Justin has more Facebook friends than I do.

A couple of days ago I put up a Facebook page for my Solomon Island Eclectus parrot, Justin. (Justin Eclectus, if you want to check it out). He already has 122 friends and more show up every day.  They have names like Anna Pigeon, Arby Macaw, Elvis Eclectus (close cousin), Cosmo Talks, Pepper Mint and Happy Socks (who has 2600+ friends, btw).  Some of Justin’s Facebook friends don’t speak English. Some of his friends don’t even write English. Some are birds, like him. Some are people who own birds. And some are people who, for whatever reason, just want to be his friend.

For those of us who are a bit Facebook paranoid, there is something to be said for the anonymity of a pet page. Justin has proactively invited birds he doesn’t know to be his friend. I don’t do that with people. Justin is also much more likely than I am to accept friend invitations from birds and people he doesn’t know.

For the most part, his friends are part of a group of people who have anthropomorphized their pet birds.  People who have found other people with similar feelings and who, like me, are willing to come out of the closet and share our oddest relationships with each other and the world.  Are we friends?  Not by the typical definition.  But we are a community.  And there’s a comfort in it. We feel safe in this community because we understand each other.

Aw, sweet, you say. Well, maybe you don’t say that.  But you might ask what does any of this have to do with business?  And I say it has everything to do with business.  Business is about relationships.  People develop relationships with you or your brands or your businesses when they know what you stand for and believe you understand them and their needs.  This little group of bird lovers has all those qualifications. We know what each of us stands for (vis-à-vis birds, anyway) and we understand each other.  And so even though we have never met, and don’t even speak the same language, we have a relationship.

When you think about your brand, think about the humanity in how people relate to it.  A relationship is a relationship, whether it is between a customer and a brand, or between people who share a common interest.  The dynamic doesn’t change.

Since the time I started writing this, Justin picked up 41 more friends.  And I believe it is because what he stands for…or what he stands for in my life…is so clearly and easily understood that likeminded people can gravitate to it.  If your brand is clearly defined and communicated in a way that people know and understand, your customers will gravitate to you too.

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