- An Article for the DMI Newspaper – November 2011
Back in 2000 I remember giving lectures about the fact that businesses need to get on to the Internet. “If you don’t, you will die” was the rough mantra that we used.
The logical argument being used was that within fractions of a year, billions of people would be online and you would be swept aside by a wave of dotcom start-ups that would eat you for breakfast. You needed to be fast, lean, agile and responsive.
Those were the days!
Now the word dotcom does not even cause my spelling checker to redline and complain about typos. It doesn’t even auto-correct it to Dot Com (although it doesn’t like DotCom).
Now I sit in audiences listening to the prophets of Social Media talk about the fact that within fractions of a year, billions of people will connect through social media and you need to engage or get swept aside….blah..blah..blah (you get the point).
This time it’s a little different, however. I would strongly encourage everyone to hold his or her breath and wait.
Last time I checked companies weren’t humans. Humans work for companies and they have their own separate legal identity BUT it is not human. It may have humans that are on their logo or in their advertisements BUT it is not a human.
Given that it is not human, it cannot be my friend on Facebook. It cannot like me. And it cannot follow me.
So how can it possibly be social?
Furthermore, the law makes it REALLY difficult for companies to relate to people. They have to be “compliant” – which means that almost everything they say and everything they do can open them up to being sued.
And finally, and most substantially it’s tough for companies to be sociable because many consumers are not. The massive growth of consumerism has also unleashed a lot of people who are simultaneously stupid and angry.
Now they have a voice, social media. If you engage with these people, you won’t make them happy, they can’t be brought back form the dark side. They like to be angry.
At Consumer Intelligence, we run consumer panels and we interact with thousands of consumer every week, 99.9% of them are happy, have a genuine issue that can be resolved or are asleep. 0.01% of them are just plain old angry and incapable of placation. They accuse us of all sorts of things we haven’t done and, indeed, cannot have done.
Yes we are social, and yes I understand how consumers connect with each other. BUT if I ever tell you that you need to go social now, because it’s the next big thing then ignore me.