Last week while I was in Denver speaking at Jill Whalen's High Rankings Seminar I had the chance to speak with several of the attendees about their own company's opinions about social media marketing. While many were excited at the prospect of opening up new lines of communications with their customers, others explained that their company executives still lived in fear of open communication.
Why? Well, in the words of one attendee "What if they say something bad about us?"
What was my response?
"They're going to say something bad about you anyway. By entering the social media realm, at least you have a chance to respond."
If you are a large enough company, then it's pretty much a given that you've ticked someone off. It might have been your fault, it might have been a misunderstanding...but on the Internet, it's fairly common for people to hurl insults and complaints first and to seek remedy and clarification later.
This is the price of doing business online.
You may be avoiding social media because you, or your CEO is afraid of the bad things you might hear. You may think that if you continue to control the lines of communication by simply speaking at your customers, you can ignore the negative comments...but you need to ask yourself what the cost of ignoring those comments will be.
The most obviously issue is that you can't respond to the problems you aren't aware of. If you know your customers are going to complain, wouldn't you rather make sure you're there to hear it so that you can do your best to address it?
Dell has been schooled in the need to listen to customers time and time again, yet many companies continue to live in fear of what they'll find out if they allow their customers to talk to them. I'll speak to this issue from personal experience in an upcoming article from the Hide and Speak series.
Companies need to realize that running from social media means running from their customers.
What are you so afraid of?
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