Gone are the days when your product would sink or swim based on brilliant packaging, placement and promotion. Here are the times when you must provide something of distinct value to start with, then tackle the challenge of convincing the world that the value is real. Marketing practices no longer peddle a product that scratches an itch; they present a collaborative approach to meeting people's needs.

Talk About Idealistic ...

Consider the impact of word-of-mouth on your company's reputation. Social media has, according to Sally Falkow of Meritus Media, increased the effect of it by tenfold, a statistic which is easy to believe.  The assertion is that doing otherwise would lead to imminent failure, because organizations are powerless against the momentum and reach of social media. The only valid response to this is to be an honest, open, transparent, helpful company with an excellent product. Be as reactive to your customers as you are proactive to potential concerns. Or die?

Does that not seem a little dreamy to any other realists (ok, cynics) out there? Do you still not encounter thriving companies who don't play the game? While many companies can recognize and pontificate on the common issues within their industry, do they not still seem to fall into the same exact traps? I mean, that's what makes them "common issues."

Are You Buying Into It?

We will all agree that the salesperson, as we remember him or her, is extinct. It's an antiquated (if not romanticized) notion of being slick enough to close the deal. "The deal" doesn't exist anymore either --we're selling real value and honest interaction now. We aren't in the business of persuasion. Or so the thought leaders at Social Media Intelligence Conference would like us to believe.

I believe we've been cornered and a bit bamboozled. We're forced to take more direct and immediate action to appease consumers, but we're also appeasing the industry that couriers those consumers to our doorstep. I've experienced enough ambivalent disregard for my appreciation from any given corporation to believe that statistically speaking, they still don't care about me. The odds that I'll be an influencer with enough reach to disrupt their good name in the media are slim. And should I turn out to be a fly in the ointment, they must either recognize the inevitability of that event or believe they can stunt it.

It seems to me that proactive authenticity is more of a pontification than a practice. What do you think? Does the transparency of Twitter and Facebook demand complete honesty from a corporation? Is there a noticeable trend towards equal engagement between you and the brands you buy into? Or is the social landscape just another place to be neglected, patronized and placated?