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Social Letters of Intent

Every time someone post something online the context of their content reveals an intent. Intentions have become transparent and discernment of intent is becoming the wisdom of crowds.

The aggregation of consumer conversations enabled by technology has fueled awareness of market methods and intents. Consumers have found influence  and have begun to “opt out” of the old methods created by old market methods of intent to capture and sell.

Social technology has created a transparency of intent. Intent is a relational attribute that reveals motive. The “markets of conversations” are no longer motivated by old methods used by the markets over the last 40 years.    Doc Searls saysThe Intention Economy is built around more than transactions. Conversations matter. So do relationships. So do reputation, authority and respect. Those virtues, however, are earned by sellers (as well as buyers) and not just “branded” by sellers on the minds of buyers like the symbols of ranchers burned on the hides of cattle.”

A Brands Letter of Intent

A letter of intent or LOI is a document outlining an agreement between two or more parties before the agreement is finalized. Such agreements may be for employment, acquisitions, mergers, purchases of services or products. Agreements which aim to specify the intents of parties engaged in a relationship for specific purposes.

The purposes of a LOI may be:

  • to clarify the key points of a complex or simple transaction for the convenience of the parties
  • to declare officially that the parties are now engaged with an intent implied or specifically spelled out
  • to offer safeguards for when the relationship collapses during an engagement with intent

A LOI may also be referred to as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), term sheet or discussion sheet. The different terms show different styles, but do not show any difference under law. Social letters of intent exist when and where buyers and sellers engage on-line through the exchange of information and later a transaction which has certain expectations of delivery.

Social Agreements Represent LOI’s

When people engage with other people or entire organizations on-line there is an implied social agreement represented within the communications. The social agreement may be in response to an inquiry, a comment on posted content or an intent to investigate or take action from an ad or marketing message.  The social agreement may also simply be a response to a need or an exchange of communications centric to topical discussions.

Given the reach of social technology and the engagement of markets, buyers and sellers, the underlying social agreement is similar to the traditional letter of intent. While social agreements are not legal instruments the expectations of fulfillment by both parties remain the same as if they were legally agreements.

The very nature of social technology and the emerging dynamics are raising people’s expectation to fulfill implied intents contained in context with the content (communications). It is clear that traditional marketing and advertising methods are being rejected because the intent of such methods are not what buyers expect. Today’s buyers expect honesty, integrity, responsiveness, performance and respect for their time, attention and intentions.

Cluttering buyers time, attention and relevant intentions with irrelevant ads and slick marketing messages does not show respect. Treating buyers like cattle waiting to be herded does not show respect.  The currency of communications represents the value of ones intent to fulfill or fail to fulfill the intent of a social agreement.  Failure to fulfill a social agreement means the buyers currency, both in the form of money and communications, will not follow you rather both will be spent and shared elsewhere.

Social letters of intent are not created by or from the supplier rather from the buyer. To ignore or not fulfill these intents means you lose the buyers currency and that of their “friends”. That represents a return, or lack thereof, from this thing called social media.

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