While our CEO Chris Dessi was on a run one day he was listening to an audio-book titled Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – Narrated by Patrick Egan . In it the author shared a story of the Selective Attention Test conducted in 1999 by Simons and Chabris.  In the experiment (which you can view here) – or view the video embedded in this post –  participants were asked to count how many times individuals in the experiment who were wearing white passed a basketball. They were then presented with six individuals (three in white, and three in black tee-shirts) zig zagging around slowly passing the ball to each other. This is a difficult task that takes a great deal of concentration.  At the end of the task the people observing the zig zagging participants are asked how many times they saw those in white pass the ball (the correct answer is 15). They were then asked if they saw the gorilla?

What? A gorilla? Yes, a gorilla.

In the middle of the experiment (while the participants were heavily focused on those three participants in white shirts) a person dressed in a black gorilla suit walked into the frame amid the participants, pounded it’s chest and then walked off unnoticed.

So what does this have to do with social media and our company name?

Brands are so heavily focused on defining their social media strategy via external social media networks, consultants and technology that they have lost site that their social media strategy is an INTERNAL event, and cannot be defined by looking outward. Brands are blind.  And effectively blind to their blindness.    

Brands are counting the basketball passes and they are missing the gorilla in the room.

Social media consultants, technologists and essentially anyone in a position to make money from these brands in their quest to count the basketballs are dropping the proverbial ball.  We should know better. We should help brands to see the gorilla.  We need to help them see that their social media strategy cannot come from us alone. They must define their social media strategy internally.  Social strategy comes from the culture of your company, the products you make, the feeling people have when they engage with your company your products or your services.

Our culture is defined by helping brands to become aware of the gorilla in the room, and address their culture, engage in social media and excel.  So we named our company after the most majestic of animals – the Silverback Gorilla.

Now what?

Start with an introspective view before you engage in social media. While it’s certainly OK to jump in and start to engage in social media, you’ll be better served to slow down.  Start with why your brand exists (that’s another book we love).  Understand why your brand is here, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and the social ecosystem will rise up to you. It may tell you that every social media outlet won’t work. It may tell you that you need technology to support your social endeavors. Or it may tell you that you need to hire a strategist like myself.  Either way, you’ll be on the right path.