Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Things You Can't Fake on Social Media

This week Social Media channels are abuzz with NBC's epic failure to recognize what Social Media is about...and what the Internet is, full stop. While Twitter blazes with reported failures of NBC's streaming channels and inability to access live coverage, NBC executives have taken to the airwaves to explain to the denizens of the Internet how the problems are all their fault.

The above debacle is a massive and public expression of the two things that cannot be faked in Social Media: Cluefulness and Relevance.

Being clueless is, unfortunately for many businesses, quite simple. All you need to do is have no idea of the needs of your audience, or any idea of what social media really is (hint: it's a lot of people talking...).

Being Clueful and Relevant means you know:

Who Your Audience Is (Where they are, When they are on)

What They Want

How They Intend to Get What They Want If You Don't Give It To Them

This last is where NBC really dropped the ball. By insisting on delayed coverage for the Opening Ceremonies, I guess they expected we'd all sit around staring at the clock. Instead, many of us simply found overseas streams and proxy servers, so we could watch the Ceremonies live. It took me, oh, about 15 minutes to find a working overseas stream. When that one cut out, it took me 10 more minutes to find another one.

But I'm not talking about NBC today. I'm talking about another failure to be Clueful or Relevant. A much, much smaller scale of failure, but just as annoying.

Yesterday I received a tweet: Hey @Yuricon! I followed you, you should follow me!

Okay, not the most skilled opening, but maybe sincere. So I popped over to their account and found something that only very tangentially intersected my interests and the interests of my audience. I tweeted back:

"Your topic isn't my topic, but if you say something interesting, I'll share it and follow."

Okay, so far, another day on Twitter. Bear in mind that I am outspoken about media's failure when it comes to women (hyper-sexualization, body image, unequal portrayals of men and women in power, dismissive and judgmental language in regards to women, etc.,). The next tweet showed a massive dose of Cluelessness.

The person/company in question assured me that they understood women, because he (he had identified himself) was publishing a book on self-improvement for women. My response was admittedly very sarcastic, something about how wonderful that was, because more women need more men to tell them how to improve themselves.

Here's my point. NBC execs are taking to Twitter to tell us to stop whining, that the problems are with our computers..., this shows clearly a complete lack of connection with their audience. It's obvious that to NBC and to the IOC, that we are merely a commodity to be bought and sold. NBC cannot fake having a clue, or understanding the least anything about Social Media. This guy was also unable to fake being Clueful or Relevant and instead, just opted to throw his one pitch with "something about women" at me.

The worst part about companies pretending to have a clue or to be relevant, is that it is horribly, painfully evident to anyone looking on.

NBC could have asked their interns, "Hey, if we do a time-delay on the Opening Ceremonies, what would you do?" This guy could have read some of my posts and seen what he does that would be relevant to me and my audience.

Have a clue who you're talking to - about what - and why - and you won't need to fake anything at all.

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