Thursday, 1 April 2010

Is Social Media About Being Opaque?

Something occurred to me during the Nestle chocolate meltdown in Social Media the other day. I picked up on the story from @jamiec and took a wonder over to the Facebook page seeing straight away that the language used might well be one of the last examples of unvarnished corporate sentiment we'll get to see. It's the language of 'fuck you' isn't it?

So among other digital dropped jaws, I tweeted that part. It was picked up State-side where it started to do the rounds. I can't imagine too many multinationals making that mistake again. It's inconceivable that a Facebook fan page will instruct its fans how to behave and even more damagingly resort to biting sarcasm.

From this it's clear that many are still naive about what makes for participation in social media. Who are still drawing on legacy sentiment from the past. That is the mechanistic and 'professional' corporate bullying tone. Invariably a top-down, hierarchical monologue model (both internally and externally).

But somewhat surprising to me about the whole affair is the sheer hypocrisy of the blogging and digital social media community. The people who jumped on the band wagon who profess to understand social media. These are people who seemingly claim to partake in its values and yet who time and again dodge being transparent, authentic or  in current parlance, human.

Sure it's one thing to gasp in surprise at Nestle's coming out party. But the number of bloggers who are missing a human side to Nestle's use of Palm Oil by Indonesia's deforesting Sinar Mas conglomerate didn't escape me. New meeja's transparent schadenfreude at Nestle was easy to see and yet seemingly opaque when it came to their own positions on the issue. You do have a position right? It's only human after all.

It's one thing for Nestle to parade their sensitivity to local issues by creating say regional flavour variants of Kit Kat in Japan (how Kawaii), but it seems the locals of Indonesia's Riau province on the island of Sumatra are taking a good pasting while trying to protect the land from deforestation by Sinar Mas. All three Youtube clips are still below two thousand hits despite Nestle + Social Media search terms on Google being around half a million.

What does this tell me? It tells me that the sit-on-the-fence, have no controversial opinion, follow-the-dollar attitude that contributed to the decline of advertising's reputation is spilling over into social media. I just don't know how y'all can profess to being authentic, human, transparent and 'keeping it real' if you have no opinion on the issue. Which isn't about Nestle messing up in Social Media. It's about the deforestation for palm oil in Indonesia. Or did we just hijack it so we can wave it in the face of the next corporation to put us on the pitch list and who are stuck in the 20th century so that we incentivise them to work with us? 

Transparent, human and authentic us.