We have all heard of the sayings “Kill Them With Kindness” and “Kill Them With Laughter”, but what about “Kill Them with Information”.   That is the concept behind Lethal Generosity, first coined by social media pioneer Shel Israel in 2008.  Lethal Generosity purports that the people and companies who are most generous in social media companies are also the most influential.  And those who just promote their self-serving agenda very often fail.  By being more generous to customers (e.g. posting the most tips, links, advice, case studies, best practices that followers find useful) than their competitors, a company can essentially eclipse them in the eyes of people who would buy or recommend their products or services.

Generosity Image Hands_Money

With the proliferation of media channels and content providers, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to cut through the clutter, grab the attention of their target audience and communicate the value proposition of their products and/or services.  The effectiveness of traditional TV, radio and print communication has diminished, and been supplanted by internet and the ubiquitous nature of social media.  It is no longer enough to tell people about your products/services, companies must be seen as genuine, credible and authoritative in their area(s) of expertise.

By freely giving away their expertise and educating customers, companies can be positioned as the leading expert in an industry.  This in turn can help solidify the relationship between brand and consumer, and make it exceedingly difficult for any other product, or competitive service to displace this bond.

An example of Lethal Generosity can be seen through a data storage community set up by Hitachi Data Systems as a wiki that became very active.  Interestingly, the site was not branded as an HDS wiki, but rather opened up to the entire data storage community including other vendors, as well as customers, analysts, press and the like. Out of this anonymous act of generosity came a fascinating, but unsurprising development, the community recognized HDS’ contribution and the motives behind it and started calling the site “the HDS wiki”.  The end result was that HDS was seen as the thought leader and in Shel Israel’s words: “Every time a competitor joined into the wiki conversation, it re-enforced Hitachi’s leadership.” If they did not join, the competitor was visibly boycotting a place customers found valuable.

“In social media, the best way to beat the competition is to be more generous with anything that your customer values and keep their agenda at the heart of everything your company does online.” – Stan Woods

Keep Killing Them With Lethal Generosity!

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3 Comments

  1. Ray and Team — Excellent attention grabbing headline, terrific thought-provoking closer — very much agree with the sentiment expressed in your post — it seems the one sure-fire way to break through in today’s cluttered, noisy environment of messages, gimmicks, comparisons and deals is to be over-generous and genuinely GOOD — authenticity it seems is becoming a lost art.

  2. I agree with Anna Ray, I really like the title. I also appreciate the quote at the end of your blog. I believe that quote alone really summarizes the entire idea of your blog. Also, the quote holds true to me.

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