Stephen Baker

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Social media snake oil... at BusinessWeek

December 6, 2009General

When I pitched my BusinessWeek story about social media snake oil a couple months agol, I mentioned in passing that every company had to come up with a strategy for social media. This provoked a testy reaction from one editor. He disputed the point and made it clear that he thought 99% of it was BS. I disagreed.

That little tussle at the editorial meeting points to what social media unleashes inside of companies. There are people who embrace much of it and talk it up, and others who resent them and think they're full of it. And with every promise about the silo-busting potential of social media, these opponents resent it more--and many no doubt work overtime to reinforce silos.

If I were to be a social media consultant at a place like BusinessWeek, I would go to great lengths to understate its potential. I would describe the efforts as experiments and pooh-pooh its power to disrupt and recast our business. Basically, I would work hard to defang the opponents. And by underpromising on results, good chance I'd over deliver. Because even if social media is hyped, it is real, it is powerful, and it's changing business.

The crucial question: Can social media consultants get work by underpromising? Good post and discussion about this subject at Darmano.

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