Social Accidents Looking For a Place to Happen

by Jay Deragon on 10/04/2012

Organizations and social gurus are now propagating the need for “social strategies” but few seem to be addressing the real strategic need….social wisdom.

Social wisdom is the ability to understand what attracts the human network to become purposely engaged with anyone and anything.  Much of the dialog around “social strategies” is about altering the traditional marketing process by trying to make the output seem more human.  Or worse yet the filter by which “social strategies” are currently developed have turned to the language of business, not the language of the human network.

The word “social and business” simply do not mix well.  The human networks purpose is not the purpose of most businesses.  Subsequently when we think about “social strategies” we think about organizations and people using social to achieve a business objective rather than a human objective.

Pursuit of Human Influence

Everyone and every company appears to be pursuing an objective of “influence”. In a recent article by Mark Schaefer titled  35 experts weigh-in: How we create influence on Facebook cited seven things required to gain influence on the internet. The seven things were:

  1. Be Useful
  2. Be Visual
  3. Be Generous
  4. Be Real
  5. Be Surprising
  6. Be Consistent
  7. Engage Thoughtfully
The article was written by a marketer. The 35 Experts that provided the input for the article represented themselves as “marketers”.  The definition of marketer is someone who promotes or exchanges goods or services for money. While wisdom is required for marketers to succeed it is not the same as “social wisdom”.  All the “be’s” cited are human attributes but organizations that try and leverage those attributes are interested in fulfilling an economic rather than human purpose.
The primary problem with the pursuit of social strategies is the process is dominated by insight from marketers. So when it comes to all this chatter and propagation about empowering people, leveraging social strategies and engaging with your market, it usually ends up as an accident looking for a place to happen.

Real “social strategies” come from the application of new knowledge to solving old problems and subsequently enhancing the position and productivity of the human network.  Enhancing the position and productivity of the human network is more about enabling people to fulfill their purpose. Applying traditional practices of marketing to “be more influential with humans” by using social technology is not a strategy, it is tactical and anti-social because it isn’t part of the human purpose.

Labeling purposeless tactical activity as strategic is like creating a strategic plan without involving the people who are supposed to execute the plan. Both are accidents looking for a place to happen.


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