Friday, 17 July 2009

Social media is pervasive

This week's blog is a short response to an excellent article about the power of social media for individuals v business, posted by Dan Greenfield on Social Media Today. I am not going to repeat the content, Dan does an excellent job so please read his blog for an insightful analysis.

In summary, a musician had his guitar damaged by United Airlines' baggage handlers and this was witnessed. Following months of wrangling, United Airlines failed to provide compensation. Frustrated, the musician set about using his music to broadcast this shocking customer service via social media sites such as YouTube. This led to an outbreak of negative PR as the online community took umbrage at the disregard for the customer.

What does this tell us? Well, it clearly demonstrates that social media is pervasive. By that, I mean that its reach is extensive and one action can echo far and wide very quickly. You don't need to be a business leader or celebrity for your voice to be heard, shared and embraced.

I think this is wonderful. The internet is fast becoming a social vehicle whereby people can have their 15 minutes of fame and effect change. The power of the online community to chose what it believes is important is exciting (for some concerning, perhaps). One individual can influence millions of others simply by providing relevant content that is then shared across networks.

What does this mean to business? It means that monitoring brand conversation is more crucial than ever in order to protect and enhance your brand reputation. It is arrogant to dismiss channels like Twitter as worthless fads that offer no commercial value. If your company is being criticised and you do nothing about it, that will damage you commercially. The challenge has been set and business must take online reputation seriously. Read Dan's blog and follow the links to find out just how quickly a story can go global. Can business afford to be so complacent?

What do you think? Is this a great development that will help make business more accountable for its mistakes or do you find social media too pervasive and open to abuse?

All comments welcome. Thanks.

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