As a company, your job is to make money. Trust me, I get it. Launching into social media is a scary place to be, if you’re a company that has not historically embraced transparency and customer facing transparency. Again, I get it.
However, in todays age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to simply not engage in the conversation happening around you. It’s going to happen. The feedback will occur. My friends in PR have taught me the idea of “getting out in front of a problem”. This concept says that if there is a potential for bad press, you do what you can to try to avert the nightmare by proactively engaging the customers.
There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. It happens all the time and any company who thinks they are immune to mistakes should not be in business. More importantly, any company who thinks they are immune to the weight of social media also is deceiving themselves.
Recently, on Twitter, Comcast showed up on the scene when Mike Arrington had a most unfortunate situation involving many hours of downtime. While the talking heads have talked extensively about the fact that Comcast called Arrington up after seeing his tweet, I’d like to look at the aftermath.
Frank Eliason, presumable a customer relations manager at Comcast, registered Twitter username ComcastCares. Some folks have complained about the nuance of the name and that Comcast really doesn’t care, but putting all that aside, the outreach has been simply amazing.
It is unclear if ComcastCares is officially sanctioned by the company, however it is obvious that Frank is in a position of some power and influence and is able to get things done at Comcast. On Sunday night, Frank was seen engaging many customers about problems they had and services the company offered. Some of the conversations got heated and were handled as ably as possible.
As a company looking to dive into social media, you can take two routes. You can setup a blog and use it as a one way communication tool, posting blurbs about your company and not engaging in a whole lot of conversation (maybe comments are turned off). On the other side of the spectrum, you can jump into Twitter and Facebook and blogging, etc fully prepared for and engaged in the exchange of ideas with your customers.
Direct2Dell is a great example of a company who has done the latter. At the end of the day, your company will get as much out of social media as you put into it.