Like many people involved in marketing, I am fascinated with the impact of social media on consumers, businesses, and all in between. Like many of my bretheren, I subscribe to a laundry list of RSS feeds, blogs, and newsletters, all revealing tales of how social media is the cure for our age, how some companies “get it”, how customers are taking control, how we will all, once and for all, get exactly what we deserve.
But enough is enough. We can’t expect Facebook, Twitter, or any electronic forum to guilt or shame any business into some semblance of social responsibility, if they are just too big, too powerful, to listen.
The Wellpoints and Goldman Sachs of the world don’t embrace any of our social media banter. Not one bit. These types of companies will use the time tested, good old fashioned sour mash mix of misinformation, newspeak, and PR bullshit that the marketing biz is so very good at providing.
No ladies and gentlemen, why don’t we all draw a line in the sand, and please admit that all this buzz is just that. Social media tools are great for organizations that truly enter into a social contract with their customers. Hence the “social” thing.
Even many of the worst corporate entities in America can stand to benefit. But to really do so, it takes a huge transformational effort internally. We all work under the rather animistic notion that companies have personalities. And what is the source of this illusion? The CEO perhaps? The customer service team? The PR and marketing folks?
The true personality of a company, or any organization, must ultimately reside with how it behaves to others. This must include its customers, vendors, distributors, local community, the ground it is built on. Everything.
Zappos recently came under fire for putting way too many ad agencies through the ringer by announcing an open casting call, so to speak. Many firms scrambled for the chance, not really understanding that it was really an embarassing situation for Zappos, and whoever ultimately got in the card game. Why? Because on the front end, Zappos has a reputation for being really nice to their customers, almost providing the illusion that they have your back, dude.
But man, on the backend, to set up a cattle call for ad agencies is just wrong. This is a good example of the actions of a psychopath, and the disease must be treated before any social media tools are handed out.
I don’t see any marketing or “new marketing” pundits out there even talking about corporate “personality profiles” or such as a major part of their makeover packages.
Chris Carfi, over at The Social Customer, created a few years back an excellent Manifesto that attempted to define the push to social media driven consumer power.
The complimentary piece needs to be a Consumer Bill of Rights. Now I have attempted to push such a concept at the last two companies I worked for, and it met dull ears. But I believe to rally around such a thing can and will help a company set itself on the right path, and help it define its “personality”.
I’m going to leave you to think about this, with a video of Wendell Berry. Do take the time to watch it. My point in this post is to get you thinking about connectedness.