Last night was quite the experience. More communicators than you could shake a stick at gathered in the Pour House to listen to the very erudite, and very funny, Shel Israel and his straight man for the night, Mark Evans.
Both of our hosts did a great job of tuning out the very loud i-bankers who had positioned themselves in the section behind us and were determined to out shout the sound system that the Thornley Fallis crew had installed.
Third Tuesday was set to first promote, and then cement, PR’s leadership role in bringing social media to the corporations we serve but, as Mark noted last night, we’re not doing a great job so far and Canadian corporations are lagging behind their US counterparts in terms of their adoption of social media. But events like this will, hopefully, serve to bring the evangelists together with the non-believers and even the people living in blissful ignorance. Which can only be a good thing.
One question that I wanted to ask last night, but couldn’t find the words to during the Q&A was this.
Is the rate of adoption, by the general population, a barrier to entry for the corporation? Customers are now so used to shouting, as opposed to talking, that companies can justify ignoring them as zealots or trolls.
People look at Jeff “Dell Hell” Jarvis or Neville “post on every customer service interaction” Hobson and think that if they stir up some trouble they can get the sort of readership that Jeff and Neville have built up. It’s in their, perceived, best interests to shout and scream at a company for every perceived slight.
How should companies deal with this? I think we all believe that they should join the conversation but I bet SVPs of marketing across the Fortune 500 feel as if they’re about to be thrown to a braying pack of lions whenever their PR agency suggests an external blog.
Sidebar – Do lions bray? The simile wouldn’t be quite as effective if it were donkeys…
If this is correct, what onus does this put on the agency? How can we make the process of joining the conversation as easy, as pleasant and as rewarding as we’ve all found it? We recommend a social media strategy and the client points to Dell’s blog and the reaction that it got.
At the moment, our (the agency’s) best way to sell a new way of thinking is to say ‘why don’t you take on this expensive and time consuming commitment? It’ll be very rewarding and it will create a better bond with your customer base but you will get absolutely hammered for a few weeks by people whose best interests are served by being as malicious towards you as possible.” Who couldn’t sign off on that line item?
I guess we need to start small, do great work for the clients who see the value in it and then go from there. Start monitoring and reporting what’s being said about our clients as a value add and then get them to start talking, offline, with their new audience. When the time’s right our clients will see the only thing holding them back is our combined imagination.
The Author with Micheal Seaton (below).
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