When you have a company that runs 33,000 restaurants in 119 countries around the globe, some of which are franchises and you have had the dubious distinction of having your company associated with low-paying, dead-end jobs you know that half-measures and poor communication is only going to produce obituaries in the business pages of The Times.
My book on Social Media started with an introduction about being happy, or rather an instance where I discovered happiness, by accident, at a lecture in Miami. How I got there and why is a long story involving martial arts, publicity and a lucrative contract but what really struck me as I recalled the moment, was the rarity of it in life which basically got the whole ball rolling.
The world of tech is littered with examples of companies whose ‘surprise’ acquisition move proved to be their swan song. Current examples include Yahoo! buying Broadcast.com for $6 billion in 1999 and MySpace acquiring Photobucket for $300 million in 2007. To that august list we might now have to add the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook for $1 billion.
You think that being in business is really tough. The markets always fluctuate, your competitors are unrelenting, customers are always fickle and the sheer grind of keeping going, day after day, week after week, just wears you down. You lose the will to do it and then all that keeps you going is the fact that you have nowhere else to go.
“Social Media is going to transform everything,” “It is the magic sauce that changes every situation”, “Social media is the empowerment of the individual at the expense of the corporation”, “Social Media is a challenge.” Stop me if you have never heard any of this before. My own book on the subject used at least one of these phrases, but what do they really mean? Or better still how do they exactly work? Why is social media empowering? How does it become a power for transformation? Why is it a challenge?
Not too long ago I wrote a post about evil and our perception of it particularly when it comes to labelling corporations as such. It elicited a much more involved discussion on Google Plus with three separate reshares one of which created a thread of over 100 comments and grew to a few thousand words long.
There is a sense of democracy at work in social media which is hard to refute. When you have a level platform of almost infinite proportions with equal access for all, there is a sense that what gets you noticed is exactly that which makes you who you are.
Back in 1975 an orange-clad, roller skating James Kahn became the icon of subversive sub-culture as Jonathan E. in Rollerball, a corporate high-stakes contact game where teams outlived their players. In 1975 the future appeared to belong to corporations and Rollerball’s singular message was that “no one is greater than the team”, a point driven home by the high death toll and the conspiracy to kill Jonathan E., a player who is so phenomenally good that he threatens to subvert the game’s raison d'etre.