I recently had a fascinating conversation with social media thought leader Brian Solis, author of “ENGAGE! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.” A man who practices what he preaches, Brian has built his own brand in no small part because of his access to celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Katie Couric.
“We are trying to take an existing one-to-many approach and adapt it to a Mass Customization world and it just doesn’t work,” believes Brian. In no small part, the fundamental challenge and opportunity centers around the fact that social media is all about the “conversation” and that switches organizational communication from a one-to-many strategy to an opportunity for human touch, an opportunity to create relationships. That touch turns the cold message of the corporation into a human connection and the voice breathes life into every problem and every opportunity.
Brian tells people who shun social media that it is not responsible for the invention of conversation; all it has done is bring out into the open what people are already talking about. But the fear most executives have is that it will expose their cracks for all the world to see. That is certainly true.
An excerpt from the working draft of the book that tells the power of social media to move the world:
In a dark shadow with his voice altered to protect his identity the owner of the Twitter handle @BPGlobalPR told his ABC television interviewer the reason why he had taken on British Petroleum over its handling of the 2010 Deep Horizon Gulf oil spill.
“Well, I did it just as a reaction to the way BP was trying to spin things in the Gulf,” told the man who was spoofing BP and the world by tweeting highlights of crisis management missteps as if he worked for BP. “I felt they were trying to protect their brand more than they were trying to be proactive and honest about the situation down there.”
Josh Simpson, a 26-year-old Los Angeles comedian, was the man behind the farce that rocked BP and the world. Once the crisis cooled down he felt it was okay to reveal his identity. Gaining some celebrity in the process, Josh plans to continue using the handle but is switching what the BP means from British Petroleum to “Big Polluters.”
In Chapter Four I examine the drivers of speed in our modern mass customization-driven economy, social media, cloud computing and the millennial mindset. Researching these topics has been fascinating and fun. Next week I’ll share a millennial story that is right out of the movie Legally Blonde, thanks to Dr. Nicole Lipkin, author of “Y in the Workplace: Managing the ‘Me First’ Generation.