There are many who see commercial companies and their PR reconnaissance staff as a bad thing for the web. Coming online and whoring various crappy products and services. Influencing bloggers by buying them a few drinks. Silencing critics by giving them a few freebies. I don’t agree. I see commercial companies joining the online space as a good thing but maybe not for them if they want to keep their comfortable status quo. The more the web is about everyone, the better. We need a realistic cross-section online like we have offline.
Blogs, Facebook, Twitter are a cult and we have the opportunity to brainwash so many companies into becoming truly open sourced in terms of IP and of attitude. Social media is infectious. Get close to it enough times and you’re a convert. A company will start blogging and Twittering and infecting itself despite all their internal rules. This social media cancer will come in and bit by bit will replace the rules based and rules drive old school attitudes with the idea that sharing is fun. All of a sudden the CEO is blogging and having conversations with other CEOs and all done in public. Customer support is done in public, metrics are shared in public. Look at the Conservatives’ website where they now share expense claims live on the web.You can even subscribe to them!
Photo owned by chrisdlugosz (cc)
Look at how the best cults work. They are open to new members, they welcome them and nurture them while introducing their beliefs and livestyles and all of a sudden you have a convert. Then you get the convert to convert people.
So if you’re a company with bad customer service and you expect that to continue, that does not want to hear what people are saying about you and wants to dictate to the public, not have the public help run your organisation, then stay away from the web, it’ll kill you. Block Facebook, block blogs and especially block Twitter. All it takes is one person in your org to get converted and the illusionary walls you created for your fortress company will come tumbling down. Koolaid anyone?
Excellent post, I am trying to infect my company slowly but surely from the inside!
Reminds me of Jonah Peretti’s idea to emulate the Mormons rather than the Jews. Accept everyone. Preclude noone. Take over the world.
I guess if the PR folk are whoring (nice word) products and buying drinks left right and centre, it just means they’re business as usual online as well as offline which just goes to show that the web is mainstream. Years ago when I started in this business, people were threatened and/or over exuberant that the web would replace the traditional media, it won’t, it compliments it, it’s another channel. The companies that ignore online conversations also ignore offline feedback and have been doing so long before the www. We could all name that infamous Irish company that prides itself in literally scrunching up unread letters of complaint and throwing them into overflowing bins, maybe even a prize for the biggest pile:) However, at risk of sounding flippant about the recession, hopefully it’ll mean that non user-centric companies will have to try a little harder to keep their custom and that’s a win-win for consumers everywhere.
Joy redmond – I’m not sure which Irish company you mean, I’ve dealt with a multitude who seem to have that attitude (not naming names here). And it has to be said there are also many who take pride in their service.
Interesting post, Damien. Strikes me that many brands and companies hear buzz words and want to be involved without understanding why or what they want to say or how they want to say it. So, the medium becomes the message. Many marketers don’t even have access to social networking sites during the working day, so don’t even use the tools being used by consumers. Onus on agencies to really live and breathe online to make proper recommendations to clients. However, clients have to been doing the basic things right and have a quality product before they jump in. On that note, think the Carlsberg campaign (and, no, we’re not working on it) around the CatLaughs festival and the launch of the CatNav announced yesterday is a well thought through campaign.
Am I missing where the Conservatives’ expenses are published?
If they really want to get some positive PR from the current mess, they should have the expenses feed displayed on the home page.
@Stephen Forgot the link, now fixed!
Nice blogpost Damien – it really made me think about how much the online world has changed so much in the last 10 years. When we started off it was unheard of to advertise jobs or apply to them online, we were almost ridiculed for thinking the “Interweb” would take off and here we are today.
I think an important point which you made is companies should use the media that are most relevant and not just blanket using all social media because its “cool” or “the thing to do”, not everything is going to work for everyone and some companies just don’t realise that yet.