The Psychology of Business in Social Media: A Thesis on Fitting a Square Peg into a Round Hole

Posted: June 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

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Synopsis: Corporations and social media go together like BP and environmental protection. My goal is to shine a light on obstacles encountered by corporations when entering a social media jungle. By understanding these obstacles, some corporations may be able to nurture a social-media-friendly disposition and reap the benefits; but only if they are willing to fundamentally alter the way they think about doing business.

Part 1: You Can’t Trust the Experts

If you were to listen to experts in Social Media (SM), you might think that SM is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Alas, it’s simply a new hammer hitting the same old nail. The problem is that corporations are entirely clueless when it comes to being social.

If you need any proof that experts can’t be trusted, think back to 2006 when Real Estate experts were telling us that we would be crazy not to buy a house now. Only to have the Real Estate market implode the next day.

Back in 2000, we were told that the internet bubble will never burst. It did.

Didn’t BP experts tell us that the offshore oil rigs are safe?

Unfortunately, there are all too many examples of “experts” feeding us falsities. I only call them “falsities” and not “lies” because I think that most of them truly believe what they are saying. In Psychological parlance, we call this Self-Deception. 

Social Media experts are no different.

The “experts” have their own interests to advance. Their careers and livelihoods hinge on their beliefs that SM is the way to go. Of course, they don’t have to sell us (individuals) on this notion because we are not buying. Individuals are already engaged in Social Media of their own volition.

Corporations on the other hand, are clueless, scared AND buying.


Corporations don’t know how to be social. This is the obstacle they need to overcome.

Hiring someone to be social on your behalf (which is what corps do when they approach SM experts) is like sending someone else to your own birthday party. Might be a cost effective time saver, but it’s NOT social.

So the experts “train” corporations how to be social. But there is a problem.

Now corps do show up to their own birthday party but they still act like snake-oil salesmen, nostrum pushers, and used-car dealers. Handing our business cards, getting sloppy-drunk, feeling-up the waitress, and just being lame.

The problem in real life is that it’s hard to avoid that guy. He’s in your face. He’s in the same room as you. He follows you wherever you go.

Online however, that guy is all too easy to ignore.

Why would anyone listen to a sales-pitch that is masquerading itself as a social effort by some giant conglomerate?

There are just too many talented, passionate, genuine people engaged in Social Media that any hint of corporate douchebaggery will cause me to vomit in my mouth, click “ignore” and keep it moving.

No amount of expertise can change this. But corporations can change their ways if they want to and reap the benefits of Social Media. How?

Stay tuned.

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