Be Curious, Not Dismissive

I recall a situation in 2007 (while in the consulting space) when most businesses were barely scratching the surface with digital marketing. The story goes like this: one of my clients, a national brand that is a household name was reticent to participate in social.

What was interesting is very smart people were running the company. But even after we explained the situation, shared research and outlined the benefits of embracing social marketing, they still seemed ambivalent. Or perhaps a better word: dismissive. “Why would anyone want to do that?” was a common response to what we showed people (specifically their fans) were doing. Even when endorsements, reactions and demand for social participation was right in their faces, they ignored it.

They dismissed the idea that the world was changing: either out of fear that marketing had passed them by or that their previous years of success were in jeopardy. Maybe easier to ignore the change going on around them than embrace it.

Of course, they changed their tune eventually. This massive brand is now one of the most successful consumer brands on social. They have 7-figure followings on most of their channels (trending to 8). They actively engage their communities, have a thriving social CRM program, deftly execute social promotions and tap their fans for content. It’s wonderful to watch and to someone on the outside, it seems organic. Like those operating the brand knew well enough to participate in social. They didn’t. Not without much persuasion, presentations and hand-holding.

It could have been so much easier. They could have been curious and started sooner (the reality is we began the process in 2006, it took a lot of work on our part). Many cycles wasted by fighting the future, they could be so much further ahead. I had a conversation with an executive from this brand years after who asked why they didn’t see it sooner. But I think they did see it, they just weren’t ready to accept the shift and were part of a culture that was change-averse.

The lesson? Be curious, not dismissive. Experiment. Try things and iterate. It is such a better mindset and leads to so many more possibilities than being closed off. The world is changing faster than ever and you need to be ready to change with it.

Image via 50 viral images