I just read a very interesting article called “How to Weather a Twitterstorm“–and one of the most interesting parts was the comments, which included a whole lot of people who basically said that Twitter, Facebook and other social media are a marginal part of the overall audience, and kowtowing to them is a mistake.
I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Twitter, et al. They have influence beyond their numbers, and there’s certainly precedent for stories leaping out of niche social media into the mainstream, with major consequences. Just ask Dan Rather about the fake memo about Bush’s military service that cost several key staffers their jobs and forced Rather into premature retirement. I have been a deep critic of Bush (and a fan of Rather), but when I saw the memo reproduced online, I knew there was no way it could be authentic. It was done on a modern word processor.
In my view, the article’s author, Abbey Klaassen, is more on target. she offers strategies to evaluate, contain, and appropriately respond to online criticism.
The point is critical that you want to acknowledge and contain the problem, and do so rapidly. And Twitter can be a great tool for this. Smart companies are finding ways to build their brand on Twitter, and one of the best is to be open to criticism while finding effective ways to defuse it. The Twitter page for Comcastcares is a great example of this. It’s all about customer service for cable TV customers with technical problems.
NOTE: THIS IS MY LAST fast company BLOG POST FOR APRIL. SEE YOU IN MAY.