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    May 18, 2009


    Walter Adamson

    Great article and interesting comments.

    1. As @gary said treating social media as "marketing" or a channel or a campaign without an overall holistic strategy ensures brand failure in these two senses at least (a) lack of authenticity, and (b) lack of brand depth.

    2. Brand depth may be your authenticity, I'm not sure which is part of which, but it is when the customer experience does not match the promise.

    3. Since the customer experience and engagement in social media can touch and impact on many parts of an organisation including marketing, service, logistics, product innovation, etc all these aspects have to be part of a social media strategy if that strategy is to successfully support authenticity and brand depth.

    I wrote recently that social media may in fact force the reinvention of marketing to properly support authenticity/depth and to abandon its current degeneration into "branding".


    Walter Adamson @g2m
    Social Media Academy, Australia

    Promotional Products

    Very well said, I think this is often overlooked. Many brands are trying to connect to today's youth and be a part of the newest fad while they are neglecting quality and authenticity, and scaring away some of their older more reliable clientele.

    Jonathan Burg

    More brands would check off boxes to deliver "authenticity" than there are brands that consumers consider to be authentic.

    These are great points, I just wonder what comes next. Can brands be sincere? Can they be real in the sense that we can love them? Can they give and take?

    I am playing with this infrastructure, and it isn't finished - would love you feedback. Brands are authentic when their communications department, the boardroom and their employees are all on the same page.

    Authentic doesn't = positive. it just means that they real.

    My Deal

    Super article, your points were well received.

    I agree that Brand needs to be concise; they need to be up front and honest about the product/service what it does and doesn't do -- essentially what it is all about. Branding is necessary for trust ability, it needs to be solid and it has to be tried and true. I agree that it can't be based on trends or fads because they change as fast as people change their underwear.

    Steffan Postaer

    I wrote about something very similar. I think understanding "motive" is the key for advertisers and social networks.


    Margery Nabors

    Though I think this paper underscores the value of authenticity of brand activities on the social web through very digestible & disparate examples, I believe it would greatly benefit from a follow up piece detailing various +/- moves in the social space by a single brand to further delineate what is core extension of the brand (in a social space) and what is not.

    For example, although the Target "Rounders" was not an authentic move for reasons you cited, but their more recent "Bullseye Gives - Crowdsourcing for Charity" is right on... do I dare say,target?

    Gary Moneysmith


    Great article. I can appreciate how much work went into crafting it. I think it points out the crucial need for strategy to drive the social media marketing process. If a company's DNA isn't baked into the campaign, it quickly becomes noise. I'm glad you didn't focus on specific tools/tactics as they can (and will) change over time. Brands need to persist over the long haul and not get mangled by the tools used to bring them to life.


    A. Parker

    I thought this was a great article that really shows how brands are trying to adapt to social media. I can't help but wonder if social media doesn't simply highlight pre-existing strengths and weaknesses. I've seen too many companies that have an amazing brand and know exactly who they are, but completely lose touch with the customer, and now it's harder to hide that. People want people, whether that is a person (vs. recorded voice) on the phone or a company that uses social media to welcome them into a brand experience.

    This article also reminded me of Wendy's campaign, which seems to miss both the customer and the brand ("It's way better than fast food, it's Wendy's"). I get annoyed every time I hear it. Wendy's is fast food. That's the whole point. That's why people take large groups of people there, or line around the building in the drive-thru. Those are the people they need to be speaking to, and those people are there for fast food.

    Great article!


    I love the expression "lobbing elves." (sounds like a good band name too)
    Your article carries so much power because it is utterly and shamelessly obvious. Just like an authentic brand. The truth is there all the time. Our job is to find it. And then, not screw it up.

    lobbing elves. (chuckle)

    Dave Culbertson

    A great article. I agree with every part of it except Ford. So far, Ford is a social media chickenhawk. http://lightbulbinteractive.blogspot.com/2009/05/are-you-social-media-chickenhawk.html

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