Media Marketplace: Social Without the Media

Contact-Media Marketplace-Jay SuhrFrom a historical perspective, we all know that this year will be a landmark one for business.What we don't know is just how transformative it will be for business, communications and marketing.

This month, Jeffrey Dachis joins the forum. As cofounder of Razorfish, his expansive thinking helped shape the first build of the digital communications landscape. Now, as CEO of Dachis Corporation (the D/B/A name for his stealth-mode start-up focusing on enterprise social software), he sees another "huge wave of transformation" as businesses adopt social "constructs" to communicate, collaborate, participate and share with a broad group of stakeholders.

The Social Enterprise
Embrace stakeholder dialogue, not marketing.
Jeffrey Dachis: You hear the term "social" applied to everything. The way it is currently used in media and marketing is a bit inflated. Brands can't really assume personas and engage customers in conversations. Our new venture is focused on developing social constructs - what we believe is the most powerful trend we've seen in communications to date. We're looking at things not from the brand perspective, but from the corporation's perspective in how it engages its employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
Jay Suhr: We term the brand-to-consumer aspect of social as "unpaid media." The challenge is delicate in giving the brand or the company a voice in the dialogue without pushing its way into the conversation.
JD: Push models should give way to a more participatory process. It's not uncommon for design and engineering of products to happen in a vacuum. Marketing is used to communicate benefits, and perceptions are shifted through advertising, with people expected to consume the product based on their belief in the advertising. Products are not really a direct response to what people want. Ideally, you want customers participating in the design process.
JS: Ford is one company that seems much more open about listening and responding to customers' input.
JD: Ford, Dell and Cisco are great examples. We see the ultimate goal in making conversation a part of the organization, not apart from the organization. To make it happen at a corporate level, a cultural shift has to occur. A process change has to occur. You can't get this from a siloed, information-hoarding company.
A Different Spin on Media Mix
Social is a different type of investment.
JS: We are big advocates of social conversations and recognize that people do appreciate and seek out specific types of social interactions with brands. We're most taken with a social program's ability to extend a message through participation and sharing. One of our creative directors calls this "exponentializing." We're starting to put metrics against this.
JD: The way we think of social is not related to the measured media mix. It's not dollars placed against interruption-based environments. The area that we are working in is distinctly different from social media. We see the greater opportunity lies in helping companies communicate, collaborate, participate and share with their internal and external stakeholders. The goal is to create virtuous dialogue.
JS: From a marketing perspective, we see it as meaningful dialogue. It needs to be an open and fair exchange.
JD: Ultimately, we see it as mutual value creation between employees, suppliers and customers driven by responsive and receptive give-and-take.
Digital Doomsday
Apply dot-com bust lessons today.
JS: The dot-com bust hit while you were at Razorfish. What lessons can be applied today?
JD: Back in 2001, the Internet became a parched desert of opportunity. The media and Wall Street pretty much branded the Internet as a hoax - inferring you couldn't build a successful digital business. Well, we learned the Internet is very real. Digital helps a business do things better, faster and cheaper. I think we're about to see a real shift in how businesses work. I had these wild and woolly visions about the Internet back in 1994. It may take another 15 years. We'll see.

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