Authentic Conversation – Real, Simple, Honest

The opening paragraphs of the chapter titled ’95 Theses’ from The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual says (taken from this page):

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter-and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

Remember…this was written in 1999.  Sounds a lot like what you read today about why organizations need to use Social Media.

The Cluetrain Manifesto continues (taken from the same page):

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

Again….sounds like stuff I’ve read recently about the use of Social Media by organizations.

Here we are, 10 years after The Cluetrain Manifesto was written and we’re still hearing/saying the same thing.  Organizations still don’t seem to ‘get’ that their customers are human beings who are smart enough to understand when they aren’t hearing the truth from them.

Today, organizations are trying to figure out how to use Social Media to embrace their customers.  I’m all for embracing customers and using Social Media to do this and, in fact, I think it’s important and vital to the success of an organization today.

But…unless organizations change their approach to  Social Media and/or any other method/idea/tool for embracing customers, the results will be the same as every other approach.

What do organizations need to do differently?  Forget the tools. Forget Social Media (not really…but keep reading).  Forget marketing.

What organizations need to do is go back to the basics of having an Authentic Conversation with their customer.

What is an Authentic Conversation? An Authentic Conversation is one in which an organization (or person) has a simple, honest and real conversation.

Sounds good right? I think so. Of course, the idea of authentic conversations isn’t new…but it seems as if it needs to be defined again with everyone talking about Social Media.   Why?

Simple…You can spend millions of dollars building platforms and tools to use social media but if your message isn’t authentic (e.g., simple, real, honest), the money will be a waste.   Forget the money for a minute…you could get into Social Media for free and still waste your time.  Why?  Because the second your customers get a hint of un-authentic conversations, they’ll revolt….and tell all of their friends.

Organizations need to start looking at ways to have simple, real and honest conversations with their customers on whatever medium makes sense.  Do this and customers will thank and embrace you.

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