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Alan -

As I was reading your comment, I thought of its application to the relationships we have inside organizations as well. It is much harder to want to be talking with and serving customers when a culture is one of "each person is out for themselves", "it's all about XXX person," etc.

Maybe content can help in starting to open up to the outside world. Sharing actual information, tips, ideas. That might also turn the social media tools into a vehicle to deliver value.

Customer service has to become something you need/want to do rather than something you have to do.

The impetus for this is likely going to come from one's competitors doing better because of this, rather than because it's a core belief of the company. That will come in time, but I suspect most companies will be dragged into this kicking and screaming. Transparency is not a core belief of corporate America.

The other thing I'd add, is, as I wrote in Your Brand Is Not My Friend, there are many brands whose customers really have no strong desire to interact with them unless there is a problem. So the trick there is turning the blog/social media device into something other than a complaint forum. That's something that will require some forethought from the company and their external social media advisors.

Graham Knox's vineyard is quite distinct from the Stormhoek brand that Jason Korman built using Hugh MacLeod's online savvy. Stormhoek the brand is pretty much dead. Without a constant hype from MacLeod, without a constant input of his social capital, there's pretty much no place for a supermarket-shelf, screw-top, commodity wine to go, and the distributors have pretty much underscored that they don't care whose fermented grapes they bottle.

Knox, on the other hand, seems to have a pretty decent sense of the conversation. The failed Stormhoek blog you linked to went under at the same time the brand was devalued by the business failure of Korman and MacLeod. The real Stormhoek blog in South Africa keeps the conversation alive and, I think, is aiming at educating its customers about the differences among wine qualities. where the grapes are grown, and how the crop is handled and bottled. The REAL Stormhoek blog is here:

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