When we talk to each other about pleasant themes or problems, that’s one thing. However, when we talk about this to organizations, brands and companies that are directly involved in our conversations, that’s something completely different -> and something that completely speeds up the quality of the dialogue!
- This means that we managed to remove communication obstacles and buffer zones
- This means that companies are treating us (well, at least some of us) as significant players as well as equals
- This means that someone out there is readily keeping an eye on what we say and then thinks and worries about what we say or ask
- This definitely concludes that this entire social environment is becoming a better place (for this whole) society!
Some of us don’t want to engage in a dialogue with companies, and that’s totally legit. I see a few reasons… it could be that we like anonymously talking smack by firing empty shots and making a lot of noise, or we simply don’t have enough self-confidence to directly speak with those that are concerned or responsible for our problems, or maybe we’re not so staunch (negatively) about what we have to say… or perhaps it’s something completely different.
I’m writing this post based on my experiences. I work with large companies, as well as some smaller ones but mostly with really big ones (1000 + employees). It was tough in the beginning. You have no idea :( But I was persistent. Mostly because I am passionate about what I do and I’m aware that this is a communicational revolution, well actually, more of a social revolution that places real things in the right place -> people and their lives right at the center of things! Likewise, I know how to address the process which will continue to develop and I’m confident enough to face large companies with the fact that there will never be less internet users and social networks than there are today! Only more! And to be clear, this is an excellent job for me: both the perspective and the potential are simply immense!
Concerning negotiations, I have prepared myself by answering all (of their) potential questions and fears in terms of opening up their companies towards the social web and its community.
What are the biggest fears causing companies to delay their inclusion within the social web dialogue?
1. Negative public reaction! Critique, trash-talking, hate… What else did they expect?! For decades they’ve opened channels only towards words that wanted to hear! Most even didn’t want to hear out their own employees, not to mention the broader community. Many have conceptualized their business strategies by coordinating it with numbers and graphs, instead of with people and their needs.
Once the floodgates open, everything pours out! It’s only natural…
What can help -> People talk (even if it’s negative) whether you’re there or not. If you’re there, the rush and the crowdedness will disappear over time… Be there and be consistent! At the beginning do this with a reinforced interaction team that will solve anticipated problems with which people will come to you.
The real question in terms of negativity of the community is what will the company do over publicly divided issues? Will you say: “Gee, thanks for the question/critique. We appreciate your concern and value your opinion… bla bla bla” or: “The matter is complicated. We don’t solve things case by case. Tell us everything. Everything that you say will help us to solve this particular and/or similar problem once and for all. Oh and yeah: we’ll notify you about what has been done, based on your (this) input!” The catch isn’t replying to negative comments, but in solving the cause of the problem in a systematic way! It’s about reshaping the business policy, as well as the procedures and business culture in relation to the shifts and expectations of the users that are actually doing you a favor by lining up on your doorstep and giving you hints and pointers on how to help them.
2. The fear of losing control over a brand
Oh really? So you’re a brand controller too? The brand doesn’t belong to you, that’s why it’s a brand. The brand belongs to the users. if it wasn’t so, it wouldn’t exist as a brand. This is sort of like you not seeing the brand being torn apart or picked up by people (even now) both online and offline, and you acting as if you have your hands over your eyes – like a two year-old child thinking you’re invisible, even though it’s only you who doesn’t see the dialogue. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It means that -> people already control your brand.
What can help -> What do you think of Bank of American having only ONE twitter account @BOFA_help which serves the sole purpose of answering client-based questions and problems! There’s no mumbo-jumbo corporate story, beating around the bush, the PR message -> six people behind a single BOA account talking ONLY about user problems! They solve them live (24/7). We all have difficulties with banks and red tape, however BOA is the only that solves them live in real time! That’s why they’re better than the rest. They’ve accepted the obvious in the most transparent way. They solve things! They make them better.
There are more fears and doubts. Who and how should do this inside a company, how would the “outcome be measured”… We’ll talk about that, but…
Now I’d like to talk a bit about us who are waiting for these companies within the social web.
A certain number of us believes that WE own this space, with the companies being the bad guys, free-riding on a wave of changes, and that it is us who are important, influential and with a ton of rights. Well you know what, it’s not quite like that, or should I say – yes it is, however they have all that too! That really is the point of the dialogue and its democratization using the following tools: they’re important, influential and have lots of rights -> the same rights as us!
“Public figures and GMs should be support at this stage of discovering twitter. The easiest thing is to attach them #tweetomania”
This includes the right to respect, the right to dialogue, the right to constructiveness, the right to politeness, as well as the right to equal opportunities and chances as the individual user. I fully support Dragan’s and Varagić’s opinions brought out at yesterday’s #tweetomania, in which they argue that these rights are especially deserved by those who are joining now, playing the role of modern pioneers in comparison to 99% of other companies out there comfortably sitting in silence hiding behind a veil of mass media and enjoying the fact that the proactive ones are being crucified on out there on social networks.
Let’s get one thing straight, negative critique, complaints, comments, hate and trash-talking – YES! Always a YES! A certain YES on every possible channel, including the social web. The question remains though whether you’ll show your support just as affirmatively by encouraging and sharing the positive aspects as well? It’s just a question of objective balance, really.
The should get what they deserve – both the negative and positive pieces of the pie!
I often write about large companies. I can be vile, but always argumentative. I always consult the other side and suggest a constructive solution. Take a look at my posts concerning GAP, Splitska Banka, and Komercijalna Banka. I can be positive too, as well as compliment and defend! Just remember my post about Banca Intesa and the well-intentioned citizen or the one about G17 (large) + for the reaction. This is what I would call objective balance!
In conclusion, I also asked Mr. Branko Radujko, the CEO of Telekom Srbija, as well as Mr. Dejan Tešić , a member AIK Bank‘s Executive Board, what risks they see associated with the opening up of new companies towards the social web and what role does the support/critique coming from individual users mean to them:
Branko Radujko -> If a company has a strategy, there’s no reason for fear towards opening up to the social web. This applies even to those employees that don’t understand this strategy. This reaction encouraged us. The architecture of trust isn’t simple, but the acceptance within this society is very encouraging.
Dejan Tešić -> Every feedback coming from the users, whether it is positive or negative helps the bank improve itself. Malicious or biased comments will be sought through, and instead of working against you, they will work for you!
Greatness is validated by pushing things for the better, not just by merely pushing them. For further developing the dialogue, each of us must take care of (at least) one grain of responsibility.