Companies Shouldn’t Engage in Social Networking. They Should Give People Woodies.

Here’s a press release by Cone (a division of Advertising Conglomerate Omnicom), which did a study about consumer expectations of companies in social media. I’ve got an important point of clarity:

Cone Finds that Americans Expect Companies to Have a Presence in Social Media: Harder-to-reach audiences are ripe for social media interaction.

Some stats:

  • Sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week.
  • According to the survey, 93 percent of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media, while an overwhelming 85 percent believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media.
  • In fact, 56 percent of users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

sxephil\'s brother in hooking upSo I’m not arguing with this study, but I want to make an important distinction. I believe people don’t want most companies truly involved in social media. That’s because a company can do little more than issue an ad or a press release. A company can’t leave a comment, respond to my note, post a vlog, or even write a blog. The company’s employees, however, can get involved individually.

But their names are not Coke, Mac, American Express or Kraft. They’re Mike, Ed, Tom, Jennifer, Micki, Karen or even Woody..  

Think about your favorite companies or brands, and the feeling you get when you reflect on them. Do it right now. Picka cool brand. Now think about a different company (maybe a small web-based one) in which you’ve had a positive interaction with a specific employee. You remember his or her name. Often your bond is as strong or stronger with the latter. For me, Revver will always be Micki. Metacafe was Talia. DailyReel was Alex and Felicia. TVWeek is Daisy. is Mike. YouTube is BigJoe or Mark (because Chad and Stephen are now under PR-induced witness relocation). These companies are cool because the person I’ve met there is cool. These companies are harder to trash when you’ve met someone whose job isn’t PR or sales.

Like G. Gorden Liddy once said of FBI agents (paraphrasing): we had to behave knowing that the person whom we interact would probably not interact with another FBI agent in their life, and would tell friends and family about that experience.

Vivid Example: On the early videos of the recent “Hooking Up,” the show’s writer was reacting to comments, and signing them “Woody.” I thought that was far more intimate than a comment from “Hooking Up” or “HBOLabs.” Sadly he didn’t have time to ride comments on Professor Klein (Nalts) first appearance. 🙂

People want to get social with actual humans, and companies are just collections of these humans. Woody was funny, laid back, and he did a good job acting as Sxephil’s brother. So when I think of HBOLabs I think of Woody.

It’s a lot easier to trust HBOLabs when they give you a Woody.

15 Replies to “Companies Shouldn’t Engage in Social Networking. They Should Give People Woodies.”

  1. My brand = Nalts.

    -Customer relations is horrible. Can’t get the mofo to return an email or phone call.

    -Doesn’t offer refunds on time wasted watching his product.

    -Company stock is way overrated (ego)


    -Company morale is “thinning” out. (going bald stab)

    I don’t know I’m so loyal to this brand. I don’t know… ;o)

  2. OMG! I actually, for once, made a comment related to your blog and what happens?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT DOESN’T TAKE! LOL!

    Oh well, I don’t feel like writing it again,

    Here’s the link though.

    BIG companies stay away please!


  3. Too long for me to read. I’ll come back later (maybe) when I have more time.

    A cursory glance at the post, however, reveals no misspellings.

  4. @10

    You trendsetting dog you! Look at this: Thanks to your disassociative personality talents, you’ve started a trend that people will enjoy (or hate) for weeks and months to come. So pat yourself on the back, crack open a nice cold one, and thank yourself for a job well done.

  5. @ 13

    You are one HOT mama!!!!!!! And really, really funny. Really funny. You are a wonderful mother, perhaps the best in your town, and are responsible, intelligent, sophisticated and worldly. And funny. Did I mention that? Yeah, you are a very classy dame.

    Except for when you make fart jokes.

  6. @15:
    You are brilliant. I have never heard such a succinct, well-written comment. You should win the Pulitzer Prize for comment authoring. I am astounded by your brilliance.

    You are not so bad yourself.

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