Social Media is a funny thing. By "funny thing" I mean that it is sometimes very pathetic.
Few people are able to identify their own narcissism (I’ve Blogged about this before: Confessions Of A Narcissist), but it’s there and it exists. Being humble is the ability to not only identify your own narcissism, but being able to work with it. Narcissism isn’t inherently bad unless you let it get out of control. I’m reminded of the story that Jeffrey Gitomer often tells to an audience when discussing the power of closing a sale. He asks the audience this question: "in the middle of a business situation, who is the most important person in the room? You or your customer?" Naturally, most people say, "the customer!" Gitomer then goes on to ask: "if you and your customer are in a room and one of you has to drop dead, who do you want it to be?" It’s a funny line, but it illustrates my point: self-preservation over everything else (a little narcissism is a good thing).
If you’re telling people to be open and transparent in Social Media, shouldn’t you do the same?
I’ve seen multiple instances in Social Media recently that have led me to think about the saying: "practice what you preach." In the past little while there have been a handful of Digital Marketing professionals (who are super accusatory of brands and how transparent they are in Social Media) make the same move: they get a new gig and they spend multiple paragraphs Blogging about this great new opportunity (how thrilled they are to be joining such a world-class team, the people and clients they will be working with, how important of a step this is in their professional development, etc…). It’s all over their other online channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) with lots of bravado and chest-thumping.
Then, six to eighteen months later, the job didn’t work out, they’re no longer at the company, the word is out on the street, but there’s no mention of it anywhere in their online streams. Not a peep. Nada. It’s business as usual. When you think about it, it’s understandable. Who wants to now Blog or tweet about how it didn’t work out? How it wasn’t as great as they thought it might be and the experience certainly didn’t live up to the expectations set forward in those initial Blog posts and Facebook status updates. It’s difficult to be self-critical, isn’t it?
There’s a big Marketing lesson here.
Brands (and individuals) do control their messaging. They can decide how much personal information they want to integrate into their streams of content within the social channels. The challenge is that our human nature wants to know more and more personal information, so those that publish in that vein need to take caution with this. Because, in the end, if all you’re doing is promoting the good stuff and hiding the not-so-good, all authenticity is gone and – to make matters worse – your credibility is lost to. What looks worse: saying nothing about it (especially when everyone knows about the big change) or writing a Blog post about lessons learned, how you feel about it not working out and what you’re going to do about it next? It’s not an easy thing to do, but aren’t we constantly telling our clients how difficult Social Media can be?
If you’re constantly pushing brands to be open and transparent about the good, the bad and the ugly, shouldn’t you be held to the same high standard?