how not to use social media if you are a big dumb company

by marjorieingall on September 28, 2010

Dear Big Dumb Companies:

This is a don’t.

Has a blogger posted something on a blog (like, say, Feminist Fatale) that mentions your Company Name, pointing out a Heinous Thing your Company did? (Maybe the Thing is sexist, or racist, or homophobic, or rilly rilly stupid?)

Well, here are your choices.

a) IGNORE.

b) REFUTE.

c) APOLOGIZE.

There are no other choices.

In particular, it is a Poor Choice to show up suddenly; perkily chatter a bit about, say, how you TOTALLY publish books that are TOTALLY non-sexist, tacitly pointing out that past awesomeness should inoculate Company from future criticism (“But we published Harry Potter and The Hunger Games!”); acknowledge the blogger’s point obliquely while blaming the consumer for it (“We believe that every child should be able to choose…”); then conclude with a hearty “THANKS FOR THE DIALOGUE!” delivered in a condescending- and Effie-Trinket-sounding chirpy manner.

You know what? We know you’re a business, not a social service agency. You produce some good things and some bad things. (Me too.) You want to make money so you can continue to exist. We get that. But making social media work for you means not doing PR and/or damage control the way you’ve always done it. If you’re accused of, say, sexism, and you’re guilty — SET PHASERS TO IGNORE. DO NOT ENGAGE. THESE ARE NOT THE DROIDS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. (YES I JUST MIXED SCI-FI METAPHORS SUCK IT.) You only succeed in calling attention to your non-answer when you choose to non-answer, and in social media, lame PR can develop a life of its own.

Just thought you should know.

DISTRICT 12 4-EVA,

–m

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