Me: Hi, my name is Karen Pace. I would like to interview you.

As part of the interview process for a potentially amazing position, I was asked to complete the following task:

“* Interview a stranger.
* Share what you learned.
* Post it to social and send us a link.
* Include a #.
* No rules.
* No min/max characters.”

My first two attempts at interviewing strangers resulted in a clear, resounding, “NO!” (The third woman I asked said, “Yes.” But, I’ll come back to her.)

Turns out that strangers don’t like to be interviewed. It occurred to me that this exercise would need the three things that are necessary for all brand social media content.

1. Context
“Can I interview you?” Without context is too abrupt, too off-putting and too invasive without context.

Me: I would like to interview you BECAUSE I am applying for a dream position and they have tasked us with interviewing a stranger.

This sentence provides context for the user to decide whether they will take part. If they know WHY they are being interviewed, (job, source, date, etc.), then they are more willing to participate.

2. Connection

Woman: What is the dream job?

She is now emotionally connected to me, and this gives her some small vested interest in participating. She wants to hear about a “dream” opportunity. She wants to internalize it and see if it resonates with her own dreams and goals. She wants to hear about it because she want to hear about my dream job. And in the end, she hopes I get the position!

3. Engagement

Me: Please, tell me about the favorite year of your life.

Woman: (without hesitation) 1969.

The woman, whom I had approached in the pasta aisle of the grocery store, told me about the year she traveled with the USO throughout Korea. She was older now, but she said she “remembered the details like it was yesterday.” She briefly described for me the travel and the conditions. She described making friends that stayed with her for life. I asked a few more brief questions, and then I let her go to resume her shopping.

The details of her story were less important to me than how she felt about her story. You could see her connection to the topic. You could see her passion for remembering the feelings from those shows. And, you could see her real concern for me. At the end, she said she truly hoped that I get this job.

She talked, I listened. This is the true heart of engagement.

Brands can no longer rely on gimmicks (kittens and celebrities) to attain and maintain relationships with users. The social market is flooded with brands competing for time and attention.
The brands that will do it the best are brands that can provide content that has these three qualities:
1. Context – Give your audience what they want and need to know, not just content for content’s sake.
2. Connection– Connect with the audience through the use of humor, emotion, humanity.
3. Engagement – See every post (organic & paid) as an opportunity to create engagement through questions, listening and conversation.


UPDATE: I passed on this opportunity. Good work, good people, not for me.

Strangers Don’t Like to be Interviewed
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