Which Perpsective Works for You?

by Jay Deragon on 05/13/2008

Which perspective works for you?There is clearly a divide between businesses who understand the “shifts” happening and those that don’t. Whether a Fortune 500 or a small business owner the divides in understanding will separate the winners from the losers.

Consider These Conversations

Tim Leberecht writes: “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.” Indeed, this was the overarching theme of an economic summit that was all about social: social innovation, social media, social networks, social web, and social capitalism. What once was a noble mission is now a mandate for CEOs: the future of business is social, both in terms of raison d’etre and modus operandi. 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.”

Brian Morrissey writes: For Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos, meeting up with a customer at a bar in midtown Manhattan was perfectly natural. Most execs with 1,600 employees and doing over $1 billion in annual sales would probably pass on having drinks with an individual customer, but Hsieh is not your typical CEO. In the past week alone he had given away shoes on Twitter, sent out an open invitation to a company barbecue and solved a service problem a customer left in a blog comment. If this seems exhausting, Hsieh sees it as part of a larger strategy to build Zappos into a brand on par with Virgin.

“We think our brand is going to be different because we want people to feel there’s a real person they’re connecting with, whether it’s when they call us or through Twitter or any way they come in contact with us,” he said.

“All we do is try to respond to what users are asking for,” he said. “That’s how we set our priorities. Users aren’t asking us to run ads, so it doesn’t come onto our radar.”

At the heart of these decisions is a simple fact of life with the Internet: Everyone is connected, and hiding behind glossy images won’t work when a Google search can turn up the good, bad and ugly of your company. In the analog world, it was different. Haque believes brands thrived on how difficult it was for people to get information. Logos, spokespersons and slogans combined to give consumers a way to make choices. But now, the Internet has turned that on its head. “The entire economic rationale for brands is gone,” Haque said in an interview. “Interaction is too easy now for brands to have power.”

Professor Henry Jenkins of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT articulates a world in which young people have a very different relationship with media consumption. This is the migration from consumption as an individual practice to consumption as a networked practice – which I might add is voluntary. Convergence Jenkins argues is also a culture phenomenon rather than a technological one Culture Jenkins argues is today Participatory.

Clay Shirky writes a very philosophical piece about culture/media and participation. His assessment is that social computing is a major shift in consumer behavior and market influences. He presented at Web 2.0 Summit in April and you can view his insightful presentation here

Jonathan Schwartz at Sun said “Our 1000 bloggers at Sun have done more for this company than a $1bn ad campaign could have ever done.”

And the Other Side Says

1. This is just a fad

2. We don’t want our employees participating in social media

3. We don’t want to give our customers too much power

4. You can’t make money using social media and social networks for business

5. That stuff is just for kids

Which side is closest to reality? An ancient Chinese proverb says: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

People like to be engaged, participate, discover and explore. The people have been limited but now they seem to be set free.

What say you?

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