Social Media and the Value of Authenticity

Like many enthusiasts of social technology, I understand the value placed on authenticity. After all, it wasn’t so long ago people were blasting the Wal-Mart sponsored bloggers for being corporate shills.

See, in this new 2.0 world, while there is a high level of anonymity – there is also an expected level of authenticity. The two kind of go hand in hand, and it makes the quality of user-generated data have an intrinsic value.

So, when I saw that the popular socially-driven rating site Yelp might be playing dirty pool with its reviews, it gave me pause. I mean, here is a community-driven concept going against its very value proposition. If the allegations are true, it could be an obstacle Yelp and other sites like it may not easily climb out from under.

A lot of people looking to take advantage of the explosion in social media tell me they are hesitant, mainly because of this issue. They often ask, “How do I look authentic, without allowing negative comments in our community?”

The short answer: You can’t have it both ways.

The SugarCRM forums, to use an easy example, are filled with great ideas, troubleshooting tips and tricks, wish lists for future CRM features, kudos to the engineering team, and yes – complaints about the product and/or service. Not every forum thread is a rave, and I think the community understands and respects the honesty that is found in the community forums.

And while it may be true that one negative customer experience can be more impactful than 10 good ones; hiding the bad ones in an open and social world can be even more dangerous…

2 thoughts on “Social Media and the Value of Authenticity

  1. Martin, I’m hosting a social media/networking strategy and tactics webinar on this subject on March 25 at 9:00 am. One of our presenters will be covering the evolution of the practice from blog to today; another will be speaking to the strategy and vision that organizations need to develop before starting to tweet; the last will be providing real-time/life examples of customer relationship and reference development using Twitter, Facebook, Ning, Linkedin, etc…..

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    As a proponent of open source, I am against censorship and blocking access to information.

    Obviously, Wikileaks is a rare case, but does lead to a larger discussion of social media and the role privacy and other laws play into the fact that individuals now have greater access to information, and the power to distribute sensitive material immediately to a large and unfiltered audience.

    Thanks again,


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