It seems like it has been years since we brought it up, but only a few months ago, we were discussing the pros and cons of taking your company into the social network frontier. Things move quickly on the internet, and already, there are a handful of topics that need to be revisited.
One trend that seems to have surfaced recently is the concept of content ownership. One necessary problem with having an online presence (and again, you have one whether you want it or not) is the fact that at least some portion of your online content will be controlled by other people. A very illustrative example of this can be seen simply by looking at the corporate “fan page” for Comcast, one of the largest cable, internet, and phone companies in the U.S. On your first visit, you will only see Comcast’s company updates. However, on the top left of the newsfeed will be a link that allows you to see what others post on Comcast’s page. Some of the most profane, vulgar, and hateful language imaginable is present on that page, with Comcast’s logo right at the top.
This example actually contains two issues. The first and most obvious is that Comcast would almost definitely prefer to not have such defamatory content on their page. The reality of course being that these people would say the same things with or without Comcast’s active participation; the only responsible thing to do as a company is to address those concerns and respond to them positively. The second issue is trickier, and we’re going to have to think outside the box a bit to see it.
You may have seen recent stories about Kenneth Cole’s controversial tweet, or Nestle’s palm oil-turned-Streisand-Effect video. In both cases, companies – and more importantly, brands – received incredible negative press for things that would have been impossible without social media. Both companies handled the situation poorly, and now both brands are tarnished. Ownership is the issue here. Did Kenneth Cole personally write the tweet that caused such a backlash? He can only answer that. However, his name is on it, so the content is effectively his responsibility.
Companies see this kind of thing and they become paranoid. In social media, certain things are out of your control, and control is something that most companies would like to have. Brands want to retain ownership of all content that affects their online presence. The struggle now is to combine the two things. How can you maintain a social presence while still having complete content ownership? We will find out next time.
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