For $50 a month you can monitor what the social media is saying about you, your company and your product. For nuthin' a month you can not worry about it. More and more stories are popping up about the need to "beat down" social media, and keep it from doing "irreparable harm". It is a sad reflection of the times. Nothing said about confronting the truth, as painful as that often is. No advocating root cause analysis and corrective action – just about the need to control the message.
A guy with a highly contagious disease eats at a New Jersey diner and "Within no time, parents and restaurant regulars alike had taken to the Internet, voicing their health concerns." Yeah – and why shouldn't they? The problem isn't the parents and customers who are concerned about it. The problem is a guy with a highly contagious disease in the restaurant.
"When someone posted a video on YouTube of rats running around a New York City Taco Bell restaurant in February of 2007, the video spread across the web like wildfire, causing Taco Bell's (YUM, Fortune 500) stock price and sales to drop." Seems pretty clear to me that YUM's stock price and sales should drop if there are rats running around their restaurants. The YouTube video isn't the cause of dropping sales and stock prices – lousy management that lets rats have the run of a Taco Bell is.
If you run the business in such a way that there are no rats to be videoed, there is no need to worry about the truth coming out about the business.
The biggest hoot is reserved for the management of the pharmaceuticals (seems we can always count on them for a laugh these days). It turns out Facebook cut a deal with the pharmers where no one could post comments to their pages. Why Facebook would give away their integrity to these stumble bums is something of a mystery, but they did, and then came to their senses and said 'no more'. With that, a number of the pharmers opted to cancel their Facebook pages.
"The industry 'nightmare' is processing adverse event reports (AERs), said Joe Farris, co-founder of the Digital Health Coalition, a nonprofit group focused on online marketing of health-care products. Users might write on a company’s Wall about a specific product causing an unexpected reaction or injury. That information could qualify as an AER, and it must then be filed with the Food and Drug Administration, which uses the reports to monitor product safety."
The "industry nightmare" should be people experiencing the "unexpected reaction or injury" as a result of their products – not the prospect of having to report the event to the FDA. I would think management would want to know if people are being harmed by the product, rather than take the position that 'if you guys are gonna allow the truth to be told we want no part of it'.
The guy running Flick By Design furniture in Toronto whines that a disgruntled customer falsely claimed to have been "Flik'd over" by him, setting off a chain of unflattering comments in the social media. Perhaps the guy who started it was unreasonable, but the Flick guy ought to be asking himself why his customer base was so willing to believe him.
Several months ago one of my kids complained about her older relatives taking her to task about something her 'friends' had posted on Facebook. She wanted to un-Friend the old folks because they "don't understand". My advice to her: Live your life in such a manner that ti doesn't matter how publicly desplayed it is on Facebook then you won't have to worry about it.
Same is true with business. Keep the rats out, deal with customer compaints and problems promtly and fairly from the get go, worry about the substance of the business, then you don't have to lose a minute's sleep worrying about the truth coming out in the social media.