Socially Phobic? What would YOUR Agora say?

Debra Pickett is president of Page 2 Communications (  A former newspaper columnist and television commentator, Pickett offers consulting and training to law firms and lawyers who deal with the media.  Reach her at

Six LCD screens dominate the reception area of mobile phone maker Nokia’s corporate headquarters in Finland.  They call it “Agora, after the Greek meeting place where people came together to discuss things and learn from each other,” according to Tom Libretto, VP consumer engagement for Nokia, quoted here.

The screens feature web and social media content produced by Nokia — and its customers, fans and critics.  It’s unfiltered and posted in (almost) real time so that employees from all around the company can see exactly what people are thinking and saying about their products — a great reminder of how their work translates into real world, real life experiences.

So, imagine, for a moment, that you have an Agora system.

OK, maybe your firm isn’t a brand with worldwide recognition.  And, yes, yes, OK, maybe your “lobby” would be a little cramped with six big screens, at least some of which would be, quite possibly blank.  But let’s just go with the idea for a minute.  Imagine.

And, since we’re in fantasy territory here anyway, let’s also imagine that your Agora system includes not just social media references, but real, live comments that come out of other people’s mouths.  What would be captured on those screens?  What would people be saying about your firm, your work, the services you provide?

Our immediate, reflexive answers to these questions are not always accurate.  Sure, you WANT to believe that people are buzzing away about that expensive magazine ad you bought.  And raving about what you were able to do for them in handling a difficult matter.

But the things people really pay attention to — and talk to their friends about, whether in real life or virtually — are often far more subtle.  The things worth mentioning, in fact, very frequently are the “little things” — the small details of daily interactions that make them just a tiny bit better than we might have expected them to be.  Non-irritating (or, dare to dream, interesting) music or programming while on hold.  A patient, helpful explanation of a complex transaction.  A smile.  A really good cup of coffee.  An assistant who goes out of his way for a client.  A personal greeting that doesn’t try too hard to sell anything.

Agora was intended as a marketing metric, but the thing that it ends up demonstrating is that the best marketing/promotion/PR/reputation-enhanacement/whatever-the-really-expensive-consultants-are-calling-it-these-days is Not Marketing.  It’s getting the small things right and treating people well.  And, of course, this has always been true, but the social media megaphone just amplifies it all the more.  Nobody tweets about the thing that precisely met expectations.  They’re either complaining or raving.

So, which is it?  What’s popping up on your Agora screens these days?  Do you like what you see?


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