I’m going to divert a little today and share a bit of personal philosophy with you – a theory, if you will, that’s been percolating for a while over here at SMG.
Most of us involved in the social media space are (hopefully) aware of what I’ve started calling the “authenticity requirement”. If the blogosphere is a conversation, and conversations are only satisfying and meaningful if they’re authentic, then you can’t form a true relationship with someone who isn’t all there when you talk to them. No one wants to connect with the slippery sales guy who’s got a hidden agenda that has mostly to do with his own requirements. They want to deal with the associate who cares about their business, asks how they’re doing, tells them what they need to know and makes recommendations based on what’s best – not quota. And if you’re in sales, you know which of the two has higher numbers.
So basically, it’s honesty, integrity and being up-front. If there’s a problem, the slippery sales guy will pass the buck (and probably get himself in far deeper than if he’d just dealt with things properly), whereas the associate will listen, address concerns and accept responsibility if that’s appropriate – and then make it better.
My point is that social media (blogs in particular) need to communicate in the same way. A corporate blog will fail if it’s the slippery sales guy model (press releases and an indeterminate comment moderation queue wait-time) whereas if it is the associate, it will thrive (honest dialogue, facing issues head-on with integrity, saying sorry when you should), as will the company, because they’re really taking the time to engage with their market. And the market likes that – there’s nothing more flattering than being listened to (I think Dr. Joyce Brothers said that).
I guess my point is this – here at SMG (and I lead by example in this) we strive to be the associate. The honest, up-front tell-it-like-it-is partner to our clients. I have actually had occasions on which I have told clients that they need to slave part of a budget earmarked for our work to another supplier in order to really create a project that will have legs and cost them less in the long run.
Foolish? I don’t think so. I call it authenticity.