Have No Fear

Social Networking Rule Number 1: No Fear

The social media world is supposed to be a place where conversations between like-minded people are free and easy. How does it strike fear in the hearts of corporate leaders?

Some would have you think that it is because people from traditional marketing don’t understand the Web 2.0 world. It isn’t. They understand it better than most. And, they know that it is a cut-throat world where mistakes are amplified. After a recent presentation on social media and customer retention, I asked the attendees if they had any questions. Before anyone spoke, I knew what would be asked because it is always asked:

“What if we make a mistake? How much will it hurt our business?”

Even people who are not actively participating in social media know about the corporate lynch mobs who attack when a company’s representative makes a mistake. Their fear is that they will slip and seriously hurt their company’s reputation.

It’s sad that these things happen, but staying away from social media doesn’t protect your business. It increases the exposure because mistakes happen online and off. When something happens offline to a social customer, it can become a trending topic very quickly. If your company doesn’t have a social presence, who will rally to your defense? You can quickly create a user account to respond, but who will hear you if you don’t have fans and followers?

A better approach is to create your presence and build your community before there is a crisis. If you make a mistake along the way, fear not. The attention span of social networkers is very short. Apologize and let it go. Within twenty-four hours, it will be forgotten.

Don’t let trolls keep you away from a channel that provides unprecedented access to your customers. They try to build a name for themselves by highlighting missteps. Mistakes are relative. Most are minor and have a short lifespan if you don’t engage with the trolls. Once they see that you aren’t playing, they’ll move along leaving you free to focus on your customers and community.

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