Your Social Media Sucks…..and That Just Might Be Good Enough
Posted by DeanShaw
Recently, Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel) & Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) talked about their disappointment and frustration on the state of social media marketing. In The Depressing State of Social Media Marketing”, Mitch said companies were missing the opportunity to create real relationships with their audiences in favor of adding to the noise that exists on social channels. In “The Bare Truth About Social Media Marketing”, a shirtless and rakishly handsome Chris Brogan, lamented that brands are just being too mechanical and “chirping out blather to elicit responses or likes, but with no follow-up, no next steps, no actual business intent. Just… faux interaction.”
The truth is that they are both right.
With that, I guess I’m surprised that Mitch and Chris are surprised at the state of social media marketing. While it’s easy to look from the outside and say “Why are they doing this?”, “How come they are not doing that?”, “They should be doing a better job about this”. “They don’t get it”. The fact is you’re dealing with organizations, and organization have “friction“, lots and lots of friction. Friction is the thing that prevents companies from achieving the idealistic nirvana that from the outside seems simple, obvious, and necessary.
Some examples of corporate friction?
Should I go on?
OK, now let me tell you the dirty little secret here. First, let’s agree that the State of Social Media is not great. The reality is that you don’t have to be great to succeed – you just have to be better than the other guy. And the best part is that the other guy is as messed up as you are. See, we are all protected by our vast mediocrity. Is that awesome or what?
Friction. It exists. It’s real. And it’s never going away. We’ll always suck at social, we’ll always suck at website experience, and we’ll always suck building water pumps for cars I suppose. As long as you suck less than your competitor you’ll be just fine.
Having said all that, let’s be more optimistic. Let’s strive for a level of excellence that would make Mitch giddy and convince Chris to put his shirt back on. Let’s strive to be “frictionless” for a second!
I think the salient point in Mitch’s post is “What brands are missing, when it comes to social media is the true connection. The trust that is built out of real interactions between real human beings.” I would argue that building trust is not a “social media” thing, it’s a “corporate culture” thing. Building trust was not invented by social media, nor is it isolated to social media. Building trust is the experience I get when I’m in your store. It’s how you present yourself when I’m checking on for a flight. It’s how I am treated when I am communicating with you via social, email, phone, fax, letter, carrier pigeon, smoke signals. It’s what you do when my kid leaves his stuffed giraffe at your hotel. It’s how your products and services make me feel. It’s less about being perfect and more about how you treat me when things inevitably go imperfect.
Good corporate culture that focuses on customer service dictates that good connections are built through a consistent experience that is channel agnostic, and the fact is very few companies have mastered that – in fact, some bristle at the very thought of it (I’m looking at you Time Warner Cable). Social media is just another arrow in the ‘Building Trust’ quiver. Nothing more, nothing less. Social didn’t create the ability to build trust, it just added another channel in which to do it, or not do it.