So I’ve read Cluetrain Manifesto for a Social Media and PR class and will now take to my blog to share some thoughts on my readings.
After debating between a few chapters I decided chapter two provided many poignant questions that has even the most social media savvy companies scratching their heads. David Weinberger starts the chapter by asking, “what is the web for,” and wisely answering his own question, “we don’t know”. At any given moment the web is for almost anything we the people decide it’s for. Internet traffic, energy, mood, and trends follow an organic often-unpredictable pattern leading us through all kinds of crazes and fads. It’s exciting and temporarily fulfilling but as Weinberger points out, always leads us to this feeling of longing.
Spiritual lure of the web
This longing is captured in what Weinberger describes as the “spiritual lure of the web”. I had never thought of the web in a spiritual context, but Weinberger is right. We crawl the internet all day and sometimes night looking for information, to be entertained, companionship, games, happiness. We’re looking for these spiritual experiences to satisfy our inner beings, and it begs the question, can companies even truly satisfy or give the remedy? I think most social media savvy companies have done a solid job in creating a space in which consumers can congregate, but the constant lure will always leave room for more to be done, for new things to be tried.
Companies try to fulfill this longing by exploring new social media avenues and trying to have conversations with their publics on these new avenues. Youtube channels, Instagram pages, twitter, Google+ all prompt audiences to find the answers to their questions, concerns, needs, and wishes “here” on the sites proverbial space. A great example comes from Dell. The Dell social media page starts with, “Join the Conversation” listing 13 different social media platforms on which customers can become part of Dell’s space. In addition to the 13 social media platform options Dell gives over 100 topics on which customers can join the conversation. From specific countries, to Dell products, and LinkedIn groups give users as many avenues to communicate as they could hope for. The various ways to connect and presented conversations to be apart of gives the tuned in customer an answer to the insatiable longing.
Having fun on twitter
Weinberger also points out the amount of risk companies assume when they attempt to discuss longing. Chapter two lists a few tips to maintaining an authentic balance that ideally will keep companies from appearing to outright market to consumers. From personal experience I can think of at least two companies that are trying way too hard when it comes to social media, which only aggravates our longing instead of satisfying it. I generally don’t follow any companies on twitter, but during my time following Dominoes pizza they sent frequent tweets about weekly specials and pictures of pizza. This took place after their employee crises and I suspect they were trying to rebuild trust and confidence in the brand. I just found it kind of annoying. I think companies like Taco Bell, Kit Kat, and Oreo have done well with satisfying our longing while still promoting their brand and products. These three companies use humor and increased fan engagement to push their names. So even though I’m seeing several tweets in which Kit Kat account is flirting with Oreo, I’m not annoyed, instead I just suddenly have craving for chocolate sweets. In using humor these companies have taken on a sizable risk. Some humor isn’t perceived well, and choosing a professional who is witty and conscious about their impact to the company must have been a crucial decision
I think a great deal can be said about Weinberger’s chapter on longing and social media’s part in addressing that longing. Twelve years later I still don’t think we can really explain what the web is for, but companies take a stab at it each day. In some ways chipping away at that longing