Social media whithers on corporate branches

A blogger wonders why it is that corporations don’t get social media:

Most company blogs are dry and boring. Do these people even know what to do with social media or is the social media department handed over to people in a company that cannot be put to better use?

As a specific example, he cites Parametric Technology Corp:

For example, PTC came up with this thing called “Social Product Development” and decided to create a blog named Social Product Development written by senior executives. The last post is dated September 3, 2009.

Ironically enough, that final entry (written by one of PTC’s five — five! — official bloggers) is entitled, “A Community for All.” It sports four comments, two of which are from spammers — indicating that no one is watching this particular hen house.

Dry and Boring

It is entirely predictable that many (not all!) corporate blogs are “dry and boring.” Democratization (to employ that awful term Autodesk hasn’t stopped using yet) of specialties leads to the lowering of quality.

This was seen clearly when the National Hockey League expanded from 24 teams to 30. Suddenly, 132 more professional hockey players were needed. (There are 22 on a team — 4 lines of 5 players, plus the goalie and a spare goalie.) If the best 528 players in the world were already signed up, then adding 132 lessor players could only lower the quality of play. Which occurred.

Similarly, when the barriers to writing are low, much more bad writing appears, as those with no talent jump right in. (Witness the “penny dreadfuls” of 19th Century England.)

There the exceptions, of course. Lowered barriers allow people with talent to finally shine.

The marketing departments of corporations feel pressure to be up to date, to jump in, and then — for the most part — do a dreadful job. Those of us who write as a profession must write well to maintain our audience (and for some of us, our income). Corporate writing does not need to meet any standard of quality or quantity. Simply by existing, even dry social media is deemed a success by its attendant marketing department.

The good news: this too will fade, for the trend is sinusoidal. There used to be a lot of badly-made Web pages, before that, awfully-made newsletters. In the future, there will be new fingernails scratching our blackboards.

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