How Social Media Really Works

I went to email this to a friend of mine and realized that there was probably a better means of putting this thought out to him through Facebook.  Except Facebook is either down (earlier today they told me my account was inaccessible because they were doing update work on the servers) or is no longer accessible behind the work firewall.

WHATEVER – though there is probably something to be learned from that experience.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.  What happens when the services we depend upon are not accessible to us?  Those who are active tweeters who have experienced the fail whale on many occasions know exactly that of which I speak.

Fail Whale

With that said, here’s the main thrust of this post.  Hat tip to John Gruber for bringing Matt’s rant to my attention.

Maybe you’ve already seen Matt Haughey’s [founder of MetaFilter] rant on “How Social Media Really Works” on his personal website.  If not, it’s worth a read.

Make sure you read through the entire set of comments.  Basically his argument breaks down to: I research products by asking the people I trust and their opinion is really what matters most to me.  In the end, I want to buy the best products available so my suggestion to the marketers out there is build an excellent product and the voice of the masses will discover your excellence.  Gaming the system will gain you nothing if your product sucks.

In my mind there is strong value to his argument.  As the Cluetrain Manifesto once upon a time declared, markets are conversations.  Any attempt to game those conversations will eventually come back to bite the author / sponsoring company in the ass.  If you become a part of the conversation and realize that in today’s market, your brand is largely no longer controlled by you, then you have an opportunity to first hear, then learn from, and if you’re really good, educate your community.

A brand manager’s responsibility in this new era is to foster and cultivate their community by developing products and experiences that offer answers to the jobs their customers have that need to be done.  It means do an awful lot more listening and a lot less talking.