Social Media: What's the Point?

In reading Peter Kim's post on "Social Media Predictions 2009", it was interesting to read some similar points to things I said here almost two weeks ago.  It means either I'm reading things correctly or the Social Media guys are making the same mistakes that I'm making in my analysis.

After all of that, I realized that there's still a fundamental disconnect in what companies think and how reality works…

I've worked with numerous companies on their [choose one: blogging, Twitter, social media, Facebook, etc] strategy.  Many of them still believe that [choice from above] is supposed to be used predominantly to share press releases.  More interestingly, the effort is led by the marketing team with oversight from the legal department.

First of all, you don't get [choice from above] entries. You get "content" or "copy".  You get things that have been scrubbed through marketing and legal and offer nothing of value to the outside world.

Next, you don't get something that sounds informal.  You don't get something that reflects the "proper tone" of the company.  Something is always and completely "on message" and doesn't question the company line… or even apply a bit of honesty to its own products, operations, etc.  While this may work in some backwards planet where we all speak marketing, it doesn't work in the real world.

Finally, you don't get anything that is remotely time-senstive.  No matter how fast the organization tries to move and respond to current events, the layers of bureaucracy ensure that nothing useful gets out the door.

In my [choice from above] efforts with companies, I have a simple metric for effectiveness:

Does the competition have to read it to keep up?  If so, you win.

That's all it boils down to. If your competitors are reading you and passing along and using those ideas with their customers, the customers don't need your competitor.  Before you know it, the customers are going to come your way… and more interestingly, your competitor's staff will take notice..

With the new effort we're putting into Blue Parabola, LLC, we're moving in that route.  We're not sharing the secret sauce in how we do everyhing, but we are sharing some tips and tricks that we're doing along the way.  Do all of our competitors read it?  Not a chance, but there are already a few of them…