Is Social Media Creating a Wholesale Culture?

White_Tshirt You know, thinking in bulk. I did an experiment yesterday.

With the help of a couple of search engines I ran a search for white t-shirts. This should be a fairly common item. My criteria where — 100% cotton, fitted style for women and flattering shape for men. I'm Italian, I cannot help looking for style.

Even that should be a fairly standard request.

And yet, I spent hours discarding the boxy stuff, trying to get out of sites that would keep loading instead of getting me back to search, and scrolling through pages of unhelpful sites. If you're a Web architect or a designer, you have a job for life — so much to fix online.

Something that at first felt quite common ended up not being that common, after all.

What happened? I applied my filters — taste, experience, current use, vision for the future. And so on. This is not different from what organizations are trying to do when looking for either an internal staff or an agency that will help them with social media — or marketing, or communications, etc.

They get the word out — the infamous RFP — or post a job opening — the infamous for hire listing — and then sit back and wait. All the while complaining about the lack of matching search results. Why is that? I have a theory. It's called the "everything and the kitchen sink" request.

You end up paying more for those.

I've been online a long time. And I make it a priority to meet people face to face, and work with them when I get the chance. The current search methods are pulling up results that on the surface seem the same — however they end up being quite diverse when utilized.

Leaving teams and organizations worse for the wear. Results do matter.

It seems to me that what gets encouraged and bubbled up in social networks is often the more familiar — and thus comfortable — content and experience(s). Thus the unexpressed lust for sinking your teeth into something more, dare I say, satisfying, because meaningful.

Are you impatient with qualifying "it depends" responses?

This is the wrong use of our cognitive surplus if I ever saw one. Even worse than watching TV. Because in social networks there is activity. Things are passed along, shared, and multiplied — "me too" is the threshold for acceptance. Fitting in or being an outcast are not the only two options.

What gets rewarded in a broad context such as that is seldom what we need to grow. As people, as an industry, as businesses, etc. We need more balance between getting things done and leading — or we end up doing the wrong things.

I'm in favor of just right. Of applying the appropriate amount of thinking and doing to problems — so you can solve the very specific one that helps a very specific customer base and organization. Strategy is not a bad word, it's a misunderstood activity and a misapplied idea… or title.

Planning needs the correct motivation to take you from where you are to where you want to be.

We need more education as to why it's important to ask why more, to push back on the accepted lore. Wholesale thinking works for average people — I have yet to meet one of those. As with my t-shirt search, there are invisible filters that govern our choices, skillsets, experience, work ethics, and so on.

When we make those more visible to ourselves, we're able to refine our search to what ultimately matters — a match or a decision. The one we can live with better. Clarity is the first step in defining needs, so we can apply the correct intensity to the problem.

Honesty and depth matter to critical thinking. They are hard to embrace. I'm in defense of hard.

Is social media creating a wholesale culture?


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0 responses to “Is Social Media Creating a Wholesale Culture?”

  1. I agree with everything, but the experiment that got you there.
    White Tees are a commodity, and Websites aren’t used to sell commodities, because there is too much noise in the marketplace.
    The people making money selling white tees are likely doing it as a B-to-B provider, or are succeeding at a retail level. They are dealing with economies of scale that make it impractical to seek out “onesies and twosies.” You’re not finding them because they aren’t trying to be found.
    Back to the main point, I find it funny that companies trying to fill positions roll out a set of “job requirements” that not only are impossible to meet given the relative newness of the technologies, but rely on psychological attributes that are most often exclusive.
    “WANTED: Deeply creative artist, self-starter, who functions within teams and always makes deadline.”

  2. thank you for calling me on the tee example. I didn’t drive it home. No two white tees are the same, because the one for you depends on your culture, taste, use, needs, etc. A stretch, so maybe not 100% cotton 😉
    Companies are trying to get generic people so they can “mold” them, swap them, and replace them as needed to be more efficient. That’s an industrial age remnant: people as resources to be mined, now either individually or collectively, vs. renewed.
    You’ve got the same effect with thinking in social networks.

  3. I think you need to include that distinction in the original article, it really drives it home.
    There is a lot to be said for creating and carving out a niche to serve, taking it further, polarising the customers who are not a good fit for our unique services and skillsets.

  4. Although white T’s may be a commodity your point is well founded. I often cannot find what I’m looking for when I get specific – and have specific requirements or ‘wants’. There’s just so much mediocrity out there – and lack of attention to craft. I think it goes into companies caring about the customer experience to design a better search / shopping experience. More and more I think the opportunity is in serving niche markets extremely well.
    The other aspect I think is inherent laziness on the part of marketers – and companies. They want the sale – more of them – and faster. And don’t want to take the time because designing the best experiences is hard work filled with many intangibles. . .
    I look forward to your premium newsletter!

  5. good enough seems to be the norm and business model. Yet, if you look at trend reports and deeper into the pockets of those who managed to make money even during the recession, they solve a very specific problem, appeal to a very specific audience, they polarize. Think about Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters — they keep growing, yet they are not trying to be the mediocre middle.
    Marketers better start hustling upstream — and organizations better hire those who can understand how to help the business tie its revenue to the bottom line without just shaving costs by hiring cheaper people.
    I better get my act together on the newsletter 🙂

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