First of all, let’s get the origin of the phrase right. According to the interwebs…
The phrase “toe the line” is equivalent to “toe the mark,” both of which mean to conform to a rule or a standard. The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002; ed. by Glynnis Chantrell) says, “The idiom toe the line from an athletics analogy originated in the early 19th century” (514).The specific sport referred to is foot-racing, where the competitors must keep their feet behind a “line” or on a “mark” at the start of the race–as in “On your mark, get set, go!” So one who “toes the line” is one who does not allow his foot to stray over the line. In other words, one who does not stray beyond a rigidly defined boundary.
Many of you probably thought that the phrase was “tow the line” as in “towing the company line.” But either way, my point is this: in all of your digital efforts, you should be toeing and towing the HUMAN line first – and the company line second. Stay with me here. Who do humans want to connect with? That’s right, other humans. And when you put the human element first, you have a better chance of leaving an impression. You’re not a voice on the other end of the line or a set of fingers typing on a keyboard somewhere representing a faceless company. You’re a person. With hopes and dreams and good days and bad days and a life away from your job. You’re a person. Just like whomever is on the other end of that connection.
It’s the first rule of representing a company in a community: Be human. And not only will you make your connections stronger, but you will “humanize the brand,” as the Scott Monty‘s of the world put it.
So repeat after me: Human first. Company second. And just watch how things start to change for the better.