d never previously done anything like that – post a public message on a disagreement – so we both learned a good lesson. Personally, I felt good about not giving in to my initial emotional reaction – anger – because I found a way to make things right. Even better, I made a friend who turned out to be a really nice guy and we had much in common. In the end it was all good. 

How can you Influence PEOPLE?

There are several morals to this story. First, when you are highly emotional, don’t do anything rash because it usually doesn’t turn out well. Next, turn to a trusted friend to help you sort out the situation and your thinking. Third, if you are able to resolve the issues, take one more step and try to build a friendship. You can see it turned out well for me, so I’ll close the way most good stories usually do – And all’s well that ends well. The End

Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CPT, CMCT

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An authorTEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories. His next book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, will be available by year-end.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 400,000 people around the world.


Are You a Twitter Snob?

I’m still a total novice, a geek you might say, when it comes to Twitter. I signed up at the advice of a friend and have mostly tried to use it as a tool to promote this blog. Facebook continues to be the place where I get more personal.

Because I just didn’t feel I was getting the hang of Twitter I bought Twitter Power by Joel Comm. For my wife and daughter, the fact that I would buy and read a book like that confirms them that I am indeed a geek, a twit, a tweet.

As I type this I’m half way through the book and have learned several good pointers. But, this post isn’t about the book; rather it’s about what I’m observing about Twitter from a social influence standpoint.

First I must confess, I’ve become a Twitter snob. Are you? You might discover you’re one too and didn’t know it. Why do I say I’m I a snob? Well, for the simple reason that I don’t “follow” everyone who follows me. Kind of rude isn’t it? In my defense there’s a psychological force at work on me. It’s called consensus, also known as social proof.

Consensus is the psychological principle whereby people look to others for clues on how to act. That gets heightened when we are not sure what to do. So I’m new to Twitter, fumbling around not knowing what to do and I look to see what others are doing. I’ve received notification that people or organizations are following me so I pop over to their Twitter home page to see what’s up. Here’s where consensus comes into play which leads me to a question for you. If you saw “Following 1,567” and “Followers 138” would you be like me and wonder, “Why are so few people following this person?”

It’s not that 138 is a small number; after all, we all have to start somewhere. The problem is that 138 is a small number compared to 1,567. We naturally compare and contrast to gauge things. It’s no different than looking inside a small restaurant, seeing a large crowd, people waiting and all the tables filled. I don’t know about you but when I see that I naturally assume it must be a good place. By contrast, when you pop your head into a large place and see more empty tables than full ones it’s easy to conclude something must be wrong with the food, service or something else. In reality there may be more people in the big restaurant but you don’t really notice that. In both cases we’re influenced by groups, or lack of, and that is heightened when comparing it to the number of tables.

At first I felt bad not following someone who followed me. My feeling bad goes to another principle of influence, reciprocity, which tells us we should respond in kind when someone does something for us. Someone smiles at us and we smile back or they do something for us and we feel obligated to return the favor. So naturally, when someone follows us on Twitter we feel somewhat obligated to follow them back.

So what’s a person to do if they find themselves in a follower deficit? Again, I’m no Twitter expert but here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Friends and Family – Use the AT&T strategy and try connecting with people you know so they’ll follow you and you can build up that number.
  • Sympathy – Start sending messages to some of those you follow to tell them you made a mistake and ask them to start following you.
  • Slow Down Cowboy – As people do start following you, don’t be so quick to follow back for a time so you can even out your “following” and “follow” numbers.
  • Last Resort – If all else fails, set up a new Twitter account and be more careful as you build up your followers. This might seem like a hassle but it will be worse to go months, maybe years and never see many followers.

Again, I don’t claim to be an authority on Twitter, that’s why I needed a book! However, I know enough about social influence to realize when people are shooting themselves in the foot. By the way, feel free to follow me on Twitter or become my friend on Facebook. Links to both are on the side of the Web site.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”