Losing Control – Fear of Social Media
It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t much to look at. I was a lot less of a geek then than I am now (yes, really), and so the bare bones look didn’t do much for me. This was, after all, around 1997 or so.
Things have changed. A lot.
In me and, of course, online.
The thing that was compelling about Usenet was the sheer volume and breadth of conversation. People talked about all sorts of junk. There was a huge skewing towards Politics, but there were discussions about other things as well. And — ha! — some people even attempted a bit of a community.
Fast forward to now.
There are online communities in all sorts of places. Facebook is one. Twitter is another. LinkedIn is another. MySpace limps along and is a bit of another. The blogosphere is yet another. Forums — my big love — is another one. And there are, I am sure, more, including, even, the comments sections in news outlets. Communities seem to spring up, no matter what a company is doing or intending.
And that’s a pretty great thing. Human beings actually want to connect to one another. Now, there are a lot of trolls out there, and people who enjoy poking each other with pointed sticks. It happens — I won’t deny it. But there’s a boatload of good out there as well.
Enter companies. I think the biggest fear for them is a perceived loss of control. Well, it ain’t just perceived folks. It’s very real. You just can’t massage the entire message that’s going out about Acme Widgets. And — psst — you don’t want to.
Lack of control is, I feel, a grand means to creativity. It is a way to push new ideas up to the surface. It is — dare I say it? — a pathway to innovation.
Sticking a bunch of people into a windowless room and telling them to be creative is going to be about as effective as sticking a gun to their heads and commanding that they write a guaranteed hit song.
Communities — in whatever form they take in the Social Media space — are a means of letting in fresh blood and new ideas. People actually — amazingly enough — generally want to do this for free. They just like creating. Or they want to put their two cents in. Or they just want to sound off or complain, but sometimes there’s something in there, and it’s useful. After all, if you’re Corvair in the ’60s, you might think your car is dandy. Heh, it wasn’t.
You might think New Coke is a fabulous idea. It wasn’t.
You get the idea. Let in the community of ideas and innovation. They are gonna sometimes try to tear the company (or each other) a new one. Keep it as civil as possible without squelching the real creativity (and without driving off shyer or quieter members who might be getting shouted down by the more vocal mob) and keep it as on topic as possible without driving off people who are interested in not just the product or service or company, but also in each other — but who still have plenty to offer.