Social Tactics: Tricks of the Trade

by Jay Deragon on 09/29/2010

Over the years companies have developed the “tricks of their trade”. Most of the tricks have been centric to sales and marketing tactics. Using print, television and online techniques marketing “tricks” have been used to lull buyers into traps using attention and attraction techniques.

The typical objective of a “trick” has been aimed at capturing a potential customers attention, getting their information and then pressing them for a sale of whatever is being offered. Bombarded by spam, banner ads, telemarketers, junk mail, forced registrations aimed at capturing our data and the host of “techniques” to grab a customer,  people have become tired and annoyed by the tricks of the trade.

People have been targeted as dumb objectives to be manipulated into spending money impulsively.

Many have only to suffer the consequences or irritation of a product or service that doesn’t fulfill on its promise. Everyone has been affected, or infected, with a distaste and distrust for media, marketing and the latest sales technique.

The new models of entertaining and creative ads are just that, entertainment. Beyond the entertainment experience consumers still fundamentally don’t trust “the story being told”. Everyone is looking for something and someone genuine.

What About Employee Relations?

Businesses who have adopted the tricks of the trade have internalized the tricks and subsequently communicated with employees with the same spin as they do with customers and the market at large. Promises for bonuses only taken away due to poor operating results out of the employees control. Employee contract terms and conditions broken. Power struggles internally resulting in unsettled work environments and favoritism. Employee survey after survey asking for feedback and then nothing suggested gets implemented. Those that speak up and suggest change with a loud voice get displaced or terminated in time. Consider the following:

  • A Gallup study indicates that “actively disengaged” employees – workers who are fundamentally disconnected from their jobs – are costing the U.S. economy between $292 billion and $355 billion a year. This finding appears in the inaugural issue of Gallup’s new quarterly, the Gallup Management Journal (GMJ).
  • These estimates are based on a recent Gallup “Q12” employee engagement survey of the U.S. workforce, which calculates that 24.7 million workers (19%) are actively disengaged. The survey found that actively disengaged workers are absent from work 3.5 more days a year than other workers – or 86.5 million days in all.

Given that the above examples represent a systemic problem in media, marketing and management, people have found power of expression within the social web. The very dynamics which cause the social web to grow are the results of years of spin from media, marketing and management. People are connecting with people and enjoying the freedom to relate and converse without restraint or cultural barriers.

The tricks of the new trade are now being built on relational conversations that are open, frank and without restraint. The tricks are no longer tricks except for those that try and use the medium in the old ways. The conflict is that the majority of users get it and will quickly reject a “trick” and in response tell an entire community, one to one to millions, to watch out for your trick.

For those corporations and media jumping in and considering the old tricks,beware, you may hurt yourself and your brand. Creditability can be lost at the click of a mouse from one to one to millions

Seth Godin writes: The digital world, even the high end brands, has become a sleazy carnival, complete with hawkers, barkers and a bearded lady. By the time someone actually gets to your site, they’ve been conned, popped up, popped under and upsold so many times they really have no choice but to be skeptical.

Basically, it’s a race to the bottom, with so many people spamming trackbacks, planning popups and scheming to trick the surfer with this or that that we’ve bullied people into a corner of believing no one.

Would you befriend someone or an organization that plays tricks on you and steals your time?  Not likely and the thinking behind such designs is considered anti-social and people get irritated and reject such attempts.

To think of social media as an extension of old marketing methods is to ignore the preferences of the market. To ignore the preferences of the buyer is the same as saying “we don’t care what buyers want”. Not caring about buyer preferences reflects stinking thinking.

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