When you boil down attitudes toward and execution of social media practices, it's all about leadership. Real leadership, not the popular definition that rises from the horrific misinterpretation of Geoffrey Moore's book, Crossing the Chasm. Let me explain that reference a bit more in depth first.
Moore stated fairly simply that for a technology company to be successful, it must attain the perception of leadership in a market niche. The misinterpretation of that concept is what screws up the marketing for so many companies. Moore's statement was an indicator of success and a strategy, not a tactic. If you are the perceived market niche leader, Moore explains, THEN you know you successfully crossed the chasm. Therefore your marketing strategy must revolve around developing the perception of leadership. However, most companies believe that saying you are a leader in your marketing documents, even when you are clearly not the or even a leader, is a strategic leap forward. And that is when the horror begins. Why is that? Well, as Margaret Thatcher said, being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to tell someone you are, then you aren't.
Marketing is all about knowing where you stand in your market, but most start-up companies ... well, most companies ... don't really have a clue. There entire focus is on their product or service and how they can get someone to buy it. They started out solving a specific problem in a specific sub-niche arena and now they have to recoup that invested time. So they start jamming their answer into customer engagements without even knowing the questions being asked. That brings me next to a new axiom (new to me) that I heard a couple of weeks ago attributed to a social media guru names Clay Cotton.
Fall in love with your market, not your product
Are you old enough to remember when fax machines were technological marvels? Are you old enough to still consider fax machines important pieces of office equipment? There are companies out there still trying to make a living of of selling and servicing fax machines. That's my definition of being in love with your product: They are willing to enable their dwindling customer base in ignoring the advance of technology, just so they don't have to really pay attention to what is going on in the world.
Those kind of companies don't like the social media paradigm.
To be successful in this world, you have to really understand that Geoffrey Moore wasn't saying you have to create the illusion of leadership, you have to demonstrate it in order to be perceived as a leader. It's kind of the difference between being a cattleman and a sheepherder. Cattle are driven to slaughter, never to be seen again. Cattle don't trust cowboys, they fear them and cowboys curse their herds. Sheep are lead to be sheared on a regular basis and they find comfort and protection in the shepherd. They follow shepherds and shepherds care for the flock.
Social media is a shepherding process. It provides valuable feed back from your customers that you can use to adjust not only your messages, but your technology and services. It's interactive. It creates the perception of leadership, if done right. And it changes your perception of your business as well.
Which is why you don't (or do) like it.