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The Human Connection in a Digital World

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Social media and emerging mobile technologies have forever changed the landscape of human interaction. No longer will people wait hours, let alone days, for a response from clients or customers. We now live in a world in which news is broken in under 140 characters and people are more driven by bouncing icons on their mobile phones than what can be experienced outside of their 3.5" screen. So what does that mean?

This past week I attended Social Media Week, held at the Highline in New York City. A confluence of mobile and web experts, this conference brought insight into the current, and future, trends in the world of marketing and social media. The key takeaway I had from almost every session was the importance of brands and marketers to deliver the human experience. It seemed counterintuitive to the concept of social media and mobile technologies, but in reality it makes perfect sense.

As technology improves it becomes more and more human. Apple's Siri attempts to mimic humanity through snarky conversation and humor, and Google attempts to understand our behaviors to deliver more relevant information and content to better connect with users through their various services. As amazing as this seems, this is just the beginning of what we can expect. Mobile technology has seen a meteoric rise in adoption since the debut of the first iPhone in 2007. Seven years have given us significant advancements in mobile technology, but relative to the span of recorded human history, seven years are still a short time. We're barely skimming the surface of what we can expect from technology.

The recent film Her romanticized this idea of human-technology interaction through the developing relationship between the protagonist and the sentient software, culminating in what is to be the first portrayal of computer-human copulation. As shocking as that seems, it is absolutely likely that we're moving in this direction. But we're not there yet. Do I believe that this is possible? Sure, why not? Few people would have guessed how dependent we are on mobile technology even 10 years ago. Even fewer would have guessed the rate at which we consume content on a mobile device, whether YouTube videos or in-depth blog posts on the Huffington Post.

We live in a world in which more people are connected than ever before. In the next six years, we're likely to see most of humanity connected to one another in some form of a mobile device. As connected as we are now, there is still a fundamental disconnect between people and the companies that attempt to reach them through these technologies. We may one day reach a point where true conversations can happen between man and machine, but for now it is still up to the people, the marketers and brand ambassadors of the world, to drive this human connection.

Whether you're a marketer, blogger or social media maven, think about the people that consume the content that you develop. Think not in terms of SEO and call-to-actions, but more so on the deeper relationship between you and your audience. We can attempt to click-bait with catchy headlines and subject lines, but at the end of the day, no one would care for content that doesn't resonate with the very core of their being, their humanity. The most interesting challenge that marketers now face is not how to best tackle specific social media platforms or how best to leverage the technologies we have, but how best to be as human as possible on the web.

As funny as it is, it is easy to forget how to be a human. We're so driven by data that we often overlook the human aspect of marketing and business. It's crucial that we begin this process of delivering of real, human experiences on the web. Otherwise, we may not face a world in which machines replicate humanity, but where humanity replicates machines. Now that is a scary thought.

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