Great thing about social media: you can amplify your business.
Bad thing about social media: you can amplify bad business.
If you watched any of the Amazon imbroglio on November 10, 2010, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
One bad decision – or one lack of a good decision – can be put under a magnifying glass and go viral in a heartbeat.
The problem for business people is that often the good doesn’t get amplified as quickly as the bad.
Search, for instance, for happy stories about United Airlines. Where do you start? What are the terms you look for?
On the other hand, search for United Breaks Guitars and you’ll find the now-famous video. And its 9 million views. And the two follow-ups from the guy. And on, and on.
Goodwill, brand reputation, loyalty – gone in 60 seconds.
Amp – li – fi – ca – tion.
How do you prepare for this reality? The reality that, at some point, your business will screw up and you will face amplification to the nth degree? SOME steps to follow:
If you’re a one-person shop, this could seem impossible – but you have to have a delegate, an aide de camp, someone you can bounce stuff off of. Work on building this network now.
Not only do you need to do scenario planning – what could possibly go wrong? – but you need to break problems – real and perceived – down into their simplest chunks. Be prepared to do that as quickly as you possibly can.
Amazon’s issue, which will be discussed ad nauseum, was not broken down into simple chunks quickly enough. “(1)We’re a free enterprise that can (2) decide not to sell something that (3) puts innocent lives at grave risk.” Three chunks. 30-second decision. Done.
Should we really be doing this? Is this the type of thing that will come back to haunt us? Are we associating ourselves with unsavory characters?
Lots of people sell lots of books. Lots of people claim to be influential and want special treatment. Etc., etc.
In the go-go “the customer is always right” universe we’re in, big brands are often afraid of who to kowtow to, or of not being PC enough, or of rustling the wrong feathers.
Amazon’s decision to publish and sell a book they should not have sold, if shared with a focus group or beta-tested with a user group, would have been resoundly panned.
Plan for the Amplification now.