The Psychology of FDNY & Pinterest

After my college life, facing the reality of the real world, like most people, I began to wonder if I got the right degree. I started off in the science world, biology and zoology, but quickly changed my mind to marketing after the likes of Kantian Deontology made my head hurt just trying to pronounce it. And a great choice it was… it truly is the passion of my career. However, there has always been something that I wish I would have explored a little more deeply; Psychology. I am completely enamored by the way that people choose, align with certain things, and just go about their daily lives. I think understanding the way the individual’s mind works allows us as marketers to develop products and brands to enhance the individual needs and lives of our consumers.

As a digital native and professional, the psychology of the Web 2.0 world has been something of an exciting time; the way people connect with each other, why certain platforms succeed, what content is shared, and where brands play a role in the ecosystem (if they play a role). It is an amazing human experiment to see what platforms grow and die; new ways of sharing explode while others fail; different types of content being shared over others… all with an underlying human need, the need to feel included and part of something bigger; the alignment with others around a centralized idea or notion.

While pondering the rise and permeation of Pinterest, at a bar of course, I witnessed something amazing. An older gentleman, who was by himself, walks up to the semi-crowded, dimly lit bar with the Yankees game playing in the back ground. The one thing that stood out to me about this person was the fact that he was alone and was wearing a jacket with an FDNY patch on it. When the bartender took his order, he asked the gentleman about the patch and disclosed that he was 30 years, retired from FDNY. The gentleman simply answered “35. Retired.” What transpired after was something truly amazing… The camaraderie and conversation that these two “strangers” had was deep and engaging, something that you would think longtime friends would have; not two strangers who just met.

The camaraderie and conversation that these two “strangers” had was deep and engaging, something that you would think longtime friends would have; not two strangers who just met

The initial connection about FDNY created a sense of trust and relationship that would never have been there had the gentleman worn a different jacket into the bar that day. This single connection gave a sense of purpose, a sense of understanding between the two. Now think about this story in the new digital landscape… We are in the midst of fulfilling natural human behaviors through shared connections, content, and discussions put forth through a new medium. To think about “Social Media” any other way is simply absurd.

As we look into jumping on the new thing or investing in a new start up, ask yourself, does this piece of technology enable this core, human dynamic of connection or self-expression? If so, you might have a winner.

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