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Am I a Social Misfit? I Hope So!

Posted on : 10-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media

Tags: ,


On Sunday Morning I received a tweet from @ChrisJohson asking “did you see how you got slammed on the last page of the November issue of Fast Company?”  Of course this piqued my interest, so I immediately went to the Fast Company website to find the article.  I was surprised to hear they would speak negatively about company involvement in social media because here is how Fast Company describes the magazine:

“Fast Company sets the agenda, charting the evolution of business through a unique focus on the most creative individuals sparking change in the marketplace. By uncovering best and “next” practices, the magazine helps a new breed of leader work smarter and more effectively.

Fast Company empowers innovators to challenge convention and create the future of business.”

I also have so much respect for many of the writers and bloggers involved with the publication.  The magazine is excellent at spurring new thoughts and additional innovative ideas.  In fact I like it so much I recently sent in an order based on my frequent flier points.  So anyway I go to the website and I look through the articles in the current issue.  I think what Chris was talking about was an article titled “Abusing Social Media:  How companies abuse tech’s latest tools and embarrass themselves.


The link that leads you to the article changes the title to “Not So Fast: Social Misfits.”  So I read the article multiple time to try to determine the viewpoint the author was attempting to portray.  I am not sure it was negative about my work.  So the article starts off with:

Thanks for nothing, Web 2.0. With each sexy bit of social media that catches fire with users, lame companies get another fresh opportunity to pretend they know how to connect with customers without understanding what they’re doing.  No business is abandoning traditional advertising in favor of these gimmicky, halfhearted efforts. They’re just abandoning any self-respect they once possessed”

It discusses different ways companies have used social media.  One of the first points is regarding me on Twitter.  Of course she did not mention the 4700 follower or the thousands of people my team has helped through the course of the year.  It also talks about the need for sales generation or other corporate goals that these efforts have.  Well I can easily make that case and so can my followers.


Now one of the points in the article is some of the silly RSS feeds that are part of corporate twitter accounts.  I agree that this can be silly, but no one has to subscribe.  I prefer interactions that are more personal.  I still applaud the companies in recognizing social media spaces and trying to find a way to get involved.  It is at least a start.  In the article it talked about @Starbucks and @Wachovia talking to each other.  I have had fun talking to @Starbucks too!


I also chuckled when she stated that Twitter is popular with Gen Y.  I do not think this is the selected social media space for Gen Y.  I have found them more in MySpace and Facebook.  Twitter I have found to be more of the early adopters which is a little older.  But hey if they want to think of me as Gen Y, I would be happy with that!


What I kept coming back to when I read the article was the lead in link regarding “Social Misfits”  This gives the connotation that this is outside the norm.  I have never sought to fit into any specific group.  I have always sought to be myself.  I think this leads to different thinking and an alternative way of looking at things.  I applaud companies for trying something different.  Companies may not always get it right but those that at least try can learn and become even stronger.


Maybe the author was trying to take a traditional marketing view of the web 2.0 landscape.  This is not a space for a traditional viewpoint.  Now I work from a Customer Service viewpoint.  Imagine if there was no innovation in service?  You would have to visit someone for service.  No phone, mail, email, or online chat.  Isn’t social media a natural progression?  Now I may have a narrow viewpoint, but personally if I saw someone on the street asking for help, I would help.  Why would I not want to do the same for someone on the web?


Am I a misfit?  I hope so.  That just means that I am doing something that is different, maybe revolutionary.  What do you think?  Should companies be normal?