Best Buy Has Nothing to Cool Runnings

Best Buy has become the poster boy for Social Business.

They are named in virtually every post, every example, every conference, every event. They win awards, they are quoted by pundits, and their logo is a “must-have” for social vendors to place in their slide deck.

Is it deserved?

They are quite good at “doing social”.  I mean, come on – they have twitter, blogs, communities, and don’t forget the twelpforce.  They share willingly, they mea culpa when caught red-handed, and they seem to really be open and transparent. As much as @ComcastCares was the example for using Twitter for Customer Service, Best Buy has become the poster boy for Social Business.

They have done things well, no question about it, but you are better.  You can do better.  You have to do better.


Because they are not you.

Simple, if you wanted to deploy the same solution that Best Buy has in place you’d have to (at the very least):

  1. Have the same business model: multiple stores, inventory management, experienced and knowledgeable staff, a professional services force, similar infrastructure, and a management team that not only “gets it” but also embraces getting it and uses to further the business.
  2. Have the same goals and objectives: you would have to have baked in leveraging social into your business model, your business strategy, your goals, your compensation models, and your executive’s incentive plans
  3. Have the same social setup: you have to be able to listen, engage, and deliver across all social channels – even down to the most basic one: person-to-person communication in the store or anywhere else for that matter.
  4. Have the same culture and workforce: without the employees and the culture to support your business becoming social, it simply does not work.  Best Buy has been quoted as saying that this was a natural extension for their culture, their  way of working before.

I am not a gambling man (anymore – I moved from Nevada to California about 3 months ago, thankfully, so I can now write that sentence), but if I was I’d be willing to bet that you don’t have the exact same business model, infrastructure, culture, training plans, goals, strategy, people, and objectives.

Yours are going to be different, and your solution is going to be different.  Same as your Twitter solution was (is actually) different than Comcast’s.  Same way as your customer service is different from Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, and every one else.

You can listen to Best Buy talk about how they have a motto of being nice and human, or how they engage immediately with anyone. You can also listen to JetBlue admonish you about being open and honest, or to Southwest Air tell you that the secret is to engage everyone.  Comcast will tell you how Twitter helps them do Customer Service better.  All these stories are awesome.  And they became legends on their own good results.

They are all good – but they are not you.

You have to write your own social story.  Your social story is what is going to make you succeed.  It is going to be what your people will be able to repeat as your mantra, what will become your battle cry, and will guide your social results.  You have to write your own story, if you want to succeed.

The title of this post, however, is not about Best Buy – it is about you finding your own identity and building on it.

In the sappy movie “Cool Runnings” from Disney (it is about the Jamaican Bob Sledding team going to the Olympics) there’s a scene where one of the characters that has been obsessed by the efficiency of the Swiss Team tells his teammates how they should act more like the Swiss.  Their teammates complain about his obsession — look, here is the dialog, which as sappy as it is totally applies to all of us trying to get into Social Business (the movie is uploaded into YouTube in 10-15 minutes “chunks”, but this part of the movie is missing, sorry — yes, I made the sacrifice of watching it just for you, my loyal readers — you are welcome):

Derice: You know, when the Swiss want to ge….[Team groans]
Sanka: Ah, will you shut up about the damn Swiss! I mean, it was all that eins zwei drei nonsense that got us all nervous in the first place.
Derice: Hey man, look here, I’m just trying to get us off on the right foot.
Sanka: Well the right foot for us is not the Swiss foot. I mean come on Derice, we can’t be copying nobody else’s style. We have our own style.
Derice: Kissing an egg is no kind of style. It’s the Olympics here, it’s no stupid push-cart derby. [Long pause]
Sanka: Let me tell you something rasta, I didn’t come up here to forget who I am and where I come from.
Derice: Neither did I, I’m just trying to be the best I can be.
Sanka: So am I, and the best I can be is Jamaican. Look, Derice…I’ve known you since Julie Jeffreys asked to see your ding-a-ling and I’m telling you as a friend if we look Jamaican, walk Jamaican, talk Jamaican and IS Jamaican, then we sure as hell better bobsled Jamaican.

Don’t be Swiss, be Jamaican in your Social Endeavors.

What do you think? Would it work for you?

6 Replies to “Best Buy Has Nothing to Cool Runnings”

    1. John,

      As always – insightful. And correct.

      I used best buy as an example since they are the darling of the day for social media/social crm/social business example. I don’t think you want to emulate them, I actually am not even sure that what they do goes beyond Social PR (as defined by good friend Brent Leary in a recent post). Yes, I know I am going to get the wrath of their people telling me how good they are – but I will use the link you pointed below — how can you be so good at one channel (social) to engage people and still be voted among the worse in class for overall service? Comcast has a similar problem. They simply see the social channel as a clean slate, with no history that people can point to, and can use it to overcome complaints about other channels, saying that they are revamping their overall, starting with the new.

      My point in this post was merely to highlight that any organization looking to start on Social x should (after dropping the social from the name of the project) look for their own style, not copying what others have done.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading, much appreciated.


  1. Find your own identity and build on it – spot on. Not only should your social media strategy align to your brand promise (read: identity), but your overarching customer experience strategy should as well. All too often we’ve seen organizations deploy precious resources on “point solutions” that do not align to the organizations corporate strategy thus leaving the customer/prospect confused, angry or both. For instance, if you’re a low cost leader then deliver experience that supports that. After all, would you expect to see a grand piano at the entrance of a Wal-Mart? Sanka knew what Team Jamaica’s core strategy was – do you know what yours is?



    1. Great, great analogy – I would expect a Piano in Nordstrom, not at Walmart — actually, if i see it at Walmart i’d be suspicious.

      Excellent point, thanks for making it! and thanks for the read.


  2. Love the post. And I’ll claim it’s the same “we want to be like Amazon’ mentality we saw in the dot-com boom. Many followers chasing a few leaders. But as you point out, every business is different. The good news I suppose is that I actually think many organizations ARE finding their own identify, at least in the marketing area, when it comes to social. Of course whether marketing is the right beachhead for social business (I think it is, as I claimed in my last post for Social Times), or not, is still open to discussion!

    Speaking of marketing, did you see the related post by Kerry Bodine at Forrester – For The Love Of God, Will Everyone Please Stop Copying Apple? ( Really good read that ends with similar advice: be your own brand!



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