Companies may be excited about using the tools and customs of online friendship to sell their wares, but all I see is a strategy that has failure built into it.
If the underpinning for a social interaction is the sale of a good or service in the pursuit of profit for one of those in the conversation, the exchange will never be anything more than a business interaction, no matter what you call it, no matter how good you may state your intentions to be, no matter how many trendy Web sites you enlist in your chat, and no matter how many times a company points someone toward cool consumer goods that happen to not be produced by that company.
A business will never be my friend and any advice it dispenses will always be suspect because its ultimate goal is to remove the money from my pocket.
That’s not to say that’s a dishonorable goal; it’s what businesses are set up to do. I’m just saying don’t pretend to be trying to hold my hand when you really want to be holding my wallet.
If companies want to really help, stop trying to convince me of the coolness of any product. Try giving me facts. Get crazy! Examples? J. Crew, break down the cost of your shirt. How many miles was it shipped? Where and how was the cotton grown? Get insane: How much profit do you make on each button-up? How do you invest it? If a similar shirt is 50 percent cheaper, tell me why.
Yeah, doubt that will happen. But that kind of transparency might actually win buyers over.