Could your brand be heading for a social crash?


I spent a few hours last night being inspired by Malcolm Gladwell who was speaking on a tour for his new book Outliers.  As is usually the case I interpreted everything I heard through my topical filter – which is basically the premise of what ever project I am working on at that time!   That premise was social media and how as social media experts we can help companies build and maintain social brands for success.

Outliers is a word he uses to describe something or someone that has achieved out of the ordinary success (or failure) and the book attempts to explore the factors that contribute to this. The story he used was one about plane crashes and he focused on why airlines in Columbia had experienced more than their fair share.  

Using the transcripts from one particular planes black box he illustrated that the crash was mainly due to:

1. A breakdown in communications where the co-pilot failed to bring the right information to anyones attention

2. A lack of honesty in communication, for the linguistics out there this was about mitigation

3. The dynamics of communication common to a group of people, in this case Columbia. (here he referenced Hofstede’s study into the cultural power distance index of Columbia – for more on that see here )  

4. The small often trivial events that go un-noticed or un-noted that eventually amount to a much more significant event.  (he used a different example here too – )

He concluded that the plane crash was not a technical error but a social error.  This was a social crash.

I wonder, how many brands or companies know they are heading for their own social crash? 

Are the cultural frameworks within companies or the communities with which they engage, helping or hindering social success? Are companies really aware of the small trivial events occurring out there in communities and conversations that could eventually lead to a social crash? 

Interesting stuff.   I am off to buy the book and read some more…..

Photo thanks -


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