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January 25, 2010

Perhaps Social Media isn’t for everyone. Yet

A New-Year’s post from Vanksen got me thinking- more specifically this part:

Brands must facilitate their own appropriation and distribution by relinquishing a share of control to users, which will ideally reward them with enthusiasm and positive traction in the world of social media. Whether or not you want to seize that opportunity, users are already sharing their real opinions ā€” positive or negative ā€” over the web. Refusing to participate in those conversations means giving them 100% authority to define your position to their peers and to others.

This is all quite old-hat (if you want a deeper explanation then read Cluetrain) but raises an issue- what about that swathe of big businesses for whom the thought of putting their fortunes in the hands of an unregulated mass would be tantamount to corporate suicide? We all know that some organisations have less-than-honest business practices and also that a large number of those companies supply some of the world’s most desirable products and services.

So what’s the answer for the likes of the Goliath Corporation? Avoid the transition into embracing Social Media? Say “it’s not for us”?- are large companies immune from the negative effects of opting out? Is it true to say that positive word of mouth about a product or service will happen regardless of whether the brand is pushing and amplifying that message artificially?

The biggest worry for a large organisation worried about dipping its toe in this particular pool must be how much of their company they could need to modernize, reform and upgrade to be the kind of ethical, wonderful company that social media likes to like.