change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
The growth and power of the Internet and specifically social media only makes this quote even more true today. The topic of watercooler conversation is quickly moving from last night's tv to real time issues via social media.
This is particularly true with happy or unhappy customer experiences. It takes just one unhappy customer, with the right online communities to kill a brand. Just ask Amazon after their crisis last week when they removed 'adult' titles from its sales rankings, including gay and lesbian titles. One man blogged http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15293.html about it and the response he received from Amazon. Once the issue started gaining momentum on Twitter Amazon responded that it was a glitch. That only spawned #glitchmyass website, blogs, tweets. Search #glitchmyass on twitter and you won't believe the amount of conversation on this topic.
Amazing that a long standing internet company like Amazon could make such a novice PR error in dealing with this issue.
In light of the power of this medium there is a lot of interest today in best practices on how to use social media to your companies advantage in today's world. Jennifer Lowther from 6S made a presentation on just that last night for the BCAMA.
She covered some good basics on social media. But what I wanted to hear those best practices. She feels that every project is different and things change so fast there aren't any clear best practices. But she did list off several MUST dos or do nots during her presentation (feels like best practices to me...).
- Be real, honest and transparent - if you have something to hide it will be found on the internet
- Plan before you go - a poor social media campaign can do more harm than good
- At minimum you must monitor what is being said about your organization online - even if you aren't ready to jump into the social media game, people are talking about you in REAL TIME (this is also true of you as an individual - every potential employer, business partner or client will google or twitter you so you better know what it says)
- Social media is REAL TIME - you must be prepared to deal with negative publicity or to own up to mistakes quickly, ie: Motrin, Dominos, Amazon...
- must give more than you take... social media is a conversation not a push sales pitch
- Be consistent in whatever you decide to do... if you start a blog make sure it is updated on a consistent timeline... so many organizations start blogging multiple times a week and then find that hard to keep up... be realistic and consistent
- MUST have a social media policy for your staff - otherwise you could be Translink with a front page story on the Province.
The final and personal lesson is to understand the power of your online community... ie: NEVER piss off mommy bloggers.
Many of us still think of social media as a 'youth' tactic. This was demonostrated in part by Jennifer an 'expert' in her field who references using Wikipedia at University. Since University for me was 20 years ago I certainly felt old. But then Jennifer reminded me that social media is being driven by 35-50 years. And that reminds me that even as a newbie blogger my voice does matter and companies had better pay attention to it.