Yesterday we held the first of a monthly planned series of Power Talks taking place on the Social Media Today Page at Google+, and it rewarded us with some incredible insights. I hosted the session, which included guests Alex Coté and Steve Martin.

We intuitively all know we live in a period of constant disruption. We see it in the way we react to big brand advertising. It becomes obvious in the way marketing practices require adjustment. We notice it in the way selling is evolving. It makes itself felt in shorter and shorter cycles between product upgrades.

What we don’t usually see, however, is the reason behind all of this. We ascribe changes in big brand advertising to the tough economy and evolving marketing techniques to the constant need for change and short product cycles to bored consumers. But the underlying thread uniting all these usually eludes us because we’re too close to it.

Social media is changing everything. Consumers are now empowered, knowledgeable, mobile and vocal and every one of them matters equally. This has a level playing field in the balance of power between a company and its customer base. A single bad experience has the potential to derail an entire product line. “I am the CMO and I work at the Support Desk,” says Alex Coté, Cofounder and CMO of social contacts management app, Cloze and Circulate for companies. Alex’s point (and it is a valid one) is that the CMO (i.e. the people running the show) needs to know what’s happening on the ground, he needs to have a direct appreciation of his customers and their views and he needs to be amongst the people he leads. “We eat our own dog food, using the products we sell to manage our own lives,” says Alex who stresses that what is essentially a product that started with an algorithm, actually began by “putting people first”.

A similar sense of disruption is felt by the PR industry. Steve Martin is a Social Media Today contributor and PR expert and his very first assessment of Google+ resulted in a piece that practically wrote off the network. The comments there made Steve take another look and come back with a rebuttal to his first piece and an apology. What is key here is that just like Alex, Steve practices what he preaches: “The PR industry needs to stop being in broadcast mode and actually listen and respond.”

This is a very human reaction. As Steve pointed out during yesterday's #SMTPowerTalk Hangout-On-Air, the PR industry is, generally, reluctant to embrace social media because “we live in the age of authenticity. There is no spin any more. That’s not cut it.” The age of authenticity requires the listen and respond approach that helps establish a real dialogue and a human connection. Steve and Alex, as PR and Tech Industry insiders are at the very front of a wave the effects of which we all feel. The session was full of valuable insights and takeaways. Enjoy it.

Social Media Today Power Talk:   

We have two fantastic guests lined up for next month: marketing insiders who are both Social Media Today contributors (which is all the spoliers I am willing to give away at the moment). 

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