Monday, March 12, 2007

Responding to Social Media 

I received this question late last week:

You talked about how things like camera phones and continuous news coverage have blown your average bad news like the Jet Blue delays into national headlines. But I'm interested in how a company would handle a crisis that originates with social media. For instance, when Dell computer users take their complaints to blogs. How could Dell respond to negative buzz of that magnitude and should they?

The answer is companies must be concerned with blogs and other social media postings. They should be monitoring them constantly. This has been true since bulletin boards in the 1990s allowed users to discuss and complain about the actions of corporations. When complaints become broad-based and focused, the corporation that fails to respond is heading for a reputational crisis and perhaps, a fall. Dell, for example, suffered a great deal from complaints about a decline in service. Dell finally took action but not before the company fell from favor.

It is not difficult to monitor blogs. Several search engines comb through them. It also is not difficult to respond directly to individuals or to a situation through operational improvement, e-mail and other media. The key is doing it regularly and frequently to capture and resolve complaints before they radiate beyond control and into mainstream media.


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