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?