Social Media is a demanding master with the uncanny ability to determine the absence or presence of checks and balances. As a self correcting market, what you do not say can have a greater impact than what you do say.
Of Profit and Peril:
There are great perils in getting social media wrong and great profit from getting it right. Kids posting negative images can be haunted forever. Corporations hawking wares can erode their brand. Egocentrics touting their own magnificence can find themselves isolated. Yet every day, people are controversial, people are selling stuff, and there are is no shortage of egomaniacs in social media space – what are they doing right?
Corporations and individuals are finding out that the social media space requires a much larger degree of disclosure than traditional media simply because markets are most efficient in an environment of perfect information – that is, when the buyer and the seller have the exact same information as the other when negotiating a transaction. Only then can the magic of supply and demand arrive at one correct “valuation”.
By contrast, an inefficient market of imperfect information cannot arrive at a true price, rather, somewhere in a range of prices. This is defined as volatility. When the price is unknown, transactions fail to occur, and markets devalue. Volatility is the enemy.
As entrepreneurs have increasingly perfect access to information, it is no longer a successful dominant strategy for corporations to withhold information. The corporation no longer competes with their nearest competitor; they compete with perfect information in the reputation market. So what may seem like the wisdom dance of an enlightened industrial complex is really a shrewd and long overdue acknowledgment that perfect information is in the best interest of everyone.
Neighborhood watch organization:
The next step for Social Media will be the most powerful manifestation of perfect information ever to be crowd sourced; systems of checks and balances. Where checks and balances are in place, information improves. If not, information decays.
An easy way to determine the presence or absence of checks and balances is to remove one element form the relationship and see if the other two become disassociated. Inversely, one way to creating checks and balances is to associate two elements by means of a third:
1. Information, knowledge, and innovation; Without one, the other two have little value.
2. Social Capital, Creative Capital, and Intellectual Capital; Without one, the other two have little value.
3. Openness, communication, and accountability; Without one, the other two have little value.
4. Trust, self expression, and connections; Without one, the other two have little value.
Putting the System back into Social
The difference between success and failure depend your ability to systemize the social media presence. Sound confusing? It shouldn’t be. When you think about it, there rules are not much different between managing social media relationships and off-line personal and business relationships.