Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why Social Communities Should Be Your Brand’s Greatest Advocate

Have you read about the latest “high profile” career to hit the skids … none other than General Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.  In short, McChrystal made some inflammatory public remarks this past week, regarding some top Obama administration officials. (including President Obama himself)  This blunder ultimately  “was the final nail in the coffin” ending his tenure as a high ranking military official.

AdvocacyOriginally picked up by Michael Hastings, of Rolling Stone Magazine the story was leaked to the associated press on Monday and spread across the Internet like wildfire.  Of course President Obama learned about it almost immediately.  The Snarky General (McChrystal) was summoned back to Washington, by Mr. Obama,  yesterday, (June 23) and was promptly dismissed from his command.

The irony of the situation is, the original Rolling Stone article does not actually hit U.S. printed magazine newsstands until Friday, June 24, where it will now be “old news.”  An online version of the same article is available at the Rolling Stone website.

This incident is a case study of how tightly connected our online world has become, and to the startling power and speed of Social Technology.  It also underscores that no matter who a person is, or what their position or social standing is, their reputation and credibility can be influenced (bad or good) quickly by information shared through social networks.

Social Communities Are Your Brand’s Greatest Advocate

So what does this mean to us, as individuals, and to the organizations/brands we represent?  Here are some thoughts:

Social Technology is Blind to Titles — Without question the power of communities is stronger than any individual.  So, whether you are a company CEO, or an entry level employee, don’t think for a minute that you don’t have to play by the same reputation rules as everyone else. Titles don’t matter in social networking channels.

Choose Your Words/Actions Carefully — When you say or do something publicly you can automatically expect it will become common knowledge in your community.  In fact, since your followers most likely have followers that you don’t have, the news will travel outside of your immediate circle of influence.  That is the reality of Social technology.

Sleep On It — This is old advice with a new meaning.  We’ve all heard our parents, bosses and friends tell us “when you are upset about something sleep on it.  Let it simmer for a while… process it and then respond calmly.”  In today’s network this is absolutely true.  If you react angrily to someone through social channels it is like a cancer.  Your credibility and reputation is damaged, and you lose followers.  Quickly.

Monitor Your Reputation — In this new Social Economy, your personal brand is your most important asset.  It takes a lot of hard work, sweat and tears to build a great reputation.  So, being clearly aware of what other’s perceptions are of you, is paramount to maintaining it. There are many ways to do this.  Google Alerts, and Twitter Searches are two great ways to track what the world is saying about you.

In the opinion of many Social technology gurus, reputation management is going to be a top focus of web 2.0 application developers in the near future.  Already there is technology that has been introduced that focuses exclusively on this subject.  One such tool is an application called “Unvarnished,” which is currently in beta testing stages. Think of it as “Yelp for Individuals.”

Unvarnished Accounts are being offered on an invitation basis only.  A workaround is, if you know someone that has an account, ask them to invite you to review them.  Once you respond that will get you a membership to the site.  Check it out!  In fact feel free to contact me, and I will send you an invitation. :)

My friends, your social communities should become your greatest allies.  If they are not, then you have some work to do.  One thing is for certain, they are going to talk about you, one way or the other.

Question:  How do you see the world of Reputation Management shaping up?  What advice would you share with your friends and colleagues how to grow and protect their brand?  Do tell!

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Lawson June 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

Nice post, Mike. The General’s case is a great example of the way technology has enabled speedy sharing and left old mediums behind. This was a major focus for broadcasters at the NAB conference I attended in Las Vegas. Those companies in tune with the shift are integrating with the Social networks and re-thinking how they do business.

From a branding perspective, it’s important to be aware at all times that the age of transparency doesn’t just apply to those who recognize it. Comments and actions should be well thought-out and honest if you want to be influential in the new communities. I especially like “Sleep on it”–great advice whenever you feel compelled to pull out the red pen. Thanks for sharing, Mike.

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Michael M McCurry CMP June 25, 2010 at 10:43 am

Hi Andy,

It will be interesting to see how the traditional media responds to the changes occurring in our world. One thing is for certain, they have lost their edge, as they can not keep up with social technology originated communications. So they better embrace it.

So true what you say that even if you don’t embrace transparency you better be aware that there are communities out there that are probably talking about you and your company.

Thanks for contributing Andy, as always!

Mike

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