Social Lessons from the King - It's Being Human That's the Hard Part - Tom Troja

By thomas troja Media Biz Bloggers Archives

At the beginning of "The King's Speech" Colin Firth, as the soon-to-be King George VI, stands before his soon-to-be subjects and fails miserably. He can barely get a word out. The next hour is the story of this man's struggle to break free of what binds him and stand up in a perilous moment to instill confidence in his product, Great Britain.


This story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist that helped mirrors our time well. His people needed a leader, a voice where they could find the courage to do the hard things it takes to change with the times and be successful. Brands need their leaders at this time to recognize and deal with the clouds of change hovering over them.

Brands today are like the King. For years they have stood at the microphones of their day by proxy, propped up be agencies. It really wasn't the brands talking with the people, it was their agents. Fast forward to Social 2013 where brands are expected to post everyday across multiple social platforms, their stuttering is being heard. Like the King, they have much work to do.


Brands have little experience at being asked to speak directly with people, to be interesting and meaningful everyday, week, month and year. These last many decades have insulated brands behind media walls and focused on pushing content… advertising. Yes that is still important but how many Superbowls and men jumping from space can most brands tap into?.

In the Kings Speech, at the end of the movie, the King looks directly into the technology of his day and reaches the hearts and minds of his people. How he got to that moment is the story that earned 83 Awards. The REAL story is the King's very human struggle, the hard work and soul searching to find his own identity that allowed him his moment of triumph. That is the real story brands can learn from.


To speak effectively, in a meaningful human way that touches people day after day, brands need to work as hard on who they are as the King did. They need to believe that identity and character are more important than the technology and the numbers and it is there they will win. They need to be themselves and do it themselves by having and hiring the right people to project the Brand as an individual and build that solid base from which all will grow.

There is an overriding assumption in our industry that technology, numbers and platforms are more important to cleave to then the humanity and connection people crave and gravitate toward. We tend to leave the connective tissue… the emotional, meaningful and spiritual stuff to the agency… an outsider.


Brands will never get the numbers they crave without the meaningful humanity part… if brands don't do that deep digging, they will just be tracking and counting content that never really stirs the soul, measuring only half their potential.

Technology is important, it got us here but all the technology in the world can't make someone cry…. Except in frustration.

Social is no fad nor a passing storm that will be over soon. The people now have the tools to control their time and attention. They will never give that back to the interrupters of the networks and media outlets that controlled access in the past. Brands will have to earn this in new ways where being meaningful, trustful and transparent are the tickets to enter and win.

Brands that choose not to bring in house the day-to-day social communication skill sets and management of direct relationships are making a mistake that will take years to reverse. Paid agents, no matter how good, are not you. This truth becomes apparent to people over time who see the same contests, questions, polls, apps newsrooms, promotions, and tactics they know are just gimmicks to grab their eyes.


There are brands that understand this premise that humanity trumps technology. They've done the work to articulate and scribe what is meaningful about and to themselves and in turn attracts legions of followers that now feel connected to them everyday. They are prepared to make meaningful connections day after day.

The Red Bulls and Jack Daniel's of the world have learned that the future power resides with the people and for brands… in becoming one of them. These brands are succeeding directly with the people as that old world is falling away. Listen to the King, being human is the hard part.

*Images courtesy of "The Kings Speech"

As CEO of the Social Symphony, Tom works with brands like Jack Daniel's and Red Bull to help them create and deepen relationships with people in social, implementing his Social Archetyping™ that gets brands talking like a person, talking with people, natural, attractive, human and capable. Tom can be reached at

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