social networking technology

Trust Agents 6a: Human Artist

Who remembers the movie Jerry Maguire? Jerry, a Sports Agent, has an encounter with his conscience which results in a life altering mission statement. He arrives at the conclusion that more personal attention is required – that it is more about the people they represent than the money that that can get from them. On the web it may be a bit more difficult to maintain a personal touch because you can’t always look each other in the eye and watch for non verbal cues. Yet, more than ever before, the Web is far more ‘humanized’ – we are able to express ourselves better and engage better and it is only going to improve.

Chris and Julian say that ‘Etiquette and understanding how to navigate this human faced Web are your best bets at finding, retaining and growing communities of customers’. This is so true; we are human beings – made by God to connect and have relationship – who need to engage. If we are to be Trust Agents then we need to be so much more human than regular Web residents. They call this being the ‘Human Artist – someone who understands how to communicate with people in a real and thoughtful way. However, with pretty much every ‘human’ like clue absent from the process of engagement how can we execute this role [skill] of the Human Artist and, just like Jerry Maguire, pay more personal attention to others on the Web?

The one thing that has been evident to me while I have spent time in the Web is that my presence paints a picture of me. With time, patience and effort I know that people will learn to trust me and be easier to engage with, because they will be comfortable with who I am. (I am not a potential robot, a self-serving stats hoarder or a wanna be flash in the pan!) It is during this time of observing and learning that people will hopefully notice and interact with me. The authors suggest the following actions that will help:

  • Listen: Listen and learn is the common catch phrase I believe. By observing what others do, how they do it, what is appropriate and acceptable, you will be better positioned to engage effectively.
  • Ask: After listening, asking is probably the best way to get started because it shows that you are willing to learn.
  • Reciprocate: Everything happens for a reason, everything is personal (despite what they say), not reciprocating is the best way to destroy further interaction – although it’s best to think about it first!
  • Comment and comment back: Anyone who has a blog wants meaningful comment; it’s most likely the best indicator for a blog’s success and watching the conversation taken further after the post is more satisfying that the post itself.

Unfortunately there’s no substitute for real face to face communication. With only 7% of communication being words (38 %  vocal tones and 55% body movement) it is hard to have a true conversation and hence a genuine relationship over the Web.

What are some of the ways that you maintain and build up your human face on the Web?

[images by jimmyroq, foonus]

Phillip Gibb is a fan of my God, my Wife, my Son, Video, Editing and Apple. Working towards making a great film. He blogs at

About the author


Digital Video editing and content enthusiast making connections to be salt and light on the Interwebs.


  • Commenting on blogs and mentions/RTs on twitter are huge. Also to answer your question literally (ways that you maintain and build up your human face on the Web), having a profile pic (or gravitar for sites that use them) wherever you post is important too.

    FWIW, I don’t think I got much new insight out of this section of the book. It seems like common sense that we should use etiquette and treat people the way we would want to be treated online, but if Chris and Julien devoted this much space to that, perhaps that sense is not so common.

  • Yes common sense indeed but that is because we ‘get it’; there are so many that do not, those that either need to be convinced that there is nothing to be afraid of or that there is more to maintaining a presence than just a few words.

  • Yes, this does seem like common sense, but agree w/Phillip – many don’t get it. Some people join twitter and never have a conversation. When someone new follows me, I check their profile. If they are only making statements, never replying to others, I don’t usually follow back. They are only there to broadcast, not conversate.
    I’m interested in getting to know people’s humanness, and therefore tend to share personal stuff online so my quirks are available. Agree that many people are afraid to be real online. Those of us who are, reap the benefits of connectedness. And brings a desire to meet face-to-face.

    I think we should assemble a mission trip and visit Phillip to have a tweetup in Cape Town, South Africa. Who’s in? =)

  • lol
    We should all try to connect in some manner via TokBox or video over Skype – that would be interesting. I’d probable sit there with a mouth full of teeth and nothing to say.

  • Yeah, those sorta seem like no-brainers to me, too. At the same time, though, I wish I was better at doing those things. I try to take a multiple-front approach. That is, I try to connect with a person on their blog and then also on Twitter (just 2 examples), even if that means that I send them a quick @reply to let them know I commented on their post. I think that doing that shows that there’s a little more genuineness involved on my part…either that or it makes me look desperate.

  • Well Phillip… I try to comment on blogs as much as I can. I’m learning a lot from this book. But like I said in my post… I use the same avatar across all my social networks. And I use ‘gbrenna’ pretty much everywhere too. I was super not creative when I thought that one up. haha…

    Good stuff!

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