It is my pleasure to welcome Brian Solis to this series of discussions around the #Social Survival Manifesto. Brian, for those who have not yet crossed his formidable online presence, is one of the few people today who can claim the title of ‘social media guru’ without raising sneers. And Brian’s expertise spans much more than social media. He’s a principal analyst at Altimeter Group where he studies disruptive technology and its impact on business. He is also someone who studies digital anthropology and sociology and documents technology’s impact society and culture. Through his work, he attempts to bring the two worlds together. Brian is the author of the recent critically-acclaimed business title: WTF – What is the Future of Business?
Below is a recent exchange with Brian on the themes of the #Social Survival Manifesto and their crossover with concepts covered in WTF – What is the Future of Business.
TOM LIACAS: In my Manifesto, the principal drivers for change I put forth revolve around the specters of social media crisis and #fails. In other words, the risk that online critics or pressure groups could do some serious damage to a brand’s reputation if the corporation is doing social media poorly or not at all. This is my ‘stick’ when arguing for change in corporate communications. You have yet another that you propose in your book: The idea of ‘Digital Darwinism’. Can you tell us more about this concept?
“Digital Darwinism” is a kind of natural market selection that favors innovative companies at a time when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of many organizations to adapt. It is this dynamic (along with a myriad of other problems of course) that in fact killed Borders, Blockbuster, Polaroid, Kodak, and the like. Not only did digital Darwinism cost us close to a half billion jobs, it’s only accelerating.
But there’s more. You’re right on track with your manifesto. In WTF, which is not only the abbreviated title of my new book, it’s also an expression of what many strategists and executives declare when they attempt to bring about meaningful change. The future of brands, including reputation, is not created, it’s co-created by shared experiences. In a connected society, these shared experiences pool and intensify and at some point, they outclass traditional branding and marketing. Conversations, reviews, and experiences aren’t Snapchats, they don’t self destruct.
In a connected world where people don’t necessarily start with the discovery process with Google and don’t rely on websites as much as their traditional counterparts, it’s shared experiences in social and mobile communities that become the catalyst to decision-making.
TOM LIACAS: Why is it so hard for businesses to adapt to the new cultural realities and public expectations of the digital age?
Part of the problem is that decision makers and stakeholders react to shareholders and not necessarily customers or markets. When they are ready to react, it’s typically a technology-first rather than a people-first initiative. Without understanding behavior, expectations, patterns, and new touch points, technology is often the right answer at the wrong time. It’s not unlike the famous saying about missed targets when they follow a “ready, fire, aim” command.
TOM LIACAS: What are the necessary conditions for making change happen?
Over the years, I’ve studied how disruptive technology affects consumer behavior and decision-making. I’ve also researched how businesses react (or don’t) to these changes. What I’ve learned is that barring a few exceptional instances of complete ignorance, organizations are open to adaptation if there’s indeed a case made for it and a path outlined to strategically and effectively navigate meaningful change. This is about relevance…anything less is competing for complacency
TOM LIACAS: A case you make in WTF – What is the Future of Business and I make, in my own way, with the #Social Survival Manifesto…
Indeed. Let’s get to work already…#WTF
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