Do you remember, way back in your salad days, hanging out with your friends and chatting away about the things that were of utmost importance? Remember the time one of your parents thought they could hang with you for a bit?

Hey kids. What are we all rapping about today? You can talk to me about it. I’m with it. I’m groovy. I’m hip to your jive.

hey kids, I'm hip to your jive

Now think. Think real hard. How likely were you to engage with that adult? Were you set to ‘rap’ with them? Were you willing to share with them your hopes and your fears and your dreams, or were you just shooting them dagger eyes and hoping desperately that they would drop dead?

Is your company trying to ‘rap’ with those facebook millennial crowd? Are you finding yourself a moment away from telling the folks on the gaming forum that if they only washed their dishes with your company’s brand of soap they would “t0tally pwn teh grease and grime…. d00ds… ftw. really.”

You can’t win acceptance with a community by trying to pose as one of them. If you are not one of them then you need to approach very clearly as being an outsider. You need to be authentic. You need to be yourself. Otherwise you will not only fail in your attempt to engage, but you push them away from the brand you represent.

Back in your teen years, not every adult was a square. There was always that one stand out who didn’t try to talk to you like a teenager, they just talked to you like a person. For that, and that alone, you would grant them a little respect and welcome them into your discussions from time to time.

As your company moves into the social media space and you attempt to connect with the communities you uncover there, it would do well to think long and hard about your approach. Are you going to approach like a parent joining their teens at the thrash metal concert, or are you going to approach like a person?

Original cartoon by Rob Clark