The Data Age

Big Data and Living in an Age of Data

The Data Age - Big Data and Living in an Age of Data

Most Companies Have Social Media All Wrong


On my recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I took the time to unplug from technology. Essentially it was like going back to 1990 (I first got online in 1991). I spent 10 days without cellphones or Internet access. And one of the things I took away from this experience is that social media is something most companies have all wrong.

Social media is something that I often feel companies get wrong, mainly because of how the conversation goes. Executives act as if it is some kind of new thing that they need to hire some young college hipster kid to do. Because social is “new” and foreign to the old way of doing business. But social isn’t new, it’s as old as civilization and if you don’t understand social, then what are you doing in a leadership role? Let me explain in more detail.

I spent my time in the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata was home base for me and I would spend my nights there but my day was spent in the countryside. My US based cellphone didn’t work in the DR and the local cellphone I had didn’t work in the country. And you can forget internet access as well, that wasn’t even an option. So I decided I would just totally unplug. It is rare that I will unplug totally so this was a new experience.

As I went into the country and visited small villages, people would already know of my coming. They didn’t have any technology to communicate, no twitter, fb or even texting. They would communicate from person to person, or in other words, they had a social media network of their own that didn’t use technology, because simple face to face word of mouth. Their social media network was just as good as FB or twitter, information spread faster than I could jump from one town to the other. And that’s when it hit me; most companies have social media all wrong.

Social media really isn’t about the technology and a lot of companies seem to forget that it is still a human interaction that is taking place. If you focus on likes and tweets, you lose what social is really all about. All too often when I talk to companies, they have gotten lost in the technology and forgotten what it really is about, interaction! You don’t need a kid fresh out of college to show you social, if you don’t know how to interact, then what are you doing in business?

Social is as old as civilization itself. Stuff about tweets and likes is the nonsense that social media consultants try and sell you to convince you that social media is about that, it’s not. Social is about human interaction and having a conversation with people. Seriously, social is nothing new and if these guys out in the middle of the countryside of a developing country and figure it out, there isn’t any reason why businesses in developed nations can’t figure it out.



Byline: Edward Chenard is an expert in big data and personalization. If you would like to contact him, reach out to

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