Up until a few years ago, we could talk about owned, paid and earned media, easy peasy, one you would pay for an add, other create your own website and finally the other one have recommendations from a writer, right? Well, problem is, now we have all-in-one types of media. Take YOUTube for instance: you will pay for a channel, manage it to your best interest and get feedback all in the same space; as wonderful as it may sound, many companies are not ready to use this type of media or handle it properly.
It is this blur social networks have created between customers simply intaking publicity and customers reacting to publicity which has created a bliss/hell in many ways. It is here when as a community manager I avoided thinking:
What do I want to transmit?
What’s my purpose?
And started asking:
What IS my audience talking about?
How should I REACT to this?
What I WANT my audience to be talking about?
What I NEED my audience to be talking about?
Experiences are easily conveyed through Social Media; I have the opportunity to transmit the vibe and environment I live at the office, this experiences that define the company’s working atmosphere. There are tons of different ways to share to the world the same experience or idea (blogs, pictures, links, news) and inevitably this idea will evolve, creating a constant transformation; we are listening to what people around us thinks about our company and our community, then we learn what they liked and disliked, sometimes even what they didn’t care about, and from this learning many transformations happen for the Marketing area and even the company’s approach.
A simple call to action may create wonderful and positive experiences or a real nightmare… crowdsourcing is almost unpredictable, so create a call to action and then, prepare yourself for the worse, and I do mean write a plan in case things go wrong. We have lots of examples to learn from, negative experiences are recurrent when crowdsourcing campaigns rise, therefore we do have a lot of information out there to learn how to turn the bad into our favor and avoid being a constant reminder of how social media went wrong - what goes on the web, stays on the web.
Image taken from Google.
What’s important is what you do about this negative reactions and how you turn them into brand awareness. That being said…being the face of a company isn’t easy, especially when you’re faced with the anonymity of the internet, you should never let the haters get you down; ignore the trolls and keep on going. Practical example of a small mistake that could’ve come out huge PR crisis but became a well managed approach, JC Penny’s Hitler look alike kettle. No need to explain that all of the social networks were on it, everyone had something to say, articles were written. What did JC Penny do? They wisely chose to respond while not being too seriously.
It’s time for companies to try to understand the power of social media; a small issue like an unintentional coincidence that gets picked up by Reddit can quickly snowball into a PR crisis. Every small complaint should be answered with a cool mind and a sense of grace and politeness, don’t jump into passionate and gutted answers, think about a positive come-back instead and you’ll be surprised by your audience’s reaction.