Interactive Marketing Strategist – George Benckenstein Interactive Marketing Strategist & Flat World Evangelist musing about how digital is changing the paradigm of human culture.


Social Media vs Institutions

So you think you've heard every perspective there is about social media and why companies should take notice? Think again. What I hope you understand after reading this is the true importance of social media and why most companies don't have a clue as to what it means for their business, customers, employees and their competitors.

Do You Deliver A Superior Customer Experience?

The answer would be NO.  Chances are your company is NOT delivering a superior customer experience.  So is this what's important about social media?  The answer is... Partially. 

Now take a moment to consider just what comes between a traditional institution or organization and its customers.  You have a business with all the internal barriers that exists in all companies.  Now you have traditional media to communicate with your customers.  You rely on interruptions and disruptions to message to your clients and potential customers.

Is it any wonder businesses are disconnected from their customers and their experiences?

So What The Hell Does This Have To Do With Social Media?

Social media, or let's say the platforms created to support it, have created a slight paradigm shift (well maybe a bit more than slight).  In order to understand the enormity of this shift, you have to start looking at this phenomena a little differently -- from a holistic point of view.  This new dynamic has created an environment where communication, collaboration and coordination exist without barriers.  It gives power to individuals to compete with institutions at a level unprecedented.  Institutional containment as we know it does not exist.  Market barriers no longer exist as we know it.  Let's think about social media thru another lens.  Let's look at it around "coordinating effort" or, from the basis any institution is created which is, getting things done:

Traditional Coordination

Flat World Coordination

This Is What's Important About Social Media

Institutions and organizations are wondering what to do about social media.  Policies are being written, consultants are being brought in to figure out how it can be used as a marketing channel.  Companies are missing what's really important about social media and the platforms that support it -- and here it is.

Cooperation cost is the economic burden of coordinating effort.  Traditionally, the solution for coordinating effort was to create an institution.  More recently, since the cost for people to communicate with each other has fallen thru the floor, many are rethinking the system in which people communicate, collaborate and coordinate.  A great example of this is found on social networking platforms -- platforms where coordination and communication are designed into the system.  Systems that allow group output without regard to traditional institutional models.

Looking At Things In New Ways Is Hard To Do

So what does this mean for the traditional institutional model?  It means that business leaders have to get comfortable with reviewing something very core -- their original purpose -- their existence.  In the end, I really think there are only 2 choices:

  1. Embrace and leverage communication, collaboration and coordination platforms.  Institutions and individuals alike all have access to a world of new opportunities.  This is difficult because it requires us to forget what we think we know and look at our circumstance dispassionatly and objectively.  It will also require us all to get involved and learn.  You can't fake this :)
  2. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  You might make the connection to the Kübler-Ross model's 5 discrete stages of how people come to terms with dying.  This is how many institutions and organizations will come to terms with these new, communication, collaboration and coordination platforms.

So here we are.  This is happening.  The ultimate importance of the web is coming to fruition.  It's the ultimate communication platform.  It gives institutions the power to outdistance their competition by breaking down communication barriers between their employees, their customers and their suppliers.  We all have the power to create personal networks to coordinate effort and accomplish anything.  Thomas Friedman said "what can be done, will be done."  There is nothing standing in our way.  Let's get busy getting things done :)

Comments (14) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Great job! This is exactly the opportunity most large companies continue to miss. Keep up the good work.

  2. George, this is Wonderful. Right to the point and so clearly explained that the best compliment I can give you is: do more of these, this is great.

    I would love to have your permission republish this very article on with full credit and link back to your original. This is too good not to want to pass it on to more people. Since part of my job is to select the very best that is out there to help MasterNewMedia readers understand the change happening under their noses, this represents one of those rare articles that speaks clearly and to everyone. Bravo.

    • Hi Robin,Thanks for the Kudos! Please feel free to republish with credit. This is a new blog I have just started and have had some great feedback after just 4 posts. I appreciate your interest and wish you the very best.

  3. Thank you George! More than happy to satisfy your request and very thankful for your kind permission.

  4. I appreciate the focus and clarity of this post. The content and the presentation are excellent. I'm new to blogging and will be using your blog to set some aspirations.

  5. George

    This is one the clearest explanation of the challenge business faces to understand the value of social media I have read. The illustration are superb. I have spent the last two years researching this very challenge from a leadership point of view which I had tried to articulate in my first book the connected leader where I make the case that leaders should connect to the network in order to delver formal objectives. This new research for my forthcoming book Leadershift – reinventing leadership for the age of mass collaboration indicates that most of the leadership tactics we use add to rather than remove the institutional friction you identified

  6. Thanks everyone. Your comments and emails are much appreciated B)

  7. [seesmic g9d2tYTkmm|xCZdsqGipk_th1.jpg seesmic]

  8. It's always interesting to hear how we all collectively are experiencing the same hurtles right now. Thanks for the great video post.

  9. A good, simple and straight to the point explanation. I think you could make it even better if you mention the importance of real time communication.

  10. Outstanding! I’ve bookmarked your blog and look forward to reading/learning more!

  11. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed

    to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this site with my Facebook group.

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  12. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. All the best

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