Why it’s essential to keep the ‘social’ in social media

Corporate shilling can undermine credibility and alienate your audience.

My old mentor, David Berlo, used to say “selling is lying when you’re doing it to a teammate.”

His point goes to the heart of a troubling trend emerging from the business world’s current fascination — and struggle — with social media. We’re seeing an unsavory mandate coming from corner offices in companies nationwide. Now that they have this cool tool called a “blog,” they want to use it to promote corporate messages alongside its intended use as a conversation tool for building relationships.

As blogging experts know, of course, once an organization starts down that path, credibility goes down the toilet. Some companies go so far as to use their blogs for posting news releases. You can imagine the reaction from bloggers to that kind of promotional intrusion?

You might as well be wearing a neon sign flashing: Propaganda!

So what’s a communicator to do?

It’s all about conversation

Maybe we can make some inroads by reminding executives of the good old days when one of the main forms of “social media” was — consumer affairs. What? Consumer affairs? What’s that got to do with social media?

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