Shel Israel had a post (Global Neighbourhoods: Can Brands be social?) a couple days ago that i’m just following up on. I’ve not read his blog before, but i’ve seen him referenced before. Plus, he’s literally written the book on social marketing. So, i was a little surprised to see the fundamentalist mindset about brands and social media. I get the sort-of syllogism:
- All social media is created by and for humans
- Bands are not humans
- Therefore, social media should not be "done" by brands
Ok, so it’s a gross simplification, but that’s essentially the point. And, i get it: "Nike" the company twittering is a dumb thing. But what about having a Nike-sponsored athlete twittering, with those tweets showing up at a Nike sponsored/managed site? That feels better, right?
Let’s not get hung up on the semantics of what a brand is. Shel’s right, brands are, at their inception, a contrivance, a shorthand, a badge, a symbol to represent the experience the product delivers in the absence of the experience itself. But, clearly the world is changing really fast. With social media, web, ubiquitous pervasive computing, brands will more and more frequently be able to deliver their experience (either the experience itself or an online fascimile) around the clock, to anywhere in the world. Social Media will be critical for those of us who have brands, care about those who trust our brands enough to (literally or figuratively) buy them. These tools will be critical as we try to humanize our brands without being manipulative. i believe it can be done, i’m seeing it get done, and i think it’s critical for guys like Jeremiah to see this question through my eyes, the eyes of the brand guy trying not to be a human, not merely a marketer.