Are You A Social Media Ostrich?
There is a train of thought among many businesses that think that by avoiding Social Media they are avoiding the chance that their company or services will be trashed online. This idea stems from a fairly common misconception that companies can control what people think and say about their brand.
In today’s hyper connected world, this is the equivalent of plugging your ears, shutting your eyes and yelling loudly to drown someone out. Just because you can’t see or hear them doesn’t mean that they will go away.
Those of you that have heard me speak on the topic of social media, or have received consultation from me or someone at Avelient will know that we preach a cautious brand of “social media”. We encourage businesses to dip their toes into the pool, and proceed only after donning their water wings. That said, we also preach the fact that engagement is the only way you can maintain any form of control over your presence online.
Recently, I had a discussion with someone on Twitter who posted: “Social Media: all it means is that your company is no longer largely immune to idiots”.
This train of thought struck me as having two vital flaws:
First, the idea that social media is some new, electrifyingly powerful, form of communication that has the ability to let every “idiot” who wants to harm your business suddenly have a more powerful soap box — is false. Yes, sure, social networks have given people more and more reach, but, the reality is that they are simply another form of communication. Prior to social networks, there was the websites, forums, bulletin boards, memes, SMS, phones, letters, the ability to picket your business and of-course the good ol’ grape-vine.
Second, the statement above implies that before being on a social network, companies didn’t have to worry about their brand or reputation online. This is completely false. I wrote a blog post about this several months back: Businesses Can’t Avoid Social Networks Forever. In this article, I showed several examples of companies that learned the hard way that they cannot control the message online.
The game hasn’t changed that much, it’s just good communication
I do believe that the author of the above tweet was not all too serious in the tweet and it was coming from a place of wry humor than any real thought. That said, I’ve provided enough consultation to businesses — that are trying to navigate their way through the mind field that is social media networks — to understand that this is a real fear and one that people need continued education on in order to succeed.
As a marketing company, Avelient is serious about all forms of communication that our customers — and even their customers — are using. We apply the same rules of professionalism no matter what communication method we’re using. Many potential leads come from our social networks, and we’re constantly monitoring our name online to make sure that conversations about us reflect positively upon us.
In the situation were a conversation about us takes on a negative tone, we take that opportunity to reach out to that person and try to resolve the situation, either by fixing any problem that they have with our service, or by correcting any misunderstandings.
This is how we’d handle any situation involving negative attention towards our company, no matter if it was through a social club, a picketer in front of our office, or even the grape-vine.
Why? Because it’s called customer service, and even idiots get customer service. They sometimes turn out to be your biggest promoter.