Like any tech niche, social media is filled with buzz words, few of which are adequately defined. Like "transparent." All the consultants say you need to be transparent, which is supposed to be a synonym for truth. But as Pilate asked, "What is truth?"
Then this week, was a flood of revelational posts. Robert Scoble talked about the death of start-up launches in the context of the uselessness of start-up events, like Demo where they charge you $18K to participate and strictly control the flow of information... and how a good launch should be done. Harry Gries did a piece on how important it is for a start-up to focus on why they exist, not what they make. And finally, the redoubtable David Scott Meerman chimed in with a piece on solving a problem rather than discussing a product, essentially confirming Harry's two bits.
In all of this information, I was having live conversations with technologists and marketers in they highly technical niche of EDA over the weekend about the nature of marketing communications in their industry and the consensus was that no one could really describe the real problem they were solving, why they existed or think beyond what their product was. Communication content consisted of, primarily, hiding the fact that the market was flat, their customer base was miniscule, they had no plan for profitability or even a clue as to an exit strategy. These are not my words, but people currently in the industry, talking about their own companies and companies they were formerly associated with.
The lack of tranparency, or freedom from pretense and guile as Webster's puts it, is not the problem here, it's the symptom. The problem is whether someone can believe in the source. And in all of this I came up with a new buzz word for social media communications.
Here's the thing. Everything you can say can be easily proven or destroyed by information easily available on the web in general. With social media, anything you say can be bolstered or dissed by a potential customer's own social network. Therefore, you better be ready to prove anything you say, or at least provide a means for a third-party to corroborate your story. If you say, your product can reduce costs, you better be able to show how, not just say it.
That's the one thing the traditional press used to be able to do for us, but they no longer have the resources to do it and they haven't had it for a decade, which means they probably never will again. It's up to you to show your work and be ready for it to be picked apart...because it already is being picked apart.
Remember: Be Verifiable.