Filed under: Corporate Social (Media) Responsibility | Tags: dominos, facebook, Internet, new social media, OrCom, Organizational Communication, public relations, the consumerist, twitter, UP Manila
As a child of media, I’m pretty confident in the powers of new social media. I’m sure that the Internet, with wikis, blogs, social networks, RSS, podcasts, video logs, and other existing web-based applications are potent tools to achieve just about any end.
But while I am on my way in becoming a New Social Media Minister, I am also aware that once I enter the corporate world, my young nerdy self might not be adequate to evangelize new social media philosophies. What I can do, though, is to prepare myself in defending the non-clamping down of new social media practices in the organization I’ll belong to in the future.
I don’t expect the organization to love new social media instantly; rather, I hope to make the organization receptive to the idea of leveraging new social media. (I’d also like you to know, dear reader, that I don’t intend on doing this haughty project alone–I’m under the assumption that I’ll work alongside enlightened public relations practitioners too. :P) So really, why use social media?
Company nightmares turned reality
For companies who have not yet tapped new social media for their business (whether it be for PR, Advertising, or Marketing), now is the time to start. I do understand that many companies don’t want to be guinea pigs. Any added program to the company requires money, but not utilizing new social media practices can be more expensive than engaging it.
Two PR nightmares in point: Domino’s and Facebook. While both companies were able to overcome their troubles, they present very good cases of new social media practices gone awry in organizations.
First, Domino’s Pizza faced a PR nightmare due to a video posted in YouTube. The video made by 2 Domino’s employees showed them preparing a sub sandwich in the most disgusting manner (the details of which I’d rather not discuss in my blog). The repulsive video caused an uproar in the Internet, tainting the positive reputation of the 50 year old brand. Who would want to eat in a pizza place that had employees doing whatever they want with the food?
Second, when Facebook changed their Terms of Service (ToS) last February, a downpour of online protests occured. Facebook stated in their modified ToS that they can use their users’ uploads however way they want–even when users take down their content. Despire the mere “subtle change,” people would not tolerate the overstepping of their user rights.
Constant vigilance from rights-loving consumers
So the Internet isn’t just for reputation-wreckers–it is also home to vigilant citizens. When services are not rendered properly, or a product sucks, people now turn to the Internet to warn the rest of the world.
Blogs of all sorts are used to write extensively about bad consumer experiences. Twitter, a popular micro-blogging site, has been a channel to tweet consumer grievances–from bad service at a US inn to the unrest in the Iran government–with much success.
The Consumerist is a popular website that features entries about consumer rights, scams, scandals, among other consumer-experience related news. This site not only makes readers aware about other people’s experiences, but also empowers consumers to defend their right to good services and products.
Creating likeable realities for companies and consumers
Currently, there are no hard and fast rules as regards what organizations and employees may or may not do with their new social media practices, but good practices are already taking shape today.
The Internet is a value neutral tool–it is not bad or good in itself; rather, the value comes from users. This means that despite getting bad rap from consumers online, organizations can improve (or build) their reputations online.
As Dumbledore reassuringly said in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, help will be given to those who seek it–resources are plenty for a company’s PR team to whip up good strategies and tactics. Google is everyone’s friend–thousands of help articles are available, from various PR bloggers to new social media advocates. Even Twitter created a guide on how businesses can effectively use their micro-blogging creation. With some money, books about leveraging new social media can be bought–from titles like SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate, and Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time.
Engaging new social media is better than ignoring it. Inaction can lead to terrible consequences, and with so much help at hand, there is very little reason for companies not to be able to practice new social media. Doesn’t the Internet present many exciting opportunities for organizations? Now I’ll have to hope my optimism will translate into wonderful reality soon.
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