Think you are running your business

 Think you are running your businessNo matter how busy you think you are running your business, you need to keep one ear to the ground looking for problems. Remember, problems tend to be immediate surprises, which you had no way of expecting.

However, problems also can be things that, when you analyze later, you can see where the cracks started to appear. In fact, you often can plot from point A to point "Problem" and see exactly where the situation went awry.

Keeping your ear to the ground starts within your own organization.
It could be as  simple as tracking trends as they become trends and implementing solutions before  they become huge problems.
When the pain reliever Motrin launched a commercial back in 2008 about how  mothers should use Motrin to relieve sore muscles from carrying babies in baby  slings, moms everywhere went ballistic. 

"How insulting," they shouted-not only  from the rooftops, but from Twitter, Facebook, and blogs galore. By the time the New York Times called me-about eight hours after the story broke-to ask my opinion on the issue, the executives at Motrin, well, probably needed a few Excedrin.

The biggest problem for Motrin wasn't the ad itself. We all have brain farts from time to time, where we, for whatever reason, come up with a bad idea. The problem on Motrin's side, however, was that they didn't respond until about 14 hours later.

By this time, the Internet had ample opportunity to not only rake Motrin over the coals, but also to rake them over brand-new coals for not being responsive when they started getting raked over the original coals!
In other words, they weren't listening to the wind, nor did Motrin have one ear to the ground.

Had the makers of Motrin been paying attention to what was happening online, a good portion of their mess could have been avoided with a simple "yeah, that was a stupid commercial; we don't know what we were thinking "blog post a few hours in. Instead, it made international news-and not in a good way.

Trust Your Instincts
We have instincts for countless reasons. Millions of years ago, instincts saved us from starving, as well as from walking up to a saber-toothed tiger and trying to pet it. Instincts were designed to help us. They're what has kept the species alive.

However, at some point during our evolution, we decided that we were smarter than our instincts. We decided, "Hey, we're smart people.

We have opposable thumbs. (Take that, dogs!) We don't have to listen to our instincts if we don't want to! " So we didn't. And the Darwin Awards were born. (The Darwin Awards are the Internet's unofficial awards for pure stupidity.

These awards are given, posthumously, to people who've died doing amazingly stupid things, thus thinning the herd. Things that often begin with the soon-to-be-award-winner saying, "Hey, hold my beer and watch this! ")

From a corporate standpoint, though, instincts are a good thing and should be ignored very, very rarely, if at all. In fact, the only times I can remember where I've gotten into serious professional trouble can all be traced back to one moment where I didn't listen to my instincts.

For the purposes of sanity, a public decision here can be described as pulling the trigger on a social media campaign of any type, devised by you or anyone you work with or any of your clients. Before you agree to it / launch it / go public with it, ask yourself this one question:

"Do I feel good about this campaign?" Then listen to your answer.  Your instincts will tell you the right answer.

Now understand-there's a big difference between instincts and fear. We have both for a reason, and they're both designed to keep us alive. But fear can be overcome. Fear is what I get every time I'm about to jump out of that plane on a skydive.

Cooler Heads Prevail
One very important lesson to take away from this book is that you should never argue with your audience. Sadly, Nestle didn't know this.

Nestle posted a rather benign statement on its Facebook page asking people to not use altered versions of its logo as their profile photos. If people used the altered logos, Nestle said, those logos would be removed.

Of course, people started posting that Nestle wasn't allowed to tell them what to do-"you're not the boss of me, blah, blah." Nothing new there.

What happened next, though, was kind of amazing. The person running Nestle's Facebook page decided to start getting into arguments with the people posting comments on the Facebook page.

Companies see social media and think tech, and when people think tech, they tend to think "the young kid who knows how to set up my iPad."

That's a costly, costly mistake. You need to make sure that the person running your social media campaign is also well-versed in interacting with the public. In fact, that's what social media is. You can't have someone who doesn't know how to keep up your image or brand. If you do, you'll lose.

Remember: anything you put online will be there forever. But more importantly, what you Direct Message or email is not private. If you call someone a jerk (even if the person is a jerk), that person has every reason to post your comments for all the world to see.


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