Image by ajstarks via Flickr
Louis Gray makes some interesting observations in the “Era of Faceless Giant Corporations is Over” on his blog. What makes this interesting one simple statement of intent, which is to be more cautious when dealing with companies and saying things out loud. While we can all joke about the “oh did I say that out loud” routine, as companies get more and more connected to their customers via Social Networking, the idea of slamming a company online becomes a matter of “what is in it for me” and “how will the world see me after that”.
I remember one item in particular from early in my blogging career where a commenter on a blog discussed my failed upbringing as a comment to a blog entry. What is interesting is if you do a Google search on the person’s name that comment is the first thing that pops in a Google search for that person. The same holds true for when we go ranting against a company, and while Louis looks at companies as a collection of people, it is also quite possible that we simply forget that there is a real person at the end of the blog entry, twitter stream, or other information that we share. In my example that commenter’s comment has never been taken down, and it has impacted their lives when you go back and read what they are writing in other places. As we live in a highly connected world, that one simple slip of words could have long lasting ramifications to how people perceive you on the internet and that will carry over into real life. We also need to keep on remembering that it is not just a collection of blog entries, it is a collection of people who are trying to connect with each other regardless of the companies cutting access to social technologies.
While many a blog post or Twitter stream has sounded out a screed against a company or a product, I am now more cautious than ever to avoid emotional critical rants against companies and brands I feel may have done me wrong. Some of this is due to the increased transparency of said companies – and no doubt a good amount of it has been my lucky position to gain access to some of the most respected brands in the business, to meet the people who make the decisions and see each day as a challenge with aims to shared goals, just like we do. Source: Louis Gray
It is an interesting idea that as we work with increased transparency with other companies that we need to realize that there are real people that make up companies. That many times those real people are also just as over worked, over stressed, trying to meet bills, pay off credit cards, and putting on clothes like we all do. One good example of this is that with my startup we are not Amazon nor are we Ebay, but when a customer makes a negative comment over something we cannot control then we also have to deal with the ramifications of that. The unhappy customer was not unhappy about anything we did, just unhappy about how much they spent. Like all shopping carts the bottom line price is there for you to accept or reject, yet we were held responsible for the final price which the customer was unhappy with. We think that the person forgot that there is a startup behind the scenes that we are not a big company with a large advertising budget, we live and die by consumer feedback. That negative feedback so far has hurt, but not too sure if the slowdown in people shopping now is economy driven or feedback driven.
We have also seen this kind of thing across the work place, especially with virtual teams; we forget that there are real people involved. We do this when we have a remote connection, and not interact with people face to face. We can marginalize the remote contacts, we forget they are people, and often people with their hands tied to support scripts or language barriers. We can quickly spend our time disempowering someone by how we act and how we react on the internet. What is interesting though is that we keep on seeing that people inside companies that get social networking just blow people away because we don’t expect the personalized attention. The reaction I had reading how a hotel was able to put some special polish on a person’ s hotel stay is a prime example of empowering company employees to go that extra mile. In all, maybe social networking will lead to a more gentile relationship in how we interact on the internet. If not, the angry conversations that you have might just hang out forever.
(Cross-posted @ TechWag)