People don’t buy what you make they buy why you make them. Simon Sinek has a model for inspirational leadership starting with the question “Why?”. He discusses the diffusion of innovation model that I’m a big fan of Thanks to Jon Sinton for the link.
Because its get to the root of social media and big business. The very value of social media. Nestle is getting hammered and guess what? They deserve it. Ya wanna know what else? They’ll be the better for the lickin’ they are taking.
Still one has to wonder how it is that a billion dollar conglomerate who sells fructose as baby formula figures its a good idea to go out into social media without hiring help. Cheese on a Ritz fellas, who walks out on stage in a stadium without practicing?
So there it is– we all owe a huge smattering of thanks to the corp comm geniuses at Nestle for doing the social media thing and showing everyone how not to do it.
Here’s what I learned:
If you are a gigantic food processing or agro-business –STFU. Seriously. You’re only asking for trouble. You want to defend high fructose corn syrup in moderation or the benefits of genetically modified grain? Go buy a congressman like the rest of your buds.
If you’re still not convinced that you are better staying out of the conversation, or somehow still feel the need to leverage this great new form of media, try fixing your Wikipedia page. See, not so easy is it? Once you master that community, you’re ready for twitter and a solid monitoring program. Got that box checked? Well then, by all means, go ahead and jump in people’s facebook streams. I love getting updates about sustainable palm oil refining next to updates from my sister-in-law. That’s sarcasm. Go slow and consider the community you are entering. Some places are best left unattended until you are ready.
I suspect Nestle would like to step away from Facebook, but of course, now its too late. Leaving would make them look weak and guilty. So now they must endure the slings and arrows of the great unwashed. Certainly Nestle has come to realize that no one can talk over an angry mob. Maybe now Nestle will listen.
Because that’s the thing: I’m not sure social media is so much about about letting go of your brand or even transparency. To me, it’s more about listening. Yes, listening effectively is often more expensive than running your yap. This is the trap of social media for so many businesses. They are so used to talking, and since that’s easier and less expensive than listening, “how hard can it be?” they ask themselves. Then they wind up blog fodder like Nestle.
Listening correctly, a business the size of Nestle can save millions of dollars in market research. By listening respectfully they could uncover the weaknesses in their oppositions’ arguments. If they listen deeply they might find a way to do well by doing good. It’s a myth that people hate big business. People hate dumb big businesses. Being dumb in social media is way more expensive than just being quiet.
In related news Ryan Seacrest learned the hard way about spoiler alerts on twitter
Dick Hardt explains digital identity.
So Sidewiki has a bunch of communication pros knickers in a twist but I, for one, do not see Sidewiki as cataclysm. Yes, its potential for abuse is barely enormous– but we’ve been here before and so far so good, honestly.
BTW- I’m certain that more than a few people will read this diatribe of moderation and spam my site to prove to me how bad it really is. So be it. I suspect that that time would be better spent on Halliburton’s site (which has NO sidewiki entries as of this writing), but that’s just me.
No longer can corporate leadership sit in a bubble and complain that they don’t know what the customer is thinking. Now It’s right on their website. How bad can that be? Senior leadership craves real input. There it is on their home page. Careful what you wish for.
1. For the love of all things holy: Get There first
2. Welcome constructive comments in sidewiki itself
3. Monitor continually
4. Report every abuse
5. Follow traditional crisis management fundamentals. Plan messaging in advance.
While Google Sidewiki may become a great place to slam brands, my sense is that it will bring way more good than harm. Fear of posting there will only lead to heartache. I saw many good companies thrown into utter (and completely unnecessary) chaos at entries on their Wikipedia page. Any digital communicator worth their salt can manage this. The good news is that you can effect what is said about you on Sidewiki. You can comment, refute, repair and address and redress any grievance. You can report abuse and you can vote about an entry’s relevance. Some have even suggested you can stuff the ballot box and push it down.
An old saying goes: “trust in God but tie your horses.” As with all things digital and social on corporate world, be TRANSPARENT. Everyone talks about trust. I think transparency comes first; and its harder. Like “word of mouth” or “viral”, trust is a result, not a tactic. Transparency is both the strategic and tactical means to an end called trust. Transparnecy makes verification easier.
It all boils down to this: the ability to ignore the haters, while listening to the critics. What likely scares all the communicators wringing their hands over Sidewiki is concern about their leadership understanding the difference. Nut up gang. Be active, vigilant and transparent on Google Sidewiki and you’ll find your fears dissipating and your social media confidence growing.
Sidewiki’s detractors should re-assess their concerns and have a swig of their own Kool aid. Control is gone– has been for years. Everyone whose written intelligently about Sidewiki–pro or con– knows this. Detractors must face the reality in the same way they’ve advised their clients about social media since the start. Yes, potential for abuse is high; but not any higher than Wikipedia. We managed that right? So lighten up. Let your communication team load-up the toolbar and get in the conversation. This is reality–it has been for years. With all apologies to the doomsayers, it may be the easiest most accessible form of social media yet. Close-talkers need social media love too.
Want more? check out this brilliant argument from Dan Rochman. He’s not very transparent, but his thinking is sound.
Whatever business you are in, you are also in the content business. There is a lot of competition in the content business.
Good stuff from Kate Niederhoffer, Ph.D and Mark A. Smith Ph.D
From The Harvard Business Blog
Fast prototyping is essential. Iterative approaches rule.
We’ve been talking about this with clients for over a year now. Rebecca Lieb over at ClickZ has a great piece on it today. An absolute MUST read. The big question: Can you deliver something USEFUL while avoiding the urge to overtly self-promote?
Should you fire your agency and hire more developers? It may be a bit premature to do so now, but consider the trends. The global economic slump is only hastening the move away from media buying and “classic” online advertising toward content creation and dissemination.
If you enjoyed the video earlier about marketing in an economic downturn here’s some more data to support John Quelch’s thesis that we need to segment by attitude rather than demography
by: Dick Stroud
The branding consultancy Clear (part of M&C Saatchi) has divided the way UK consumers are reacting to the recession into eight groups. The original article was published in Marketing Week – unfortunately it is subscriber only.
The most extreme group are those who are “cutting back”. These tend to be older females on a lower income and have changed their behaviour the most, compared with any other group.
Other consumers that are living more cautiously are joining the “life on hold” tribe. These people are staying in more and cutting out big-ticket purchases such as cars.
This group are generally in the 35 to 54 age bracket. Vauxhall’s “You pay we pay” redundancy marketing campaign is an example of a company responding to the fears of this group.
There is another group who are slightly less pessimistic frame of mind. The groups have been divided into those who are trading off, those who are trading down and those who have the occasional treats.
‘Easy’ is the key to disruptive innovation.