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Consequence Free Social Media

August 17, 2008

“Wouldn’t it be great, if no one ever got offended
Wouldn’t it be great to say what’s really on your mind
I have always said ‘all the rules are made for bending’
And if I let my hair down, would that be such a crime?”
Great Big Sea.

Back-to-back song lyrics. On Friday night in Buffalo, Great Big Sea rocked our new waterfront. When they sang this song, I made a mental note to do a blog post about it. Then I danced a little more.

But check out the above lyric. When I read it, I can’t help but think of some clients, and how they think of social media.

Wouldn’t it be great, they think, if we engaged in this media and no one said anything bad about us? Wouldn’t it be great if the social media campaign was consequence free?

On the surface, this seems like a valid goal. Engage in a back and forth medium, but don’t worry about people sharing the bad stuff. And yet, wouldn’t complaints actually be great?

Think about it: people who take the time to share their displeasure with something clearly want to be part of the change. And when people want to be part of the change, there’s a good chance they can be changed to a passionate evangelical customer.

Now, there’s a chance that a brand will get the wingnut who uses profanity. But that is easily dealt with by taking the high road.

They could write: “X Product is a pile of steaming shit.”

The brand could respond, “If you have a criticism, please offer it without profanity”.

So instead of thinking about it as ‘maybe someone would complain’, think about it instead as maybe someone will offer constructive criticism. What are the consequences of that?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2008 2:19 pm

    This has come up a lot with clients of mine, and I always point out that people saying negative things about a company isn’t new – the new part is the company having a chance to respond.

    After all, wouldn’t you rather have someone talk trash to your face and give you a chance to defend yourself than spread it to who knows how many people behind your back?

  2. August 19, 2008 2:48 pm


    I would. When this comes up, I tell clients we’ll deal with each comment as it comes.

    So far, the comments haven’t come. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a little narcissistic of our clients to think that people will complain. But that said, I think there’s value in a complaint.

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