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Random Social Thoughts

It might not have been an “eventful” period since my last entry, but there are definitely a lot of things going on in the social media world—enough that I’ve been having some trouble narrowing down my thoughts to one topic. As such, I’ll touch on a number of different things, part-linkdump, part commentary.

More social media guidelines. I’m glad to see that Intel isn’t the only big company getting serious enough about social media engagement to codify its approach (see my previous post here). A recent post on FastForward Blog notes similar efforts by IBM, Sun, and RightNow. Thing 1: The FastForward writer says he was told RightNow’s guidelines were partly shaped by what Intel, IBM, and Sun had set down. Does this mean there’s already a second (or third, or 12th) generation of such corporate policies floating around for the public to see? I hope so. Thing 2: Oracle acquired Sun in April, after failing to reach terms with IBM. I wonder how the acquisition will affect Sun’s social policy, or for that matter Oracle’s.

A man and his brand. Last month (sorry, didn’t see it until a few days ago) filmmaker/author/Jersey boy Kevin Smith did some heavy Q&A for readers of Decider before a live appearance. You can read it here. (NSFW if you’re not allowed to read profanity, or if a guy who answers questions while smoked up is against company policy. I pity those who fit this description.) Say what you want about Kevin Smith (I dig him), this is a guy who really understands himself, his audience, and his industry. He understands it better than major studios who think viral marketing can be made to order and posted to the MySpace and put into the YouTubes. This is a successful creator who knows where he’s from, and what created his fan following, and stays in touch with it without pandering to it. His answer to the third question sums it up well:

Many celebrities seem to guard every shed of privacy they can get their hands on, yet you have always been a very accessible public figure. With a SModcast, a blog, your Evenings With series, and a Twitter, your life seems to be an open book. What drives you to let people into your life in such an intimate way?

I don’t know any other way to be, really. Once media was created that allowed a dialogue to open between filmmakers and audience, there was no way I couldn’t embrace it. This is a communications medium, film. We do this to get a reaction and hear what people have to say about our work. It’s enormously flattering when someone (or lots of someones) are interested in you enough as an artist to wanna know about your life and opinions beyond the actual work that brought you to their attention in the first place. […]

Kevin Smith is his own successful brand, and he got that way by never trying to be a brand, or be anything other than what he is: a comic-book fan, a regular guy, a sarcastic observer of what he grew up around. I’m not saying that a manufacturer of backed abrasives can have the same ease in relating to its customers, but it’s an ideal to consider whenever social CRM is on the table.

A duel of trust. As our online relationships become broader and more diffuse, we’re starting to ask who we can trust. It’s not surprising that surveys are being conducted on just that topic, nor is it surprising that different sources are getting different answers. The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey (via Adweek) says trust of consumer reviews and opinions—other than those of personally-known individuals—is at 70 percent. The Razorfish Social Influence Marketing Report, however, says there is “strong to complete distrust” of anonymous consumer reviews, and only about 33 percent trust of online friends’ recommendations. That’s an awfully wide chasm to bridge. To be fair, though, in the Razorfish report 86 percent of respondents say that “whom they trust is dependent on the type of product.” I don’t imagine a war between these opposing points of view, but trust is an important issue that we need to make sure stays current. I’d say it’s more important to figure out what creates trust than to identify its strongest locii, but that route opens the possibility of manipulating trust—something businesses are often all too willing to try. See this New York Times column by Bob Herbert for an idea of what I mean.

Update 1: Shortly after writing this, I came across the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer. (PDF link.) It’s a bit more general than the two above, but still quite valuable. Thanks to Prem Kumar Aparanji (@prem_k) and Josh Weinberger (@kitson) for the tip.

Update 2: Also shortly after writing this, I realized I’d left out my take on the United Airlines broken guitar saga. I’ll save that for my next post.

That’s all for now. Keep an ear open for the next podcast of Paul Greenberg and Brent Leary as the CRM Playaz. It’s coming soon, and these two are always on point and entertaining. No link yet, but Paul’s pretty reliable about putting linkage on his ZDNet blog.