OP tee-shirts and social media

By Mark Eichler posted Dec 14, 2011 10:13 AM

Our recent Facebook blog , The Social Business Posers, by the inimitable Linda Morgan, made me think of my childhood and how some things just don’t change…

When I was a kid, in Delaware, I went to school with a bunch of surfers. Their OP tee-shirts testified as to the veracity of their California cred. Now, knowing that surfing the Rehoboth waves is decidedly un-fun and rarely done, I look back and chuckle. Posers. Worse, they infected me with poseritis when I bought an OP tee-shirt (several, actually). When you want to be young again, think of 8th grade and banish the thought. Works for me.

Things are much better today. I love being in a company empowering ideas and uniting people and organizations around great causes. At its best, social media cuts through the traditional armors of marketing and posturing, exposing "actualities" about our experiences, our organizations and ourselves, verified by others and debated when necessary. This is, really, what is new about social media – its organic and uncontrollable seeking of the honest truth.

Certainly, personal truths can make us uncomfortable. We all apply varnish when possible. Our avatars are slimmer; our photographs chosen with great care, friend requests to celebrities offered to spark-up a list. If any of you think President Obama writes his own blog, I have a bridge to sell you.

There is nothing wrong with wearing your best shoes when you put your best foot forward. But - in the social media world - all our shoes are glass slippers. The underlying truth is often visible, accessible, and somewhere else a click away.

For corporations, web 1.0 was about the "snazzy new website" filled content to make the company and its products appear cool. Web 2.0 is after-the-flash. Yes, promoting your company and its products attractively is necessary, but the content users really care about are the contributions the company (supposedly) did not control. Nothing is more valuable than organic verification from actual user that the products work and that the company stands behind them. The satisfied customer is now on display. Her or his absence is noted.

But look out for those OP tee-shirts. Posers. Whole marketing companies full of them. These companies are easy to find online and actually offer their service for a reasonable price – if you consider dishonesty reasonable.

Often the truth is visible on slightly closer inspection. The shell accounts don't quite work. How are 127 people in California fans in this company with only east-coast clients? This is a mockery of social media. More importantly, it cannot last. The organic and uncontrollable seeking of the honest truth will not abide it for long. All of us are getting really good at looking closer. 

I'm looking for those OP tee-shirts. The posers grew up and founded marketing companies.




Mar 02, 2012 09:48 AM

Yes, I remember well the OP t's from our youth! Walk down memory lane.

Dec 15, 2011 04:34 PM

fantastic post, mark. social media is scary to so many because of its uncontrollable messaging. but this is, of course, what makes social media so believable and so valuable - not just for the marketer trying to gain market share over their competitors but for the user sniffing out the best buy, the most effective solution, the hotel that really is on the beach. thanks for sharing your thoughts.