The Flashing of Fireflies

Why then, as we discussed yesterday, are companies happy to talk about their social media strategy, but with few exceptions, largely avoid Facebook, the biggest social medium of all?  We suggested that they were perhaps uncomfortable engaging with a platform peopled by individuals who are emotionally and psychologically in their pajamas.  Others have proposed that it’s not clear exactly how a Fortune 100 corporation (other than, say, Nike or Coca-Cola) find its community of interest on Facebook.

We think there’s also a problem of definition, an understandable failure to grasp what  could actually create  value for organizations on Facebook.  Understandable, because the language to describe what’s going on when a company creates truly vibrant relationships in a social medium doesn’t exist.

Marc Monseau, social media strategist at Johnson & Johnson, has correctly observed that if you treat social media as a broadcast channel for reaching audiences you’re missing the point.

We’d like to borrow a concept from science to fix this language problem and this is where the fireflies come in.    When they gather at night, they gradually synchronize their flashing.  When two pendulums are swinging in different rhythms, they eventually fall into the same rhythm.  This is a process called “entrainment” and it is found throughout the natural world.

We think this is what is happening in social media or should be happening.  Corporations signal what they are interested in and invite response.  Fans indicate what they are interested in and invite response.  The iteration of this process over time creates entrainment, in which both parties adjust to create mutual benefit.  In the case of pendulums, the faster one slows down and the slower one speeds up.

The corporations that structure their Facebook or other social media pages based on the entrainment principle will create value for themselves and their stakeholders because to do so requires a radically different approach.  They will have the fireflies to thank for it.

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One Response to “The Flashing of Fireflies”

  1. Procter’s Non-Gamble « Disturbing Conventions Says:

    […] to tell the brands what they want to talk and hear about.  Thus will they and the brands become entrained in a rhythm of mutual reward.  Let the games […]

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