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How transparent is your business?
How companies need to adapt to survive the revolution
January, 2011

Social media is revolutionizing the way we communicate and to my idea it will seriously diminish privacy, both personal and for companies. As people are slowly learning to restrain themselves on social media sites, companies will have to accept that in the near future all their actions will be totally visible to the whole world, with serious consequences.

We have seen in the last century that the technological development is increasing ever faster. The development from train to car to airplane to moon rockets is a good example. This same increased development is happening in communication. Where you would maybe be able to write a complaint letter to your local or even national newspaper a couple of decennia ago, you can now directly reach the whole world with your complaint. Even better, people with the same grudge are able to connect fast and efficient, often forming large groups complaining about a faulty product or a negative action from a company within days.

Examples are Proctor and Gamble's new Pamper that gave a rash or Nestlé being involved in destruction of the rain forest. My favorite is still "United breaks guitars" the action of Dave Carroll, a Canadian singer who went to YouTube to complaint about the fact that United broke his guitar and never reimbursed him. (See
Case study) His video spread like wild fire and within a week United apologized and paid up.

The ongoing revolution in technology and communication will not stop here. Look how the secrets of the mighty US government are all over the Internet right now through WikiLeaks. Twenty years ago it would have been much easier to stop the publication of extra secrets, but now there is no way as organizations and individuals immediately setup copy sites and copy documents at the moment they become public. Imagine how the world, technology and communication will have evolved in ten years from now: expect that there will be little secrecy and privacy left.

And what companies still not seem to be aware of is that negative messages will last much longer. When United apologized to Dave Carroll for breaking his guitar, his video had been seen by about 150,000 people. That video has been copied by several people and after years is still out there and has now been seen by over 10 million people. Once the cat is out of the bag a company will have to suffer its negative influence for years to come. It is time companies learn that a great customer service, openness and honesty will go a much longer way.

What is your opinion? Will there be no more privacy in the future? will companies be able to survive if they do not become totally transparent?
 
 
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  BOOK REVIEWS
Some of my personal remarks and opinion on books related to social media marketing:

"Socialnomics" How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, by Erik Qualman

 

"New rules of PR & Marketing" How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, by David Meerman Scott

 
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