The article examines some key issues in social media marketing, including authenticity. It begins, however, by asking who inside organisations should be dealing with social media.
Futurist and media technology strategist Mark Pesce believes it’s everyone’s job.
“The strength of social media is that they empower individuals throughout an organisation to speak on behalf of that organisation,” he says. “Is this potentially confusing and chaotic? Yes. Get used to it. This is the way things work now.”
It goes on to look at how companies sometimes create fake online identities to say the things they want said.
At Nett we often say that building a following and credibility in social media takes time and hard work. You also need to be genuine, because audiences can spot a fake. However, there are a number of techniques one can use to push things along a little.
“Everyone does them, it’s just that no one will admit it,” says one new-media entrepreneur, who did not want to be identified.
One example was brought to a head recently when mUmBRELLA reported that Geoff Emerson, founder of marketing agency The Prosperity Principal, was looking to hire a social search consultant who would “take on a supplied persona and join in on the conversation” in social media to promote clients’ products. This concept of a ‘trusted avatar’ attracted a storm of controversy. (Emerson did not respond to our questions in time for our print deadline.)
Most of the experts we interviewed were dead against the idea.
“These practices make our relationships less trustworthy,” says David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.
“Eroding trust for personal gain is, in a word, evil. Oh, it’s not evil on the order of genocide or child abuse, but it turns our willingness to embrace others against us.”
“Under no circumstances,” says Pesce. “This is basically a fraudulent activity.”
The first key point is that it’s nonsense that “everyone” does it – people who steal from the cookie jar believe that others have the same ethics.
The second key point is that You Will Get Found Out, without question. Authenticity is no longer about how well you fake it. A transparent world is making what you do clearly visible to all.
The article finally looks at the practice of buying online “friends”.
Brisbane-based uSocial.net is one of only a few companies in the world that will admit to selling lists of followers on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which companies can then use to market to. (Founder Leon Hill also did not respond to our questions in time for deadline.)
Nett had to convince Pesce that people actually did this before he would respond.
“Money can’t buy you love,” he says.
“It can’t buy you friends, either. Simple as that. Connections predicated on cash are not the same as those drawn from the bonds of affinity. What you’ve got there is not a social network. It’s something else. That something else might still be useful – time will tell. But you’re not being sold a social network.”
Many more insights on how to engage (and how NOT to engage) in social media to build your business at SME Tech Summit!