We've gotten to a point in our World 2.0 where we do things because we can rather than because we should. We have oversized cars & houses, we're cloning embryos, we SuperSize everything - pick your issue and your political persuasion and there's something you can point to that we do or have, simply because it's available.
That's not exactly the way to run your marketing campaign. "We can strap battery-powered electronic devices to bridges to build buzz!" Uh, yes you can, but you probably shouldn't.
And all of this naturally affects brand and reputation, which is more fragile than ever for smaller businesses, with consumers taking control of the conversation in our MyTubeTechnol.icio.us world. It takes so long to build a trusted brand, and it can all be undone with a careless action, heated conversation, or a plan that sounded good one time in a meeting.
Case in point: Maggie Fox over at the Social Media Group notes Why you need to pay attention to the blogosphere - now that the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell is getting smacked around in the blogosphere. According the Globe and Mail, the firm is trying to maintain its reputation amidst
[M]ostly unverified accounts from anonymous posters, suggest[ing] workplace morale is awful. One anonymous blogger who claimed to be a former Sullivan & Cromwell employee said on The Wall Street Journal’s law blog that he had “never worked with a bigger bunch of sycophants and cowards.”And on yesterday's Small Agency Diary, Marc Brownstein penned an entry called Retaining Talent: What Works? in which he created a check-list of how an employer can ensure that employees are interested in sticking around. In his comments section (glad to see he has one!) Brownstein was greeted with a scolding from a former employee who advised him to walk the talk.
This is part of the risk in taking a strong point of view in a blog. You're bound to find detractors. But the point is, you've provoked a conversation. In this case, Brownstein can not only monitor the conversation, but can engage in it as well. He'll need to make a decision about how to respond: refute the assertions, let them die out, or keep building his reputation by cross-posting on other blogs and encouraging peers and clients to speak what's on their mind. With any luck, it'll be positive.
Blogging is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication and courage - courage to know that you will be judged on what you write, how well you communicate, and whether your ideas are equivalent to your reputation.
Are you up for the challenge?