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Tim Peter

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September 19, 2011

Does social media stop you from lying to your customers?

September 19, 2011 | By | No Comments

Über-marketer Seth Godin’s most famous books is called, famously, All Marketers are Liars Tell Stories: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works. Actually, I’m not sure what the title is these days. It used to be called “All Marketers are Liars” without the strikethrough. Because, as Godin said in the original introduction,

“No one would hate a book called All Marketers Are Storytellers. No one would disagree with it. No one would challenge me on it. No one would talk about it.”

In the new introduction, he says instead,

“The thing is, lying doesn’t pay off any more. That’s because when you fabricate a story that just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, you get caught. Fast.”

As with many things marketing-related, Seth is very, very right.

For instance, TripAdvisor, the hotel and restaurant review giant, just changed its slogan in the UK from “Reviews you can trust” to “Reviews from our community” due to complaints that some have gamed the system. They’re also under investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency:

“…after an online reputation management company alleged the claims that posts were by ‘real travellers’ could not be proven.”

For many in the hotel industry, this is not news. (Full disclosure: I have a number of clients in the hotel space).

Now, I’m not claiming TripAdvisor is lying. But they’re not the first company who’s getting called out by folks in the social space for making claims and failing to fully back them up. ConAgra Foods just pissed off a bunch of food bloggers by serving them frozen meals instead of promised celebrity chef-prepared entrees. Um… oops.

When we were little kids, we didn’t lie. We didn’t dare. Why not? Because we all knew our kid brother or sister would rat us out to Mom and Dad.

Funny how things continue to work that way, huh?

Now, as mentioned above, good marketers tell good stories. And you should absolutely continue to do that. One of the great things about social, is if you do it really well, your customers will tell those stories on your behalf. Just make sure the facts support your story. Because, in the social world, you can be a great storyteller. You just can’t be a liar.


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