“Authentic” is the latest marko-babble term being tossed around by today’s social mediaists – people who practice social media as if a religion. Since it’s on the tip of every digital marketing tongue today, I’ve been trying to learn what it means — and I’ve asked some pretty smart people. The answer I often get is another marko-babble term “transparent.” It seems authentic and transparent connote the honest and forthright response to the consumer baring of a product’s warts. When online consumers suggested “Comcast service sucks” an authentic response from the corporation was to fix the problem and socialize that fix online. Well that’s just good business.
Here’s my problem with authenticity and transparency: It’s not always managed properly. When consumers are driving the conversation, the weighting of messages may not be most conducive to sales. Let’s say iPhones sales are optimized when the media mix is 75% apps and 25% price — something that can be managed by Apple. But what happens when consumers are allowed to move the dial in favor of apps and that changes the optimized mix?
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media and I love consumers who are passionate enough about a product to post, but I also believe ceding control of the conversation can have a downside…and it needs to be managed. Peace!