In the age of social media, are corporations evil? Chris Brogan has an interesting take on the subject that is worth reading (in response to this article). This is the paragraph I really related to (since I’m a community relations guy):

From Faceless to Human

It’s REAL easy to throw stones at a company. Earlier in the year, I found the startup where I worked, Network2, in a situation where a passionate community had some disapproval of how we’d done certain things with the product. And the fire from the community was hot. People were passionately against how we’d done certain things (it was essentially an opt-out vs. opt-in issue).

I found myself in the position of being the “face” of that organization, and showing people that I wasn’t a big company, or an evil corporation. I was a guy, a guy who made mistakes like everyone else, and a human. Further, I wasn’t just someone capitalizing on the community. I was part of it. So, three dozen apologies later, and lots of attempts to better understand people, I discovered a better path. I believe, all this time later, that what little standing I have with that community was earned by showing them that I’m a human representing an organization.

Humanizing a brand is exactly why social media is powerful. It’s easy to dislike a company, but not so easy to dislike a person you know. When you think of a company & automatically think of a person you know as opposed to thinking of “the Corporation” — that’s a good thing for the company in my mind.

So, my answer is — of course corporations participating in social media are not evil.

  • Wait a sec. Are you saying those who don’t are evil? Maybe some haven’t figured out the need yet. Maybe some shouldn’t. I can probably name 40 types of businesses that don’t need (need!) social media.

    But on the positive side, I totally love the humanizing of brands. : )

  • I’m not saying those that don’t are evil – far from it. I would guess there are probably some companies that wouldn’t get much benefit from it, but not many.

  • Drew, I think for now it’s wonderful to interact with corporations, but over time- when everyone is on this trip, the silly cute cuddly business approach will wear out, I think there is a happy medium.

    Now, to address your title, yes, all big businesses are machines. All the happy blogging and social media is great, but the minute you’re on hold dealing with a gear of the machines, the reality sets in- the connection you made is broken. If HR departments of the huge companies do not begin teaching their “gears” to spin in the direction of “the consumer” and make decisions that are in favor of consumers- 2.0 risks becoming another way to fake a smile.

  • That said, I’m of the mind that there really is no way to humanize a corporation in its social media efforts, per se. I believe in humanizing people within the org (i.e. Dell’s Lionel Menchacha, Zillow’s you), but brands are simply not people. They possess attributes lack emotions, fears and needs.