Yesterday I had lunch with a couple of friends that work at two of the world’s largest tech companies. The discussion turned to how their companies are using social media channels to reach their customers and community leaders. They asked me what I like and dislike about how companies reach out to me, other contributors and customers in general. We didn’t have time to discuss specific examples, so I decided to write this blog post instead.
Too often, it’s clear company reps are being held back by their PR/legal departments from saying what they’re really thinking. Too often, these extremes translate over to the web and we’re treated to corporate blogs, Tweets and Facebook updates that look like they are a result of a press release mating with a law dictionary.
But then there’s this guy. His name is Scott Jordan and he’s the CEO of ScottEVest. What’s different about Scott? He doesn’t take himself too seriously, speaks his mind and makes better use of social media than most PR and marketing pros. Yes, he’s promoting his products, but he’s genuinely involved in the community he’s trying to reach. He solicits advice from the tech community on Twitter and on Facebook. He posts videos without editing them or sending them off to legal for review. Most importantly, he’s himself. For CES 2010 he sponsored GBM and Noteoboks.com by giving us gear to use during the conference and to give away to our readers. When he heard that we’d teamed up with a bunch of other tech blogs to raise money for the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund, he donated $2,500 to the cause.
And today he teased a promo video on Facebook, that supposedly has an interesting backstory.
Another techie that breaks the typical tech company spokesperson mold is Rahul Sood of HP. Even though he holds a CTO title he manages to act much more like himself than than most reps we interact with. Instead of waiting for an official company event to talk about an HP event, he’ll take questions from WebOS fans and answer them in a Podcast. Once in a while I talk to him via Skype video chat and he’ll show me what he’s working on. He writes on HP’s Next Bench blog, but also runs a personal blog where he writes about technology, love of cars and other random thoughts. He doesn’t mind mentioning, sometimes even praising, his company’s competition. Most company tech reps won’t even mutter their competitions’ product names.
I think we all appreciate it when product managers and execs let their hair down and act more human. If you’re looking to connect with bloggers and, more importantly, your customers, then it’s important to just be yourself. It has a much higher impact than polished talking points and slick marketing material.
I’m sure a lot of GBM readers have their own favorite tech company reps that they follow by following them on Twitter, reading their blogs and liking their products on Facebook. Who do you think is reaching out to the geek community the right way?