I’m not a big believer in the easy one-liner.

They are often overly clever and skirt the details rather than encouraging us to dive in.

This one does ring true to me. It’s become a personal mantra as I reexamine my online presence this holiday season.

I’m prodded to think smarter about what authentic value I bring to my clients, blog readers and friends. To stretch beyond just being good at what I do. It questions not my worth but the value that others perceive in me.

When I push on this thought, I end up thinking about personal referrals as the true standard of trust, the currency of my business life. Figuring out how to crack shareability, it comes down to the value of what I do in my community’s eyes. A plunge of self-discovery from my network’s point of view.

Asking ‘why my customers care and why they share’ speaks to why I create content for my blogs, Facebook wall and Twitter streams. It’s the intersection of self-expression and market perception.

It focuses me personally in a positive way.

I’ve taken it to my accounts, looking at clients’ product and community designs as a metaphor to understand why people in a community engage. As an actionable understanding behind the traffic numbers and analytics that we pound on daily to grow our businesses.

It’s just not enough to be excellent. You need to discover a community that inspires as well appreciates.

Your customers demand trust and want to value your interactions with them. The true connection exists more between you and them, more in the comments and the process, than in what they receive and consume.

If your customers feel connected, they will become your channel and support you through good times and bad.

Look at the chatter around Gary Vaynerchuck’s winelibrary.com credit card security breach. It’s all over the net. A nightmare for everyone, especially us, the customers.

My wine networks and Facebook pages have been abuzz about this. Not abuzz with anger at GaryV. The opposite. The community, rather than balking, are collectively aghast and supportive, not collectively angry at winelibrary.  They feel that the attack is on them and they rallied together.

People seriously like winelibrary.com. The business will live through this just fine. Other businesses would have folded. They may even grow as a result.

This highlights the truism that if your customers are there just to buy, you don’t have a social problem, you have a significant business one. You won’t get found. Your networks will never be enough. Your customers will simply not tolerate mistakes or appreciate your foibles.

No one is selling anything that can’t be bought somewhere else. From wine to cars to cold-pressed green smoothies, it’s all a commodity. Your business and your brand exists in the community space, the dynamic connection between your customers and you as a person or a brand.

Certainly, I’m a realist. We don’t love Amazon, but they treat the consumer really well. They are easy and personal to deal with. We don’t love Netflix either and they treated the customer like a line item on a profitability spreadsheet and every customer will be unconcerned if they vanish. No one will care.

“Why care? Why share?” is worth asking yourself. Especially in the face of what feels like an anti-social, back-to-basics business backlash lately.

In blog discussions and most conferences, there’s often someone with a rebel poise (usually young and successful) who reminds us with a smile that business is all about money.

True…but that’s not how you create value. Money is the offshoot of value, not the cause of it.

Customers and transactions are not the same thing. In almost every case, the customer is worth more than the sum of their transactions. This is true for almost every business, from yoga gear to running shoes to classic sports cars.

Every community will be different but the human touch is always its indelible fingerprint.

Before we earn our customer’s dollars, we need to earn their sense of belonging and astonishment, their satisfaction, and their finding value great enough to act as a leverage point to their networks.

We want them to care enough to share.

@dpinsen, a friend, entrepreneur in financial services, and brilliant pragmatist started a great comment string in my last post. At the core of the discussion is whether community and social loops are applicable across all verticals and types of products.

We are on opposite sides of this debate. He makes a strong argument that community is tied to passion and passion is not equal across all types of groups. He’s right to a degree, but I just don’t believe there is a business that can exist without the extended good will of its customers. And that good will is enough spark to build community on.

Community is an ideal with pragmatic hooks that are applicable to every business in every possible sector. Commerce isn’t about goods, it’s about people. It always has been, and the measure of value is somehow wrapped in customer’s intent to care enough to share.

Are the needs of my dentist, my vet, my doctor and my local wine shop all the same? No question.

Customer acquisition cost and churn is the largest expense and the biggest worry for all of these business. And these businesses couldn’t be more different.

Do I share a great wine on sale at my local shop 10X more than my satisfaction with the other services? Certainly. But social loops are core, without exception, to every branded service and product  I consume.

And even though the cost of services is completely different for every one, the value of a referral is paramount. To the vet where I bring my cat to the wine I’m having at the Thanksgiving table…referrals within a scale of relevance matter.

The “Why care?” “Why share?” phrase came from a presentation by Facebook’s Kay Madati at the socialtvsummit in New York last week. He was lecturing big media brands on how to effectively advertise to Facebook users. It was a salesperson’s ‘We are the platform’ version of ‘Think differently’.

He was selling an advertising platform. I heard a refrain on how to think about the culture of commerce in my world.

Understanding is iterative at its core. Ongoing and daily a new revelation. It’s been a great gift to have a question broad enough to frame the discussion each day in a new way.

It’s been really useful. I thought I’d share it forward.

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