As one that is always on the for great documentaries, I’m always glad to make a new find. In the category of social media documentary, I have a few favorites:
This social media documentary explores some of the real issues originally presented in the firehose of factoids from the original “Shift Happens” videographic from 2008–now in its sixth version. Cultural shift is happening because users of technology are changing as Clay Shirky says, “Revolution doesn’t happen when we have new tools. Revolution happens when we adopt new behaviors.” While a majority of this film explores the disrupted balance of political power because of technology, at about the half-way mark it explores what this shift in power means to banks, business and brands. As a side note, the makers of this film could only only imagine the role that social media would play in the massive political uprising of the Arab Spring.
For years, I have talked about the shift from broadcast to conversation and connecting, but I was even taken aback at Don Tapscott’s fundamental question: “Why do companies exist?” As a business owner, I can say that having a “marketing firm” allows me to find the best talent and build teams of the best possible collaboration. In the glory days of Mad Men, having all of your creative services on staff was a necessity, but now, as Tapscott suggests, collaboration is now universal to not only employees on the other side of the globe but also customers in our backyard.
Whether in politics or business, those in power dictate the behavior and mode of communication to the others. Traditionally, the few have had the power over the many. In the case of brands, typically a small room of advertising executives could tell the customers what they should think of the brand, but with the advent of social media that has all changed. Customers are now able to band together in ways never imagined to the advertising execs of old and the customers, together, take the message of the brand and buying decisions dictates from the company.
As Lee Bryant said, “Groups of individuals can change things.” Regularly, there are cases of company idiocy exposed by their customers.
- In 2008, Motrin angered moms over this ad, so the mothers banded together to express their frustration, which resulted in a letter from the Motrin VP of Marketing.
- In 2009, United Airlines allegedly broke Dave Carroll’s guitar. When the typical channels of customer service failed, Carroll took to the YouTubes creating a video that garnered millions of views. [Read more at Justin Ecung's PR Case Study]
- In 2011, Netflix’s CEO announced the creation of a seperate company called Quikster, and it’s customers said not so Quik.
- Most recently, Instagram angered its users with changes to the Terms of Service, which left many customers in the dark, for good.
United, customers are empowered to refuse being audience to company’s broadcasts. The customers, together, can spread outrage to company’s policies with epidemic speed, and the companies are left to make difficult decisions. The key here is that in the previous era customers were like cattle at pasture, they were fed and watered when called, but otherwise. Now the general public and customers are stakeholders–practically in the board room with the companies.
In conclusion, does this level of transparency and accountability insure the best company behavior? Sometimes, the companies make decisions that go against the popular persuasion. Chick-Fil-A refused to buckle to the social media pressure in the summer of 2012. Is the trend going to be for more companies to stand up for their decisions, or will we see more companies cave to the pressures? If they do cave, is that genuinely a response to the market, or is it a response to a well-crafted consumer campaign?