Crossing the Social Chasm

by Jay Deragon on 09/22/2010

There are those who believe that social technology presents significant opportunities for improving business dynamics and  relations. Then there are those who are skeptics and don’t believe nor see any value in this thing we call social media.

The difference between the two beliefs represents the “social chasm“. The “social chasm” represents the pronounced difference of opinion, interests, and loyalty to an idea or belief. The challenge is helping leaders “cross the social chasm” is to convince them to believe in something they don’t understand.

The problem is business leaders are trained to believe in results driven old business models and not ideas that drive results.

Old business models are designed around measuring output, results, of every business process, resource or product as well as anything and everything that cost capital.  Resistance to any new idea or initiative comes when leaders cannot see or understand how results will come from any new idea or initiative.

Crossing the Social Chasm

Since the markets are influenced by old business models everyone is trying to fit social media into those old models. The “social” gurus suggest that the common mistake people make when pitching social media to senior management is:

  1. Lack of strategy.
  2. Lack of vision.
  3. Lack of execution skills.

Notice that the above list fails to discuss having the wrong philosophy, beliefs. Why would you try to form a strategy without addressing the beliefs? How can you envision something of value if your visions are stuck in old business models or the wrong beliefs? You can execute all day long but if execution are aimed at chasing the wrong things for the wrong reason then the odds for success are slim.

Is Social Media It’s Own Worse Enemy?

Social gurus are trying to convince  executives in companies everywhere to hire them so they can show them how to use social media.  Social gurus are catering to the existing beliefs of the corporations because it is the corporation that has  control over people’s motivation, money. Social media are communications reflecting the shifts in consumer sentiments about everything including the beliefs that corporations hang onto for controlling people and markets.

If the market of social gurus are not willing to stand up to the power and control of corporations and challenging their beliefs then the market of self-appointed gurus  are in fact the enemy of “social media”. Then again since the corporation has the money many people will compromise principles by bowing to the corporation for the sake of getting money.

What most CEO’s believe is that use of social media creates threats to “the corporations” power and control over people and markets.  Subsequently they look for ways to use social media to further their control and yet the “wisdom of the crowds” sees right through those beliefs and rejects  their media.

Few see social media as a shift in business philosophy. Old business models are grounded in old beliefs. New business models are emerging and reflecting a new belief. The new belief is that the “voice of the people” is no longer contained within corporate walls and controlled by what the corporation says. The people have known forever that their beliefs are different from the corporation’s beliefs and they have kept their opinions to a few outside the corporate walls.  Now the people are sharing with many and gathering around the “virtual world-wide water cooler” swapping frustration, lies and the political games that have been used to control them for a very long time.

The social chasm represents a large ravine between the sentiment of “the people” and that of “the corporation“. Crossing the social chasm is no longer a compromise for the people rather a needed shift in beliefs of the corporation and all it has believed for many many years. If you don’t think this is true just ask the people.


oirysf February 9, 2012 at 6:51 am

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Ilaria February 9, 2012 at 4:09 am

a tghuhot out-loud and in person or whether they post it online the tghuhot was still broadcast. However, the United States Constitution protects every citizens right to freedom of speech, and it is not constitutional to grant the federal government unlimited access and control, for the sake of an isolated incident. Compare it to grade school when a teacher would punish the entire class for the actions of a few with the goal of putting pressure on the guilty party by their now angry peers. No matter how “effective” these regulations would be in controlling and monitoring criminal activity, the rights of law abiding citizens should not be sacrificed to pursuit of this goal. The government and law enforcement is simply going to have to find others ways at apprehending and prosecuting offenders. This stance on the issue does not give law enforcement and the government the “strong-hand,” raising the question that “should the government and law enforcement always have the upper hand, even at the expense of betraying the laws and values they dedicate their life to upholding?” After all, the government and law enforcement work for the citizens of this country, not the other way around.

Slava September 23, 2010 at 2:27 am

I think there are quite a few problems with your approach. The first point in the chart is essentially the same. “What can we sell customers” vs “What does the customer need to get done” is two sides of the medal. You can’t sell stuff that people don’t want.

“Follow the crowd” Really? With the invention of cars, airplanes, with creation of computer and Internet – was that following the crowd?

Social media doesn’t discard proven and true business methods – it adds to them. Yes, now customers have much more convenient back channel in communications, yes, now sometimes stuff can really hit the fan too fast, but the principles are still the same. You still need cost-benefit analysis, you still need to leverage technology to lower the costs.. The All-Social-Media business is utopian, sadly mostly(note: mostly!) non-profit too. Whereas usual business + social media channels is mostly profitable.

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