Speak Stupid to Me

The thoughts and opinions seen here are mine and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of my employer, Ford Motor Company.

This is an Op Ed in response to “The Future of Media is Not About the Future of Media At All” by: Steve Parker in: Business2Community.com. Full link: http://www.business2community.com/trends-news/the-future-of-media-is-not-about-the-future-of-media-at-all-069308. Filed under categories OpBlogs.

I don’t know, Steve. Perhaps we could show Verizon a little solidarity when it comes to asking for “Thanks”. Since this is the time of year, or at least the pre-mature beginnings, during which we’re supposed to give thanks, I think it’s necessary to examine your statement in light of not only the holidays but the elemental levels of marketing and social media contained within. I’m going to take apart some concepts and services you touched on and re-assemble them in hopes that someone, somewhere will see the inherent flaw in your statement. (Besides the fact that I think it’s a #firstworldproblem.)

Communicating with your customers is a broad statement, so thanks for making a sweeping generalization and then reigning in social media as a prime example. For starters, and for my own clarification, you want to see/have Verizon maintain an online presence that has a division of it entirely devoted to customer appreciation. Be it, seasonal postcards with a 10% discount and a QR code on it, or a Verizon representative on Facebook telling their vocal customers “Thanks for your support, Bob!”, you flat out are ticked off because you pay a service to a company and they don’t acknowledge your… good customer status? For the sake of this blog, let’s assume I’m spot on. Let’s also acknowledge that while the pure engagement and curation affect of social media is in itself supposed to strengthen brand loyalty and image, saying thank you to every paying customer is not what is only meant by engagement. Saying Thanks is nice, but I would show far more brand patronage if they’re there for me in a time of need than a peaceful time of continuous bill paying.

OK, so we’re good on why you’re peeved, poor customer communication on social media sites. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Or, as I’m going to refer to it: why your point is flawed. Ready? Here we go: Not Every Company Will Find Consumer Engagement Tactics to be Necessary on Their Social Media Sites. Oh, and let’s not forget: Do you have any knowledge of the underpinnings of why they have chosen to refrain from that arena?

I’m glad you’re upset, Steve. Your comments start to chip away at what I’m coining as “The Sterility of Marketing in Two Dimensional Platforms as an Operative in the Over Expenditure of Resources”. Just as we have enough brand garbage, we too, will soon have enough social media garbage. Frankly, I’m glad they aren’t thanking you. If it’s thanks you want, find a different provider, if it’s a point you’re trying to make about the Future of Media, guess what- I think it’s a weak point. Here’s why.

1. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in groups. They’ll complain the loudest, receive faster response times than the smaller guys waiting patiently in line, and generally white wash the ROI data to reflect greater concern-resolution tactics than overall levying for positive engagement rhetoric.

2. Do we know the CBA for what Verizon might spend to assemble, train, and manage a team able to interact with the myriad of customers interacting on their B2C pages? I would love to be able to hop onto AT&T’s Facebook page (or if I was in Atlanta, @ComcastCares account) and tell them I’m a loyal supporter and longtime customer in need of receiving some acknowledgement. However, that’s not the brightest mentality to have. You chose to stick with Verizon, you choose to pay 4K per year for their services; I’m sure if the severity of an experience warranted it and you commented about it on a SM site, they would respond. But in dealing with a business, remember this is a business transaction. It’s not personal, it’s business. They are blatantly telling you their sites are basically comprised of free advertising. And guess what, you went there looking to feel appreciated. And maybe you were a bit let-down. Okay, a lot let-down. #FirstWorldProblem.

So while thousands of people are in the same boat as you, there simply may not be the resources to provide a custom Thank You or have a dedicated team of people interacting and providing humanistic touch for a massive telecommunications provider. The angry mobs will get help first and then on down the line. Let’s not water down social media with every Moe, Larry, and Curly to have a 1:1 conversation about the past six years they’ve grown with the company. You know it. They know it. I’m going to assume if a phone call is made to the Customer Support hotline, someone will acknowledge it. I, as I’m sure you do, also hope that one day a phone company changes its operating MO and functions more like the Virgin Atlantic of the wireless world. Unfortunately, I don’t think we should hold our breath.

3. The Anomalies: There are a lot of smart people that use social media sites to communicate with their favorite brands, brands they feel should improve, or wireless providers they feel should reciprocate the love. If those SM savvy folks all started reiterating the same unified message, I’m sure Verizon would listen. But they aren’t. Everyone has something different to say, 85 languages to say it in, and 365 days to say it. Now you want additional listening tools so they’ll gratify the thankful users? Are we really that needy? That in need of personal gratification? Social media will and is becoming so watered down by the mire of wants, needs, and demands, that soon the concept of transparency will cease to exist. The hopes and dreams of having it exist, squashed. Let’s identify the truly pertinent actions needed and tell those brands to back off and be thankful for their free advertising on sites originally designed to bring you, the user, your microphone.

You know what I’m thankful for? The ability for my communications providers to recognize that they are now sharing a medium once intended solely for me and I provide them with my much appreciated, occasional, feedback. I’ll keep my iPhone thanks reserved to the good graces of the late Steve Jobs and keep AT&T in my thoughts while I bask in the happiness of logging into Facebook on my phone, anywhere in the world, anytime of day, and not asking: Why don’t they thank me? But instead asking, how much longer can they afford not to?

[Social media is about being more personal, more real. Vibrant and alive. Expressing yourself in an unthinkable number of ways but yet, still retaining your identity. Communication is about connecting. Reaching one person or an audience, and giving a clear, concise message. So now, if you’re a person, brand, or company, and you want to communicate via social media, you’re supposed to find an image and convey a message lucidly, even though the magnitude of that task in social media still can’t be fully conceived and the abstractness has never before been so complex. There’s a lot of messages out in that cyber ether and I for one, love that anyone can speak stupid to me. Not just face to face, eye to eye, but from anywhere in the world on any topic they so choose. This will always be incredible. And I am forever grateful for the insight stupid words so frequently afford.]

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