The Punk!ing of Social Business

Here most of us are, trying to explain the value of cultivating connections with our customers and forging a community of users built on solid product, stellar experience, and authentic communication. For the average marketer (and the average business), the road is a long one full of incremental baby steps and the occasional delay or detour. Still, that beacon of social business shines brightly and encourages us to travel on.

But what if you’re Ashton Kutcher? An acclaimed actor whose charm and FastCompany Dec09charisma precedes him? Well then you “…use [Ashton's] your brand as a syndication system,” as commented in the latest issue of Fast Company by Sarah Ross, Kushton’s New Media Director at Katalyst, a media and production company. Kushton strives to become the first next-generation media mogul, using his brand as a springboard.

Well, sure. If only the rest of us were so well hooked up, it’d be a breeze to get the board to drink the Kool-Aid and put the kaibosh on the hairy eyeball Linda in operations keeps giving you when you speak of humanizing the brand.

In a chicken-and-egg move, it’s Ashton’s fans that garner the interest of big-league brands like Nestle and powerhouse Publicis Group. They see an instant audience and a persuasive, dynamic figurehead to drive interaction. And it’s the exposure and resources (of these brands) that afford Ashton (or any public figure) the very opportunity to build fan (read: customer) rapport to begin with (well, sure, there are additional ingredients as well).

Ashton’s plans to dominate the Web aside, how can the average company expect to adopt a viable social plan, infuse it throughout an organization, support the effort internally and externally, and continue to build new strategic imperatives as milestones are reached?

That’s a tall order made taller by the mixed apprehensions and opinions of many business executives. There are those that scream “That junk’s useless! We know our customers best!” And equally so, there seems to be a rise in those who say “How quickly can we get a fan page put up?” Oy vey.

Championing a social mindset to further business value is tough enough without someone getting their milkshake spiked, car towed, or fearing the citation-toting faux policeman.

Surely, there’s business success for the rest of us in an increasingly connected, accessible, approachable, media-rich world. Let’s figure out how to get, keep, and grow customers and share, shall we?

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