Social Media Implications, Cultural Anthropology and Technology

When I think about implications I look through the lens of a media gal. That’s how I grew up in the business. Social media is a channel. Perhaps it’s a bigger microphone? I think it is tied to a lot of offline behavior as well as online experiences.

Consider this: I wait for a reservation at a hot new restaurant. My friends and I all Facebook each other to coordinate plans for the dinner. We plan. Our friends “like” our status and comment saying to let them know how it was or that they wish they could get in. When we finally get together that night we take pictures as we always do with our iPhones and upload them to Facebook. We tag each other. Then the server pays no attention to us. The food doesn’t come out on time. Mine is undercooked. I politely send it back. The server begrudgingly takes it. One of my friends already posts on Facebook. Skip to the next scene, the night got worse and we decide to go to a bar to meet more friends. When we get there we tell them about our less-than-favorable experience. Then we post a rant on Yelp for all to see.

Herein lies the bad offline experience with the online and social media virality. It spreads like a firestorm and there’s no going back. This happens today. It happens all the time. It has become a way of life for many including me. There are huge implications.

In fact, in an Altimeter Research study a while back, most companies surveyed said they lack a formalized process –and even out of the advanced, only 76% had a process in place.

The way I see it too many brands think about a social media strategy with their defensive guard up. They ask themselves “what if” someone says something bad. What if it spreads and cross-pollinates to other platforms. Will it have a shelf life? How can I be prepared to defend my brand?

Truth is, the best social media is offensive? It’s open-ended and two-way. It is a bigger microphone and maybe it amplifies. Don’t let it break the sound barrier. Have a conversation. Create a dialogue. Temper the rant. Respond as quickly as you can; figure out a way to do it. Maybe bring it over to email or provide a phone number where they can call customer service. Listen. Listen and listen more. Try and turn it around. Ask for a second chance. It may not always work, but the effort is authentic, and others see how they are treated as your customer.

Kimberly Whitler wrote an article for She brings awareness to the fact that many CMOs make some pretty big social media mistakes. She defines them as: 1) failure to understand how social media links to the broader business strategies, 2) failure to develop a really strong content plan, and 3) failure to seed a discussion and instead focusing solely on self-promotion.

In social it’s almost be-careful-what-you-wish-for. You want to grow a fan base, build a community, and have a constant flow of communication outbound and inbound. Did you ever think beyond that? What if you really do get an army full of fans or a gaggle of likes and a buzz of tweets and retweets? Or maybe your brand gets tagged and pinned all over. What next? What’s the new new? That to me is the biggest implication.

It loops off of technology. A brand needs a way to monitor conversations and track sentiment. It also needs a way to efficiently steward messaging. However, it is not a pure-technology play. There needs to be a tone, some solid writing and some feeling of authenticity. Good communication is not an auto response.

Social anthropology shows us that ranting and raving in the socialsphere is more mainstream than not. Heck, just think of the Facebook user base of over a billion active people. It’s as big as a large country. People have something to say and believe that they should be able to say it.

Millennials who grew up with technology throw just about everything out to the digital and mobile world. Quite frankly much of this demographic feels more comfortable online than off. They like to toggle between online identities to anonymity. Often they script, story tell and gossip as a mere handle not a person. Strong brands know this and see past it. They embrace it and don’t slow down.

Back to baiting the hook