Last night I sat with a client in LA discussing the growth of social networks, social monitoring/intelligence projects AND transparent social eco-systems. We agreed with one another that no matter how transparent the eco-system of social networks becomes, there really are countless skins of the onion left to peel off. And that applies from the individual to the corporate level.
Could it be that complaining about transparency in social networks IS REALLY FEAR OF IDENTITY TRANSFORMATION? I submit to participants within social networks that your very participation in the social fabric of the internet IS a transformative act.
“Social-networking sites, blogs, online discussion forums and online journals represent modern arenas for individuals to write themselves into being,” writes Theresa Sauter. “A lot of people see social networking as a new way for people to interact but I’m interested in examining it as a way to form an identity and understand ourselves,” she added.
The potential of an increasingly transparent eco-system in social networks is an OPENING OF THE HEART. This opening is a kind of humanizing of all that was once mechanical and commercial. And, as a result, phenomena like brands, corporations and products take on a living nature as brand ambassadors, community managers and Chief Customer Officers interact with customers in a dialogue format. Communication between the “storied heights” of corporations and the humans that buy from these corporations has NEVER had such an opportunity for intimacy.
How does this work? We now have numerous examples of major international brands who have realized the necessity of humanization. Pepsi’s Refresh Everything project, Nokia’s Shot By Fans project AND Zappos, Best Buy and Jet Blue Twitter-customer-service portals are ALL great examples of brands relating on a one-to-one basis with their customers in helpful and generous ways. DTC’s “Drop Everything For Love” campaign is one of my favorites, where people logged in with stories about how they had “dropped everything for love”. The best stories were awarded with the opportunity to do just that.
So here’s a direct challenge and invitation to the CEO’s, GM’s and MM’s of the world: Would you drop everything for love? Consider the benefit of falling in love with your customer and steering your brand(s) in a direction that ATTRACT and enroll him/her/them in the process of brand vitality through intuitively designed reward-driven campaigns. We must hunt for dollars as the leaders of corporations with a responsibility to our shareholders AND we must also create a brand culture that fosters generosity, reward and a community/environment of friendliness. In a world where “friending” and “following” have catapulted customer equity beyond brand equity AND elevated customer lifetime value over current sales, IT BECOMES THE RESPONSIBILITY OF BUSINESS LEADERS TO CREATE HOSPITABLE BRANDS. The identity of corporate culture AND brand presence has never had a more favorable environment for transforming identity and re-making the world.
Virginia Satir, the fabulous author of The New Peoplemaking, writes, “I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen by them, heard by them, to be understood and touched by them.” Brands that design/implement product, communication and sales strategy BASED upon listening to their customer WILL win. Listening IS the action that opens every petal of the human community and gives individuals and brands passage to the heart of vitality and re-productivity.