"I was dumbstruck. There, in a few pages, I read a startlingly concise summary of everything I’d seen in twenty-one years as a reporter, editor, bureau chief, and columnist for my newspaper. The idea that business, at bottom, is fundamentally human. That natural, human conversation is the true language of commerce. That corporations work best when the people on the inside have the fullest contact possible with the people on the outside." | The Cluetrain Manifesto

Like most of us, I have friends who simply don’t understand social media. When the topic comes up, their default response is typically something along the lines of: “I love you, Amy, but I don’t need to know if you’re standing in line at Starbucks. And frankly, I don’t care what you had for breakfast.”

A recent study conducted at Elizabethtown College, however, suggests that may not be entirely true.

In order to examine the role of self-disclosure in perceived credibility, 120 students between the ages of 18 and 23 were split into three groups. Each group followed the tweeting of a supposed professor. One group saw only scholarly tweets, one group saw only social tweets and the last group saw a mix of the two. Each "professor" included the same number of tweets and hyperlinks. Students were asked to rate the credibility of the professor they followed based on the tweets they observed.

The highest ratings were given by students who saw only personal tweets. Mixing in scholarly tweets had no effect on the score.

So what does that mean for marketers? Is it time to start urging our clients to abandon all industry talk in order to start spilling the beans about the aftermath of one too many tequila shots last weekend? Not so much. But it is time to start encouraging them to be real.

Scary? Maybe. Necessary? Definitely.

Welcome to a brave new world. The days of talking at people are over. It’s time to start talking with people. In order to do that, we have to take down our walls, step out from behind the desk and podium and (in the wise words of an MTV series) “start getting real.”

It’s time to show our humanness.

Originally posted on the Brains on Fire Blog