Companies Are Not Your Friends

If you hang about on any of the social network­ing sites, you will of course have noticed that more and more compa­nies are join­ing you there. The advan­tages to them are obvi­ous. It’s another way to promote their brand and try to convert you into a customer. But now more than ever it’s impor­tant remem­ber that compa­nies are not your friends.

The nature of social networks means that compa­nies now have to inter­act directly with you. While this is a rela­tively new thing for the big brands, comic book compa­nies amongst others have done this for years nurtur­ing fans at conven­tions. Giving people a glimpse behind the curtain makes them feel a sense of owner­ship which of course encour­ages them to keep buying.

The Apple logo in 1976 created by Rob Janoff w...
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When people feel this sort of connec­tion with a company their deci­sions are based at least partially on emotion rather than facts. They’re also likely to go to surpris­ing lengths to promote the company for free, both online and amongst their family and colleagues.

In some cases, people have formed this sort of connec­tion with a company even when it doesn’t embrace the social media. Apple is perhaps the most obvi­ous exam­ple of this. Owning a Mac has taken on a cultural signif­i­cance far beyond the qual­i­ties of either the hard­ware or soft­ware under discus­sion.

All this loyalty and enthu­si­asm is of course wonder­ful for the compa­nies involved. It’s the sort of promo­tion that money can’t buy. A free sales force and PR team rolled into one, and an audi­ence that is primed to buy what­ever they are offer­ing.

An obvi­ous exten­sion of this for compa­nies has been to set up Face­book pages and Twit­ter accounts to “inter­act” more directly with their customers. Don’t mistake this for real inter­ac­tion however. This is a care­fully controlled and directed PR exer­cise using employ­ees paid to do customer rela­tions work. They’re not there out of love. Just to be clear, there are enthu­si­as­tic employ­ees for many compa­nies actively involved in social media. But they do it on their own time and not via company spon­sored accounts.

So why am I dron­ing on about things that seem perfectly obvi­ous to you? Because I guar­an­tee you are affected by this too. For me it seems to be Google. For no goodrea­son that I can give you, I find myself hoping for Google to win in battles that I’m not even involved in. This is utterly irra­tional. I have no vested inter­est in Google. I don’t work for them, I don’t have friends who work for them and I don’t own any shares. I’ve assigned a person­al­ity to a company and decided that that person­al­ity meshes with my own.

Google is not my friend. Apple is not my friend. Marvel and DC are not my friends. They are compa­nies. They don’t have a person­al­ity and their sole func­tion is to earn money. The deci­sions made by the people running these compa­nies are made with the aim of earn­ing money, not making me feel warm and fuzzy.

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?