My friend Jeremiah has been on a tear with valuable content lately. He's really coming of age now that he's this big mucky muck over at Forrester Research. He's been asking a lot of people a lot of things about brands and communities marketing and social networks.
He's provided a lot of really interesting insights. I'm sorry he has not asked me, but I'll probably spend some time telling him tonight when we have dinner together--whether he asks me or not.
I think his perspective is moving away from some of the fundamentals that make social media different and superior to traditional branding campaigns and marketing. When he asks such questions as "who owns a community" or should brands Twitter, he's revealing that he may be getting a bit too snug with clients. When you begin seeing the world through the perspective those clients have, there's a danger you'll lose you greatest value, the value of turning that perspective inside out.
The essence of social media is that it is humans. Humans connect to humans and they form communities. They own their communities, brands don't. The perspective of traditional marketing is to take a message and find delivery channels to inseminate into people's foreheads. This is not social. Social is for a marketing executive to start a blog and ask people why they hate his marketing efforts--then listen--really listen to what people say the way Dell has done and a few others are trying to do.
Brands don't Twitter. People Twitter. And if I follow someone on Twitter and it turns out I like and trust that person, then I may feel better about the brands he represents. Can brands be social? Of course not. Brands are inanimate intangible things. They are contrivances intended to make you feel some sort of emotion about a company or it's icons. That is not a social thing.
Whether his clients like those messages or not, they are the truth and to try to chip away at the truth is an unfortunate exercise even when it is well intentioned.
At least that's the sort of stuff I will tell me good friend Jeremiah at dinner tonight. It should make for an interesting conversation.