Woody Allen said 80 percent of success is showing up, but when it comes to establishing a meaningful presence on the social web, that figure may be closer to 100 percent.
There’s an opportunity here.
As much as I respect and admire the work of companies like Zappo’s, Comcast, Dell and Ford with respect to their use of social media in connecting with customers and all other types of people online and offline. I’ve often heard people grumble that they’re actually sick of always hearing from and about this list of usual suspects, not because they don’t learn from their experience and expertise — a quick Google search will show a whole lot of conversation around each of these brands, but because people are hungry for more.
I also don’t believe that anyone really wishes these companies weren’t present in the space, but what they’re really saying is they want a wider variety of voices, experiences and stories to draw from.
Official Is Not Always Social
Unfortunately, rather than opening up and sharing, I’ve heard a few people who organize conferences and events bemoan the lack of companies willing to let their social media teams speak about their work.
The disconnect here is that the social media and tech audiences aren’t interested in hearing sanitized positioning statements from an official spokesperson, and most companies have policies that prevent anyone BUT the official spokesperson from speaking on behalf of the company.
Even journalists in mainstream publications will often bury quotes in features on social media from the official spokesperson and instead lead with quotes from companies who allow those with their boots on the ground in the social media space to drive the story. Often times, the ones driving these stories are on the list of our beloved usual suspects.
Zappo’s, Comcast, Dell and Ford show up in a big way — they show up online every day and they show up at our events. They talk strategy, tactics and measurement. They mingle and answer questions. They commiserate with others working in the space. They’re our friends!
The real lesson these brands offer is that their social media teams show up and they teach us, they don’t just market to us. But, in the teaching and sharing, we become much more receptive and supportive of their marketing messages.
It’s not rocket science, but the ethos of the social web goes much deeper than the 140 characters in a single Tweet.
These brands win because we can count on them to show up and share: isn’t that exactly what it means to be social?
I understand the need to have official spokespeople in an organization – or only a few who can speak on behalf of the strategy and direction of the business. But can new boundaries be drawn a little differently?
The amount of spend continues to increase for social media budgets in 2010, but I can’t help but wonder how deeply some strategies will be able to penetrate a community that values sharing if companies aren’t willing to show up and invest a little skin in the game.
2010 presents a whole host of new opportunities. How are you planning to show up?
Note: I have a lot of admiration for the companies named here. This post is not intended to be a criticism, but my hope is to show that the positive examples they offer go beyond the landing pages, web-based media and Twitter updates. Several other companies are also doing a great job of showing up that aren’t named here and I did not mean to slight anyone.
Photo Credit: David Alston
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