02/15/2013 02:55 pm ET Updated Apr 17, 2013

How Social Media Is Humanizing Brands

It's simple. Talk to me like I'm a human being. I'm more than an inbox, Twitter handle, or opportunity for a Facebook "Like." I'm your audience. And if we connect, there can be a meaningful exchange that's beneficial for both of us.

In my experience as a user, customer and digital strategist, open conversations mixed with memorable connections are the fastest way any brand can create a meaningful relationship. Sometimes this happens online. Sometimes it happens offline. But no matter what, whether we're talking about good service or better products, in the end it all comes down to how we relate.

I think brands forget this, but honestly who could blame them. In the foggy mix of economic pressure, bosses demanding insatiable amounts of measurable results and the rapid pace of high-stakes decision-making, it's easy to lose perspective and grab for more traditional ways of thinking. We see it all the time. More eyes lead to more awareness which ultimately lead to more success. Well, that's not true. The presumed path to success is paved with brands that have risen and fallen in the pursuit of "more eyes."

What is true, is that each relationship must be earned. Right now, more than ever, brands have the opportunity to blend digital and physical strategies to create authentic relationships with their audience. They can earn it. And they can do it in ways that remind us that we're all human and not just deliverable metrics. To me, this is the path to long-lasting success.

While I'm fascinated with experiences that live at the intersection of digital and physical, I do think it's possible (and fun) to create successful experiences that live independently. But, the brands who are consistently winning and making powerful connections with their audience are the ones that execute fully integrated campaigns. No longer should digital strategy sit in a silo. Invite these strategies into the brand's larger goals and vision. Not only are they at the forefront of fostering authentic relationships with existing consumers, but they may often be your best kept secret for forging new relationships and growing your consumer base.

As I look at social media today and its integration with physical events and products, it proves to be an exciting time for us all. The industry is packed with new ideas, energy and enthusiasm. For example, the Internet of Things is a booming field sure to disrupt many markets and offer new opportunities for entrepreneurs all over the world. All of these factors are driving us toward better connections and more authentic conversations. Now that we're here, let's take advantage of these opportunities and build more meaningful relationships that offer deeper engagement among brands and their audiences. Let's build something that goes beyond the singular focus of quantitative metrics and offers something new! Who knows, we may find the results to be humanizing.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Social Media Week in conjunction with the latter's Ideas Connected, a three-day event taking place at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City on Feb 19-21. Presented in partnership with MKG and Crowdcentric, Ideas Connected is designed as an inspirational, educational and explorational deep dive into the architects, inventors, and collaborators who are shaping our lives in extraordinary ways, accompanied. Learn more here.