Maybe Facebook got it right.

Social media ‘likes,’ it turns out, are a pretty good predictor of who gets hired, who gets help at work, who’s trusted.  According to University of Massachusetts’ researchers, no matter how strong the business case, if auditors presented well-organized arguments, managers complied.  On networks like LinkedIn, recruiters seek individuals who seem to have a high level of trust – and authenticity.

What does this have to do with us communicators and designers and marketers?  Likeability boils down to a few personal attributes that, not surprisingly, are common to compelling communications:  Empathy, warmth, eye contact, and confidence.   Let’s see how they’re translated:

  • Empathy.  Think listening.  Does your brand or your company have an ear to the ground – and actively project what others are asking and needing?
  • Warmth.  It’s all about fake – and its opposite, credibility.  Genuine care and concern are easy to spot; the opposite, just as simple to pinpoint.  Take a good look at how you’re saying and doing; it might be a true indicator of external perception.
  • Eye contact.  Personal appeals work, if they’re sincere.  So even if your medium is print, it’s not hard to infuse the pictures with a sense of individuality and ‘I’m talking straight to you.’
  • Confidence.  Selling in an idea or initiative relies on the power of your belief, the faith you show in presentations and conversations and other media.  Infuse it with curiosity and a true concern about your audience – and bingo!  A sale.

Experts say likability can be taught, unlike charisma.  How do you (and your communications) measure up?


There’s a corporate America practice that has us flummoxed. 

It usually doesn’t work 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of the people. 

It requires lots of preparation and cajoling. 

And it truly needs a major support system, bolstered in part by human resources, policies and procedures, and heavy-duty communications.

The culprit:  Cascading information from managers and supervisors to staff and teams.  Somehow, many times, information gets stuck in the middle.

Our solution?  Straight from a Forrester Research survey, revealing (no surprise) that 66 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they care about, while only 18 percent trust brand information found on Facebook, Instagram, and the like. 

Instead of labeling it in the same league as the somewhat tarnished multi-level marketing, think of it as the friends and family kind of swap, using employees to ‘sell’ to other employees (in this case, to exchange data and info).  Online and social media make it incredibly easy to sell to those you know; internally, most companies host communities and affinity groups on their intranets, encouraging conversations and collaboration.  And if we plot out a well-defined influencer network and map, so much the better.

[Yes, we know the downsides:  That kind of freedom makes brand and corporate messages so much harder to control.  And timing would be, to an extent, loosey-goosey.]

Yet the power and meaningfulness of direct connections overcomes, to us, any objections.  Your take, dear readers?