How Long Can They Pretend?

by Jay Deragon on 05/22/2008

Brands are hiring people to lead their “social initiatives“. Armed with some perceived power afforded by the new position these individuals charge forward with initiatives to help the brands become more social and responsive to customers.

They engage in Twitter, get their brands positioned with a blog, gain presence in “communities” and try to position the brand as “open and willing to change” based on customer feedback and desires. These new “social contacts” for brands may be like a deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car.

Change Doesn’t Come From Pretending to be Social

The quality of social interaction is driven by the organizations entire “system” of interactions lead by management. The current craze by brands wanting to ride the “social wave” is akin to corporations trying to ride the “quality movement” of the 80’s and 90’s. Those that used quality as a differential started by changing the thinking that managed the “system” and it permeated from the top down. Those that faked it hired a Quality Guru and made quality their responsibility. The later failed.

In a panel on “Business Innovations that are Changing the World,” Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said: “Let’s not forget that the fundamental goal of any corporation is to change the world and not just to satisfy the interests of particular stakeholders. Companies that open themselves up to promoting and fully leveraging the social dimension of human beings in order to create smarter and more effective solutions for social problems will be the winners of this new social economy.

Why Pretending is Easy to Detect

A brand may understand all the social tools but knowing “how” to use them to fix their own house is another issue. My garage is full of tools but I cannot build a house. Those that know me would laugh if I tried to pretend I knew how to build a house.

Customers know brands based on past experiences. Hiring people to manage a social initiative is not the Socialution. Most organizational cultures have not built “social environments” required for inside changes.

Unless leadership of an organization starts from the inside out then any social initiative is likely to be labeled as fake, insincere and not a real Socialution. Pretending to be something your not is in fact anti social and people can see, hear and smell it a mile away.

If you keep pretending the situation will only get worse and the outcomes of anti social behavior is that people will no longer consider you a friend. With less and less friends to support you who will pay your future bills? If your actions are consistently anti social but you consider yourself BIG enough to bully a market, beware. The market is collectively BIGGER than you ever thought you could be and markets can shift at the click of a mouse. What happens to the Deer that doesn’t move?

What say you?

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