Join ’em, have some pie, and release control…
Posted by crhunter
Reading Qualman this week, I began to think about big businesses and how they stay big. They adapt usually. I had heard of Viacom previously, but this week’s reading allowed me to really understand why giants stay giants, such as Viacom. Instead of fighting or resisting the changes social media brought to the world of business, Viacom chose to embrace it after realizing it was useless to attempt to beat social media and its power. It just wasn’t going to happen. I thought the shift from attempt to impose a “no” strategy to “let’s derive some benefit” really demonstrated a point: resistance is futile. Why waste time and money suing social media sites, such as YouTube and MySpace when one can turn around and devise a business plan to make some profit or gain some PR? Therefore, that is why Viacom will continue to be a giant.
I thought it was interesting that some companies have entered into this “world of yes” in terms of social media and allowed everyone to “play” while others refused to release control of the “ball” as Qualman would call it. Furthermore, I loved this line from Qualman, ” History repeats itself because no one listens the first time” (199). What a great way to put it! Then he provided the example of Associated Press, which took the resistant path as opposed to Viacom’s eventual path of least resistance. Because AP went into panic mode, refused to let others “play with its toys,” and became fixated on the failure of others, it most definitely did not embrace social media and the idea of working together for profit.
I thought the comparison of these two companies was a great demonstration of this point made by Qualman: “Companies that keep a level head will be fine and in some instances better off as their competition self-implodes” (201). Those that do stay calm will enjoy a piece of the pie (even if it is smaller at times); it is better than no pie at all.
Now, we see the majority of businesses embracing social media, or rather, using social media to propel business and involve the customer. I can’t help but think about the examples Qualman provided to show that “this is all about becoming part of the content and enhancing the user experience rather than an interruption model” (204). I thought the example of Green Mountain advertising that asked viewers to complete this line by texting their response and then waiting to see if theirs would appear as the line was ingenious as a business tactic. This type of advertising has customer appeal and a real-time pull-in effect. And the billboards by Mini-Cooper with the ability to read chips in
Mini-Coop cars and then welcome the driver by name to downtown Chicago–what a hoot! Who wouldn’t get a kick out of that one? These offer some powerful examples of embracing the changes technology and social media bring to the world of business and the way it can now offer an engaged experience.
Finally, I think Qualman was right here: “Also, part of being successful in the socialnomic world, as we have discussed, is for companies to be more open and comfortable in letting go of the ownership and control of their brand. It’s not going to be perfect every time, and the end user is smart–they understand that user generated content is beyond a brand’s control” (204).
Businesses and large companies that allow some of the control to be in the hands of its consumers and the use of social media are going to move forward. Allowing the users to see what is good and what is bad gives them the respect they want as consumers. The positive will outweigh the negative in the end, and if the businesses let the users alone to experience the ups and downs without trying to dictate their experience, then in the end, those users will stay with them. Otherwise, what Qualman notes will take over for the business: Fear of failure is crippling in the world of Socialnomics. Those who let the fear control their choices will inevitably lose the consumers, the pie, and control.
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