Social Media Strategy, Social Media Marketing

The Paradox of Social Media Control

As discussed recently in “Why Are We So Scared of Our Customers?” and “Presto, How Social Media Makes Bad News Good” I’m seeing the fear of negativity preventing more companies from embracing social media. 

The typical social media objection is that if the company has a conversation with consumers in a public forum, the company will be forced to respond to inadequacies, and doing so will just make it worse. Consequently, many large brands are now engaged in social media “listening” campaigns, but not engaging with consumers directly. 

Sometimes Letting Go Allows You to Steer

Of course, listening is better than ignoring, but actually getting involved with your customers online doesn’t flickr photo download  bmx no hand 300x225 The Paradox of Social Media Controlgive you less control, it gives you MORE control. If you give customers a legitimate, easy-to-use mechanism for interacting with you and amongst themselves, a large component of the feedback about you is likely to end up within that mechanism. And then you can do something about it. 

Consider Comcast. What is a better circumstance for the company, listening but not engaging while customers post videos like this (which you’ve probably seen since the original has been viewed 1.35 million+ times on YouTube), or engaging and actually encouraging customer feedback and complaint via Twitter (@comcastcares)? (read bottom up for killer customer service on Twitter from Frank Eliason at Comcast)
comcastcares floor9 twitter search 300x206 The Paradox of Social Media Control

Control Via Facilitation

Dell has a Project RED application on Facebook. Within the forums, there are several consumer complaints about Project RED and how much it actually helps Africa, versus being a craven marketing ploy. While Dell itself doesn’t appear to be engaging in the dialog, it is facilitating the conversation (with other consumers defending Dell vociferously).

And because all of this is happening on an official Dell production, they have MORE control over it than if it was happening on a blog or some other Facebook page. They could comment officially. They could take down the forums. They could reach out privately to negative commenters. 

If this conversation was taking place on some other blog, Dell’s options would be greatly curtailed.

Creating a mechanism for customer feedback using social media is the post-modern equivalent of the suggestion box. Brands that don’t do it because they don’t want to loose control don’t understand that facilitation provides control, it doesn’t eliminate it. 

What do you think? Do you have examples of brands facilitating customer dialog using social media? Your comments are my food.

 

Related
  • http://tcgagency.com/ Alasdair Munn

    Good thoughts. Conversations I have had show that many companies lack the understanding of how to deal with user generated content. Comprehensive solutions for managing and analysing user generated content (UGMS) exist but are not widely understood or known.

    Educating business leaders about how these tools can work for them, and the importance and ease of analysing and controlling these conversations are critical. So much energy is spent on analysing mainstream consumer social media services. What we need now is help company leaders and decision makers understand how social software can be integrated into the very fabric of their institutions. We are not talking about allowing their employees to use twitter or facebook, but rather to integrate social software, CMS, LMS and analytics into their work practices. This is about connecting, organizing, creating and sharing information. It is about capturing and disseminating informal knowledge be it internally or externally.

    Once there is an understanding on this level, much of the fear will dissipate and we will see an increase in adoption.

  • http://tcgagency.com Alasdair Munn

    Good thoughts. Conversations I have had show that many companies lack the understanding of how to deal with user generated content. Comprehensive solutions for managing and analysing user generated content (UGMS) exist but are not widely understood or known.

    Educating business leaders about how these tools can work for them, and the importance and ease of analysing and controlling these conversations are critical. So much energy is spent on analysing mainstream consumer social media services. What we need now is help company leaders and decision makers understand how social software can be integrated into the very fabric of their institutions. We are not talking about allowing their employees to use twitter or facebook, but rather to integrate social software, CMS, LMS and analytics into their work practices. This is about connecting, organizing, creating and sharing information. It is about capturing and disseminating informal knowledge be it internally or externally.

    Once there is an understanding on this level, much of the fear will dissipate and we will see an increase in adoption.

  • http://hookusa.wordpress.com/ Tom Jeffrey

    Nice post. One other note, the same people who are trashing a company on Social Media sites are also the same people who are going to say, “Guess what, I post something bad about XYZ company on Twitter and they sent me a reply. And they fixed my problem.” When a big corporation takes the time to respond to individual complaints, it gives that individual something to brag about. “That big company cared enough about what I said to talk to me directly.” That translates into a lot of positive word of mouth.

  • http://hookusa.wordpress.com/ Tom Jeffrey

    Nice post. One other note, the same people who are trashing a company on Social Media sites are also the same people who are going to say, “Guess what, I post something bad about XYZ company on Twitter and they sent me a reply. And they fixed my problem.” When a big corporation takes the time to respond to individual complaints, it gives that individual something to brag about. “That big company cared enough about what I said to talk to me directly.” That translates into a lot of positive word of mouth.

  • http://speekback.com/ Jenna Broadbent

    We just launched a new site http://www.speekback.com. One of the main features of our product is to generate customer feedback for advertisers. It’s been really interesting to hear what customers have to say. Helpful, but sometimes painful for the advertiser to hear. All in all, it has helped advertisers tweak messaging, design and promotions to get better overall results.

    The surprising thing for me to observe is a high percentage of users actually take the time to fill out comments. I admit I underestimated people’s desire to have their opinions heard. It will be interesting to see how this facet of social media continues to develop.

    Thanks for another great post!

  • http://speekback.com Jenna Broadbent

    We just launched a new site http://www.speekback.com. One of the main features of our product is to generate customer feedback for advertisers. It’s been really interesting to hear what customers have to say. Helpful, but sometimes painful for the advertiser to hear. All in all, it has helped advertisers tweak messaging, design and promotions to get better overall results.

    The surprising thing for me to observe is a high percentage of users actually take the time to fill out comments. I admit I underestimated people’s desire to have their opinions heard. It will be interesting to see how this facet of social media continues to develop.

    Thanks for another great post!

  • http://twitter.com/musicella/status/1000668727 Katherine White

    Why clients are scared of social networking: http://tinyurl.com/5rnmpd

  • http://twitter.com/innogage/status/1133257882 InnoGage

    Does social media scare you a little? Hey, you’re not alone. http://cli.gs/W6j43U

  • letstalkandchat

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out: http://www.mikelmurphy.com/easy-info-product-site-system/