Since my last post, I have changed both agencies and continents, moving from the black sheep agency, BBH in Singapore to the ‘Unbound’ agency, Mullen in Boston. But that’s not why I’m posting. This post was actually triggered by a Facebook update this morning in which I said: ”When you hear agencies talk about managing brands’ conversations on social media, you know that it’s code for running ‘call centers’ on Facebook.” I guess I’d just grown tired of hearing agencies spout vacuous, self-important statements that seem detached from reality.
I then followed up with an (obvious) point: “Brands don’t talk; people talk.”
This, in turn, triggered a few comments and questions, such as: “Brands dont talk? So why do we catalyse ‘brand conversations’? Why do we have a ‘brand language’? If a brand is built around a relationship, doesnt silence make that relationship flat and one dimensional if not a monologue?…. Discuss….”
Now, that comment alone most certainly sent the man pictured above out on a mission, but I took the opportunity to elaborate on my rather blunt statement:
“We definitely rely on metaphor a lot to describe how comms promoting brands should look, feel and behave, as we say. Too much sometimes, I think. (You can often hear Bullshit Man hovering just below the ceiling in meeting rooms) But what people working for companies say about companies/brands (on social media) is not the same as saying that this is the ‘brand’s voice’. Rather, it’s the voice of people working for companies promoting brands, answering questions about brands in a call center-esque manner. And that’s why I said that ‘brands don’t talk; people talk’.”
When call centre businesses realize there’s money to be made from answer questions on Facebook on behalf of businesses (and not just over the phone) they’re going to get many a social media agency a good run for their money.