I imagine that everyone reading this is familiar with the Cluetrain Manifesto. If by chance you are not then you must go read it now. It will tell you more about how to tweet, follow, friend and blog than all the myriad advice columns combined. This is true despite the fact that it is ten years old and when it was written most of those things didn’t exist or were of little relevance. Incredible really.
Here’s a quote from the very beginning:
“… markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.
Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.
But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”
Ten years later it’s still not obvious how a company accomplishes that. It wants to project an image with a certain consistency and polish. How do they do this while letting the many voices that are the company speak in their “true voice”.
There’s no simple answer other than to convene your various employees, customers, prospects, partners, stockholders, and whoever else and let them talk. One thing you learn from Cluetrain is that you better be part of the conversation.