Argenti’s unintentional primer: Why business needs to engage in social media

Big business is in trouble. Shel Holtz argues that at least part of the reason the public so deeply distrusts large corporations lies in their communication style: one-way, top-down, command and control. So why don’t business leaders at least consider social media models: conversation, dialogue, treating customers and employees as equals?


Paul Argenti’s excellent keynote talk at the IABC Research Foundation luncheon today included a few references to social media, but mainly these addressed the impact of social media on public perceptions of organizations. When he spoke about corporate communication, he spoke specifically about an organization’s efforts to communicate to constituencies, never about communicating with them. I don’t have a huge problem with this; after all, an organization’s use of social media should augment, not replace, conventional communication. Each channel should be employed based on its strength.

Nevertheless, the bulk of Argenti’s talk could serve as a primer to explain to executives why their organizations should embrace social media.

Argenti, who has taught management and corporate communication at Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, Dartmouth, the International University of Japan, and several others, is also an author and consultant. He’s also (wisely) fixated on research and measurement, which means he offered numbers to support his assertions. I’ll summarize and add my own comments about the connection between Argenti’s remarks and the case for social media.

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