Ted Rubin published a very direct and thought-provoking article on Social Fresh on Monday. His piece, with its attention getting title 2 Core Reasons Why Businesses Fail At Social, delivered exactly what it promised. Without giving away the meat of his arguments, his key statements are:

  1. Companies fear social, fear the permanence of the web; and,
  2. Companies mistrust employees instead of empowering them.

Not just for the sake of rounding out the list to three items, I believe Ted left out a very significant reason — perhaps intentionally to inspire conversation. So, I’ll indulge him.

I believe the most significant reason businesses fail at social is because they don’t “get” social.

Business, associations, governments, and even individuals who fail at social often don’t understand that being social online is not so different from being social in “protein space.” You need to listen. You need to be aware of the people, the language, the issues being discussed and the social dynamics of the group.

Consider this… you wouldn’t arrive at someone’s house on a dinner invitation and then talk at your hosts and other guests for the duration of the evening. You shouldn’t apply a different set of rules to an online interaction just because you’re looking at a piece of glass rather than another person.

This is exactly the rationale behind the book TOUCH that I co-authored with Tod Maffin last year. The premise of the book is that in their rush to digital and social media, organizations and the people that represent them to the public have forgotten how to be social — even human for that matter.

Being effective online, over social media, means being social. It’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

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