According to the author of Predictably Irrational, we live simultaneous in the world of social norms and the world of market norms. Social norms are the exchanges and requests we make as part of personal connections. Market norms are the dollar-defined exchanges of dollars, wages, rents, prices. Here's where it gets interesting:
"In the lasts few decades, companies have tried to market themselves as social companions--that is, they'd like us to think that they and we are family, or at least are friends that live on the same cul-de-sac. "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there" is one familiar slogan...
Whoever started the movement to treat customers socially had a great idea. If customers and a company are family, then the company gets several benefits. Loyalty is paramount. Minor infractions--screwing up your bill and even imposing a modest hike in your insurance rates--are accommodated. Relationships of course have ups and downs, but overall they're a pretty good thing.
But here's what I find strange: although companies have poured billions of dollars into marketing and advertising to create social relationships--or at least an impression of social relationships--they don't seem to understand the nature of the social relationship, and in particular, it's risks.
For example, what happens when a customer's check bounces? If the relationship is based on market norms, the bank charges a fee and the customer shakes it off. Business is business... In a social relationship, however, a hefty late fee--rather than a friendly call from the manager or an automatic fee waver--is not only a relationship-killer; it's a stab in the back. Consumers will take personal offense. They'll leave the bank angry and spend hours complaining to their friends about this awful bank. After all, this was a relationship framed as a social exchange."
No parallels to Goodreads here. Say, a site that framed itself in social terms and then acting surprised when people get pissed off that they start applying business decisions to their social relationships. No parallels at all.