Both Edges of the Social Media Sword are Positive

Recently, I realized first hand that not all executives at companies are necessarily in love with social media. In fact, some may not believe that their company should be using it at all.

To prove that these individuals are, in my opinion, misguided, take a look at a snapshot of my day:

6:30 AM – wake up, immediately wishing I could stay in bed.

8:00 AM– Get to work right on time and begin scouring the Blogosphere via Twitter & my new favorite iPad app, Mr. Reader.

Mr. Reader is a Google Reader client for iPad.

8:15 AMDiscover this Mashable article. on Vizify, a service that produces free graphical biographies.

9:30 AMComplete my bio – I love it.

12:00 PM – Lunch break: Scour the blogosphere using Twitter & Mr. Reader again. (Some people may consider this an addiction.)

12:05 PM – Discover that a friend, Heather Saffer, also made her bio today.

I asked her what she thought of it:

Twitter Conversation

This isn’t exactly a noteworthy series of events for me. In fact, something like this generally happens to me every day. And yet, sometime during my lunch break something hit me with more clarity than ever before:

This perfectly exemplifies the double-edged sword that is social media.

First, the positives:

  • Social media, and digital tools in general, are used to spread information. Without using Twitter & Mr. Reader, I would never have heard of Vizify – leaving me incapable of using this awesome tool.
  • I liked Vizify so much that I endorsed it. That is free, third-party marketing on behalf of Vizify. Additionally, I emailed invitations to other users that I think will enjoy the service, further spreading my discovery. This is viral marketing at it’s finest, and tools like Twitter allow that.

Now, the negatives:

  • Whenever people are talking about your product, they may say something negative. You can see for yourself that my conversation with Heather today took a respectfully negative turn. Obviously, when there is something bad to say, Twitter is a venue for that as well.

I always try to end things on a positive note:

  • Even the negativity can be seen as a good thing. First of all, it’s free feedback that should be highly valued. Normally, to get feedback like this, a company would need to send surveys to collect information – there are a ton of costs associated with that process! Furthermore, this type of feedback is less biased and more honest.
  • Second of all, the fact that this negative dialogue occurred on a social media platform means that Vizify will have the chance to respond to it. I think we can all probably agree that when companies have a presence during a negative situation, it reflects upon them in a more positive way. By having the ability to respond to criticism, Vizify can turn a negative into a positive.

One thing is for sure:

Whether or not Vizify had a presence online, I was probably going to have the same conversation that I had this morning. If Vizify wasn’t there to witness it, they would lose out on the feedback, and they would lose out on a lot of the free marketing potential that social media unlocks.

David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

This is one thing that one of my favorite authors, David Meerman Scott, writes about often.

I think him and I, and hopefully you, can all agree that every organization needs an online presence.

Have you ever dealt with resistance to social media efforts by an executive? How did you deal with that situation?

7 thoughts on “Both Edges of the Social Media Sword are Positive

  1. Jim, I am proud of you for this one as well. It’s very true, even negative attention is still attention in some way. Not to mention, maybe users can take their complaints to Twitter and get some feedback on how the problems are being fixed or tweaked.

    I’ve always said that the more you know, the less you don’t. It’s a very simplistic expression, but taking the “I don’t know” out of a business, or social, situation is one of the most crucial tips to success in said situation. For example, Vizify now has some feedback that “the mobile version blows” and “more control would be appreciated.” If enough people agree with you, the company can tweak it to meet your needs.

    Well written my good man!

  2. Good post! Companies that embrace the ostrich philosophy (“if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist”) will also miss opportunities. Social media conversations are happening regardless of an executive’s opinion on its relevancy to the organization. So why not have a presence and, at minimum, use it as a listening tool to see what’s being said.

  3. Thanks for mentioning me. I find that the resistance with executives is that they think “social media” is frivolous at best and dangerous at worst. If you change what you call it to “real-time media” most executives are eager to participate because they can reach their customers directly.

    • My pleasure, David. I wish I had my book on hand while writing this, I would have liked to quote you. I do think that the “real-time” shift could be helpful, or I’ve thought about using “digital” more, rather than “social.” Social has a bad reputation among chief executives, so it seems!

  4. Great article Jim and thanks for being one of the first Vizify users! Your points about negative comments being an opportunity for companies are spot on. While we’ve had overwhelmingly positive response, we also have plenty of work to do to make the product even better. Mobile is high on the list as are a few other things that we’re hearing about through social channels. This real time feedback is absolutely invaluable to us! So keep the comments coming, good and bad, and we’ll be working overtime to address all the issues.

    Jeff Cutler-Stamm
    Vizify CTO

    • Jeff, it’s great to see your name & face on this forum! I hope I made it clear enough in the post that I REALLY do love Vizify already (although I do need to put some more time into optimizing it). It’s great to see the enthusiasm that you have for the service and I’m excited to see it progress and improve over time.

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