Engagement: “Are Social Media Better at Destroying Value than Creating it?”

The Harvard Business Review published a – rather strange, I must admit – article a few days ago: "Brands and the Dark Side of Social Media". In a nutshell: 

"Social media are making life difficult for mainstream marketers.
Insurgents use so-called "earned" media in place of paid
media, creating video ads passed from friend to friend that like to
target the imperfections of national brands and the excesses of mass
consumer culture. Parodies on YouTube have come to haunt companies.
Consider the audience drawn to Greenpeace's
targeting Nestle
over the destruction of rainforests to grow palm
oil, publicity over the
lawsuit that North Face brought
against the college student who
dreamed up the South Butt clothing line, and the tormenting of Toyota by
myriad amateur parodists." …

"So what is a big brand to do when it no longer controls its message,
when its complaint anthems are better known than its jingles?"

"Could it be, one shudders to think, that these media are better at
destroying value than creating it?"

The author ("John
is the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business
Administration at Harvard Business School and an authority on consumer
behavior and marketing, including direct and digital marketing.")
seems to be a marketing soldier from long gone Cold War times between brands, corporations, and consumers.

Social Media – or better: Social Networking – ends that war by declaring the consumer has won finally. And that brands may win, too! Social Networking may create Win-Win! situations if handled properly by the corporation.

By being impartial we must admit the world will be a 'better place', when Nestlé stops using the rainforest destructing palm oil. And Nestlé will become a 'better' brand by doing so. What is bad about that?

Social Networking does not destroy relevant value, it does not destroy 'positive' value. It just points a finger at brands and corporations, which are not up-to-date, which still have not understood how the world changed in the last few years.

Social Networking is a wake-up call for those brands and corporations, which have not understood the new independence, individuality, and impatience of consumers around the globe!

There is no "Dark Side of Social Media" – it is for the first time that corporations are able to hear the consumer's voice. Now it cannot be dumbed down by PR and advertising monologues any longer.

This may be frightening, but it is a good thing. Corporations just have to listen. Listen and understand. Understand and act. Act and strive.
And all brands trying from the heart to serve, protect, and empower the consumer will be winning this game. All brands who 'Plug.Play.Win-Win!' will be winning this game.

Finally John has a few tips – I would like to discuss:

01 – "… size now makes you vulnerable, not safe"

No. Not caring makes you vulnerable. Being indifferent, being profit-centered not customer-centered makes you vulnerable.

02 – "… think more about authenticity than how to position the

Yes. Just do not remotely manage and position the brand. Live it. Become a better brand. Learn from customers. Develop. Change. Inspire customers with your Brand Engagements.

03 – "… it is more fun to be an insurgent than an incumbent"

No. Do not "find an opponent bigger than yourself". Find a vision bigger than yourself. Give your corporation, every single employee, a vision worth fighting for.

04 – "… don't rule out … that social media just aren't for you"

No. Or are corporations convinced, that talking to the consumer is a bad thing, respecting the consumer is a waste of time, money and human resources? Are they convinced monologues are better than dialogues?
Tell me then, why do they develop, produce, and market all that stuff, if it ain't for the present and future wellbeing and wealth of their consumers?

Businesses will need a new perspective on Social Networking – and their business as
a holistic whole. They will have to learn, adopt and understand. Then Social Networking will create unbelievable value – for the consumer and the


15:01 hrs > "Unterschiedliche Strategien ausprobieren und vor allem wachsam sein, um
zu wissen, was da draußen los ist – nur dann kann man darauf reagieren
und damit umzugehen lernen:
"Life has become a lot more complex and difficult for marketers – but
there are numerous exciting opportunities."
, Connected Marketing.

June, 3rd

19:28 hrs > Wow, never imagined: nearly 10.000 views of my above post at socialmediatoday :) (June, 25th: smt experiencing troubles due to redesign)

2 thoughts on “Engagement: “Are Social Media Better at Destroying Value than Creating it?””

  1. I posted a similar discussion on my blog last week, which discussed the notion of reputation management is critical for social networking. I think this discussion is truly meaningful in light of what is happening in social media — its a force that you have to deal with whether you want to use it or not. If you care to see my comments on the topic, the direct link is: http://hausmanmarketresearch.org/85/building-your-reputation-a-crm-imperative/.

  2. Hi Angela, thx for sharing your post!
    I especially like:
    "The way to avoid negative word of mouth (whether online or off) is to
    strive to create positive customer experiences with every interaction. 
    This means firms must put processes in place to thwart service problems
    before they have a chance to reach the customer.  A firm must also have
    processes in place to handle the inevitable failures that do occur
    despite careful planning and execution of the process."

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